Wilson says ‘no’ to proposed wind farm overlooking Antrim Coast Road

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has added his voice in opposition to the proposed erection of 14 wind turbines overlooking the Antrim Coast Road.

Editorial image.

Ballygilbert Windfarm is in the early stages of being developed by RES UK and Ireland, which is based at Willowbank Business Park in Larne.

Proposals were on show at a public exhibition in Ballygally Castle Hotel earlier this month.

Mr Wilson said: “Some residents, while opposed to the imposition of the wind turbines, have raised concerns about what that opposition would mean for our energy production and renewable energy targets.

“In fact, just a number of weeks ago, the Department for the Economy announced that Northern Ireland has exceeded its renewable energy target of 40% by 2020, with renewable electricity accounting for 44% of output as of June 2019.

“Given the unreliable nature of renewable energy and the expensive subsidies involved in making wind farms viable, increasing our renewable production would only lead to higher energy costs.

“It is important that the local communities’ opposition is heeded and myths around the cost and dependency of renewable energy are challenged and not used as an excuse to impose 14 large turbines against their will.”

In August, RES told the Larne Times detailed environmental surveys have been ongoing in recent months to ensure the site, three kilometres north west of Cairncastle, is suitable and to help inform the proposed layout and design.

Responding to Mr Wilson’s comments, a spokesperson for RES said: “Today, people around the globe are calling on world leaders to take action on climate change and increasing our use of renewable energy is how we can reduce the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

“Wind power is reliable, providing more than 44% of our electricity consumption in the last year and has saved every person in Northern Ireland £4 per year since 2000 through depressing wholesale prices.

“There are no subsidies for wind farms in Northern Ireland, so Ballygilbert will be developed without a subsidy and will be able to contribute to further cost reductions for homes and businesses through cheaper electricity.”

The company also said it is willing to work with the community to address any issues people may have.

It follows a statement from DUP MLA Gordon Lyons expressing concern about the impact on tourism and the landscape.

Mr Lyons said: “The Antrim Coast Road and the picturesque coastal villages of Glenarm and Ballygally have been key to Northern Ireland’s tourism offering as part of the Causeway Coastal Route for a number of years.

“This should not be marred by large wind turbines which would corrupt the beauty of our natural heritage. There has been significant opposition to the proposal from within the local community.”

Welcoming the time residents took to find out about the proposals at its first consultation meeting, the RES spokesperson said: “As a local company based in Larne, we want to make sure what we are proposing is a sensitively designed project to complement the local landscape.

“We understand that any change proposed to a landscape often results in a range of different views and opinions; we hope to work constructively with the local community to work through any areas of concern.”

For previous story on this project read here