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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Protest over wind farm plan
View from Portstewart Strand
Opponents say the wind farm will spoil the view
Several hundred people have held a protest against plans to build a wind farm off the north coast of Northern Ireland.

The 200m project would be located in the sea between Portstewart in County Londonderry and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

If successful, it could supply power to 170,000 homes, 28% of all homes in Northern Ireland.

However, the north coast is famous for its sea views and some residents feel "clean" energy would be generated to the detriment of tourism, one of the area's main incomes.

Wind turbines
Wind farms can be controversial

On Sunday, a protest was held at Portstewart Strand against the plans which would involve constructing up to 85 turbines, each almost 200 feet tall.

Maurice Walker, of the Save Our Seacoast Campaign, said the wind farm would have a "disastrous affect" on the famous sea views.

"We are very, very concerned about the effect that this possible development would have on the area from Inishowen right around from Benowen and on right round to the Giant's Causeway," he said.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said the argument was not about the need for renewable energy but about where a wind farm should be sited.

"Anyone who looks along the north coast, whether they be resident or tourist, sees one of the most beautiful coastlines, not only in Northern Ireland but in these islands," he said.

"Visitors and tourists remark on the fantastic view. It is a tremendous tourist attraction.


The government has committed us to a 10% target for renewable energy on the system by 2010

David Surplus
B9 Energy

"We've only one world heritage site in Northern Ireland - that's based at the Giant's Causeway. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in these islands.

"All of those are going to be scarred to some degree if this proposal were to proceed."

If the project goes ahead, one third of the output of Kilroot Power Station would be generated in what would be the largest off-shore wind farm in the UK.

A consortium, chosen by the Enterprise Minister, Sir Reg Empey, has been appointed to investigate the feasibility of the project.

It is made up of B9 Energy Offshore Developments, Renewable Energy Systems and Powergen Renewables Developments.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell: Development would be "scar" on landscape

David Surplus of B9 Energy said the company recognised there would be local opposition to such a development.

But he said the sea off the north coast was the only suitable site in the province.

"We need renewable energy," he said. "The government has committed us to a 10% target for renewable energy on the system by 2010.

"It would be virtually impossible to achieve that by the use of onshore sights only because of the constraints of the planning system.

"So we have to look towards the offshore wind energy resource."

He said the company was looking at the impact the wind farm would have on the view.

If initial exploration is successful, work to construct the wind farm could start in 2005.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Jeremy Mitchell:
"About 200 turned up to protest against a proposal to build Europe's largest windfarm"
David Surplus, technical director B9 Energy:
"This is the only site which is suitable"
Gregory Campbell, MP for east Londonderry:
"Some of the most beautiful places in Northern Ireland will be scarred"
See also:

25 Jun 02 | N Ireland
12 Nov 01 | UK
14 Feb 02 | N Ireland
14 Feb 02 | Scotland
11 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


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