Farmers frustrated over NIRO position

Gary Hawkes
Gary Hawkes

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is frustrated by the unwillingness of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) to meet and seek a solution to the closure of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation Certificate (NIROC) scheme for small scale wind turbines.

The UFU and Simple Power have already initiated a judicial review of the DETI consultation process for the closure of the NIRO for onshore wind and a leave hearing is scheduled for February 26.

In the meantime the union, Simple Power, Wind NI and Renewables NI met the DETI committee at Stormont recently and made clear their willingness to engage with the department to seek an agreed plan for the NIRO closure for turbines generating less than 250kW, the large scale wind industry having accepted the plan.

“We are trying to get a solution that works and is fair,” said UFU rural enterprise chairman Gary Hawkes.

“Many farmers and businesses have invested in this technology and face having projects shut down because of issues beyond their control,” He said the small scale wind industry had been ‘uniquely and very badly’ affected by development delays. “These are around grid connection in particular. We are proposing a grace period to allow projects awaiting grid connection a reasonable chance to connect,” he said.