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A joint delegation from Omagh District Council and Strabane District Council held a very “positive and productive” meeting with the Minister for the Environment to discuss the payment of community benefits from wind farms in West Tyrone recently.
The meeting follows concerns within both Councils regarding the value of community benefit being paid by wind farm developers locally. Both Councils have established a joint working group on this issue and it has been meeting regularly since early 2012. The Fermanagh Trust also have published a report which reveals that the renewable energy industry are paying a lower value of community benefits to host communities in Northern Ireland compared to Scotland, England and Wales.
Councillor Frankie Donnelly from Omagh District Council explained: “West Tyrone has a significant wind energy resource and currently hosts approximately 50% of wind farms in the North of Ireland and generates nearly 50% of the region’s wind energy. West Tyrone is experiencing unique cumulative impacts so both Councils want our rural host communities to benefit from the growth in this industry locally.”
The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed that 40% of Northern Ireland’s electricity will be generated by renewable sources by 2020. The majority of this will be generated from onshore wind farms. It will see a further 1,700 Mega Watts connected to the grid and will increase the number and prevalence of wind farms in West Tyrone.
The Chairman of Strabane District Council, Councillor Thomas Kerrigan, who also sits on the wind farm working group explained: “The working group have held a very positive and productive meeting with the Minister for the Environment on the issue of community benefits recently. The group outlined the need for a regionally defined minimum standard for payment of community benefits by the Renewable Energy Industry. The working group have also met with political party spokespersons and representatives from the renewable energy industry on this issue. Meetings were also held with the Planning Service and Northern Ireland Electricity.”
“It is important that this growth in industry on our landscape is controlled, developed responsibly and used to sustain and regenerate our rural communities” said Councillor Donnelly.
For further information please contact Rachelle Craig, Corporate Policy Officer at Strabane District Council on 028 71 382204.
1. For a copy of the Fermanagh trust report on this issue please see the link below:
2. For details of the number of current and planned wind farms in West Tyrone please click here;
For further information please contact:
Corporate Policy Officer
Strabane District Council
47 Derry Road
Tel: 028 71 382204