Ireland-based renewable energy company, Airtricity, has received planning approval for its first wind farm site in Northern Ireland. It is anticipated that construction on the £16 million (US$27.7 million) wind farm, based in the north east section of County Fermanagh at Tappaghan Mountain, will begin in February 2004.Fermanagh, Ireland – December 9, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The wind farm will produce 19.5 MW of electricity, enough to power the equivalent of approximately 12,000 houses. This represents 57 percent of the domestic electricity needs of the whole of the population of Fermanagh District Council. The project will save the release into the atmosphere of nearly 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. “Obtaining planning approval for the construction of our first wind farm in Northern Ireland is a major step forward for both Airtricity and the supply of renewable energy in Northern Ireland,” Mark Ennis, Chief Executive of Airtricity Northern Ireland. “The business community and indeed all of the wider Fermanagh were very positive about the wind farm,” Ennis said. We can only make the supply of renewable energy a reality if we have the support and goodwill of local communities. We rely on partnerships with landowners, traders, politicians and the wider community.” The planning decision comes just days after the Government unveiled details of its Energy Bill to the House of Lords which legislates for the targets set in the Energy White Paper published in February this year. Airtricity Northern Ireland Chief Executive Mark Ennis welcomed the publication of the bill but urged local politicians to set even higher targets. “The commitments in the UK Energy Bill are a step forward but in Northern Ireland we have always maintained said that the targets for use of renewable energy should be higher,” Ennis said. “That is something the last Assembly had also agreed on and I hope that if we move towards a re-establishment of our political structures wind energy remains a priority for local Ministers.” “The progress we have made with the Tappaghan wind farm in Fermanagh demonstrates that there is willingness among providers, such as Airtricity, and the local business community to embrace renewable energy. That should be encouraged.” The development will involve the erection of 13, 1.5 MW wind turbines in Co Fermanagh on the border with Co Tyrone, made up of the town lands of Glenarn, Stranahone and Stranadarriff. The local community will benefit directly from this new wind farm as £1,000 (US$1,700) per turbine, £13,000 (US$22,500) in total will be invested in local community schemes in the area each year.