In relation to the article (September 30) regarding Stormont’s U-turn on subsidies, there are a few points that we feel need to be clarified.
We completely agree that this does represent a major U-turn and it must be stressed that, as a result of Jonathan Bell’s initial positive comments, substantial investment has been committed which could now be lost. This poses a huge risk to the businesses involved which cannot be ignored.
In terms of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) closure somehow aligning us to Great Britain policy, this is a flawed argument.
For small wind projects in GB, they will continue to get Feed in Tariffs (FITS) post April 2016.
However there will be nothing for small wind projects in Northern Ireland – we have been excluded from this. This is an indefensible context for the industry in Northern Ireland to find itself in. The point about costs and the extra £5 on a consumer bill is a ‘worst case’ calculation by DETI. This wrongly assumes all projects in the pipeline will actually go ahead but there are always projects that fall down because of issues with planning, grid, wind resource or financing.
These must be factored into this calculation for it to have any meaning.
Also, the statement about £10,000 extra on large energy user’s bill is misleading and distorts the actual impact as it is based on the highest energy users of Northern Ireland and is not an average.
A point also to note would that the people of Northern Ireland haven’t been asked what their view is on paying a minimal amount more per year for a much safer energy supply, which is best for our future generations.
Onshore wind is supported by the majority of people in the UK as demonstrated via many independent polls. One clear point, which cannot be stressed enough, is that the economic impact of this decision is colossal and will leave NI’s onshore wind industry in crisis.
There will undoubtedly be job losses in the sector, estimated by some agencies to be in the region of 5,000-10,000. Additionally, there will be an impact on the services being used across the sector and associated businesses will see a significant drop in revenue as contracts and projects diminish. This poses a huge threat to NI’s economy and seems to be completely overlooked.
We would urge DETI review this proposal, in light of the dangers it poses, and view the decision within the context of its economic and environmental impact.
Rob McMillan, General manager, WindNI, Larne