NI offshore wind plan scaled back

Plans for the first major offshore wind farm in Northern Ireland’s waters have been scaled back by at least 200MW to minimise impact on other marine activities, the consortium developing the project revealed today.

First Flight Wind – which includes B9 Energy, Dong Energy and RES – said the project is now likely to come in at 300MW-400MW, down from the 600MW envisaged when the UK Crown Estate awarded the lease in October 2012.

The consortium said development activities will now focus on a central section of the original zone off the Co. Down coast, after consultations threw up possible clashes  with other operators in the area.

First Flight Wind said: “Our engagement with key shipping stakeholders has highlighted concerns about placing a project close to the Warrenpoint-Heysham route, which we will now seek to avoid.

“In addition, we recognise that coast of Co. Down hosts some very important Nephrops fisheries. We are therefore proposing to limit where possible, encroachment on such key Nephrops fishing grounds.”

The up-to-400MW project envisaged could meet more than 10% of Northern Ireland’s  power needs when operating by 2020, added the developer.

The revised scope of the project will be reflected in First Flight’s environmental impact assessment.