News that energy group Gaelectric is planning to invest £58 million in a wind farm outside Limavady and create 40 jobs has been cautiously welcomed by a local councillor.
The company revealed its plans for the Dunbeg site after getting the green light for the project from the local planning authorities.
Gaelectric said it intended to build a wind farm with the capacity to generate up to 42 mega watts (MW) of electricity.
The company said the development was likely to cost £58 million and estimated that it would provide enough electricity to power 24,000 homes when it was up and running.
Dunbeg is in a region designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Northern Ireland Planning Service originally refused permission for the development on that ground. However, the planning appeals commission subsequently over-ruled this.
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said: “We can’t ignore the fact that it is a £58m project which I would hope would bring very much needed employment and benefits to local companies, but I think we also need to be aware it is in an area of outstanding beauty and I would hope the proper consultations have been completed and people are satisfied it will not have a significant negative impact on the flora, fauna and wildlife of the area.”
Colr. Mullan added: “I think we cannot but welcome it as it is renewable energy and will have a significant imput into the grid, so we can’t ignore that either, but we have to take on board the fact the visual amenity of the area could be compromised by this wind farm.”
The company said it would set up a locally administered fund to support community projects in the area.
Chief executive Brendan McGrath yesterday described the site as “a world-class energy resource” while Gaelectric Operations Director, Mike Denny, said: “Dunbeg will not only provide a significant boost to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy capacity, it will also generate jobs, support increased workforce skills and provide economic activity to the area.”
He said: “Gaelectric has completed an extensive consultation programme to update local communities on the Dunbeg project and a locally administered community fund will be established to support community projects in the area.”
Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “Reaching the 40% renewable energy target by 2020 is not just a desire for the Northern Ireland Executive, it is an imperative. The Dunbeg proposal will assist us in achieving this. It is also an important planning decision given the site sensitivities and will set a precedent for future applications in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”