UFU and Simple Energy seek judicial review

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Northern Ireland wind energy firm Simple Power and the Ulster Farmers’ Union are to seek a judicial review of consultation proposals published by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) for the early closure of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) scheme to new small-scale onshore wind generation from 1 April 2016.

The legal action focuses on DETI’s handling of the consultation process and follows substantial industry-wide complaints about the impact the proposals will have on farmers and businesses across Northern Ireland, many of whom invested have spent time and money developing farm based wind energy projects (of less than 250kW), in the expectation the NIRO scheme would be retained until 1st April 2017.

In launching proceedings, the organisations also expressed their concern about the decision to treat large-scale and small-scale wind energy generators in the same way for the purposes of closing the NIRO, despite key technical and commercial differences between these forms of renewable energy generation.

Simple Power and the UFU have previously called on the DETI Minister Jonathan Bell to maintain the current status quo for small wind until a lawful consultation process to consider the matter can be carried out.