Power station decision hailed as major advance

The �300m project is of major significance to Belfast and to the province as a whole
The �300m project is of major significance to Belfast and to the province as a whole

A new power station providing electricity for more than half a million homes and businesses is to be built in Northern Ireland.

The 480-megawatt gas-fired development in Belfast’s Harbour estate will help ensure sustainable and secure supplies as older generating stations are decommissioned, the company behind the venture said.

The move follows the issuing of a notice of opinion to approve the scheme by officials at the Department for Infrastructure.

It comes less than a week since the Department gave the go-ahead to the Belfast Transport Hub and has been warmly welcomed by business groups increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress on such schemes since the collapse of the Executive in early 2017.

Ciaran Devine, director of Belfast Power, said: “This is a critical time for Northern Ireland’s electricity industry, and the power station will play a central role in ensuring we have enough electricity to meet demand over the coming years.

“The project also represents a significant shift towards low-carbon electricity generation in Northern Ireland.

“Using state-of-the-art Siemens technology, it will be the most efficient of its kind anywhere in the UK and Ireland.

“This is good news as we continue the journey towards decarbonisation, and will ensure competitive costs, which will benefit consumers.”

Mr Devine added: “At a time of considerable uncertainty, we’re proud to be bringing this level of investment to Belfast, which will result in the creation of over 700 full-time jobs when construction begins and over 35 full-time roles when the plant is operational.”

The plant will be built by world-renowned engineering company, Siemens and will be one of the most efficient of its kind anywhere in the UK and Ireland, meeting all modern environmental standards.

Given the regional significance of the project, the planning application was submitted directly to the Department for Infrastructure in April 2017.

“DfI has been thoroughly professional in its approach to the application since it was submitted in April 2017.

“Belfast Power Limited will in the coming days participate in the T-4 capacity auction, which is being overseen by the Utility Regulator to secure electricity generation for the period commencing September 2022.

“Work will then start onsite in autumn of this year and the plant will become operational in 2022.

Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), said:

“Following last week’s decision to grant planning permission for the Belfast Transport Hub, the Permanent Secretary for the Department for Infrastructure must be commended again.

“At over £300m, the Belfast Power Station project is of significant strategic importance not only for Northern Ireland’s electricity infrastructure, but also for the economy in terms of the amount of jobs that will be created during its construction and again whilst operational.

“All eyes will now turn to other projects, such as major roads and the North-South Interconnector, to advance in as equally a speedy manner.

Kirsty McManus, national director at the Institute of Directors NI, said: “Combined with the recent green light for the Belfast Transport Hub, almost half a billion pounds worth of key infrastructure projects have been approved in a matter of days.

“The go ahead for the projects by the Department for Infrastructure reflect the strong leadership of its Permanent Secretary Katrina Godfrey as she makes decisions crucial to the wider economic prosperity of Northern Ireland in the absence of ministers.”