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Dong and RES bag first Northern Ireland offshore wind lease

The UK Crown Estate has given the green light to developers of a 600MW wind farm and two up-to-100MW tidal-power projects under Northern Ireland’s first offshore leasing round.

The 600MW wind development zone off the southeast coast of County Down has been awarded to First Flight Wind, a joint venture between Danish offshore giant Dong Energy and RES-B9 (NI) Offshore Wind.

The latter is a venture comprising UK developer RES and Northern Ireland-based B9 Energy.

Dong is already heavily involved in the development of Belfast Harbour's ambitions to be a key hub in the offshore wind industry off the northwestern UK's mainland.

The two tidal-power projects will go ahead off the northeast coast of County Antrim near Torr Head and Fair Head.

The Torr Head group is Tidal Ventures, a joint venture between tidal turbine developer OpenHydro and Irish utility Bord Gáis.

The Fair Head zone goes to Cork-based DP Marine Energy Limited and Belgium’s DEME Blue Energy.

All the successful parties have signed agreements with The Crown Estate, which leases the seabed for renewables projects in UK territorial waters.

The groups can now proceed to carry out detailed survey and planning work before applying for consent from Northern Ireland’s various official bodies.

The Crown Estate says the 10-month competitive tender processes "attracted significant interest from national and international renewable energy development companies".

Northern Ireland energy minister Arlene Foster says: "Today's announcement by The Crown Estate represents a major milestone for Northern Ireland.

“I am greatly encouraged by the progress made to date to develop our offshore renewable resource and that these key companies want to invest in our waters.”