Northern Ireland ministers pledge support to renewables

Northern Ireland Environment Minister and Energy Minister have both pledged their support for renewable energy, saying they will help to make the sector grow through a favourable planning system.

The ministers were speaking during a visit to Baclas Timber near Enniskillen, a company built on the timber trade that has now diversified into supplying fuel for biomass boilers.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots used the visit to launch his department’s new planning policy for renewable energy, PPS18.

“This policy sets out the Department of the Environment’s planning policy for development that generates energy from renewable resources. In addition, PPS18 encourages the integration of renewable energy technology and greater application of the principles of Passive Solar Design in the design, siting and layout of new development,” he said.

He acknowledged that greater use of renewable energy technologies will reduce Northern Ireland’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and will bring diversity and security of supply to energy infrastructure.

“Renewable energy development will not only help the environment – it can provide significant opportunities for local firms to use their extensive skills and knowledge base to develop a local renewable energy industry,” said Mr Poots.

“By creating jobs, the increased use of renewable energy provides opportunities for rural diversification and for the alternative use of agricultural land in the production of renewable energy crops.”

Energy Minister Arlene Foster congratulated Balcas on its commitment to innovation and growth within the local renewable energy industry and highlighted her department’s continued work in developing a sustainable energy future for Northern Ireland.

She said: “Demand for bio energy, as with all forms of renewables, is increasing rapidly as both businesses and consumers become more environmentally conscious.

“I have just launched the draft cross Departmental Bioenergy Action Plan for consultation. It offers a co-ordinated approach for the sustainable development of bioenergy to contribute towards achieving more secure energy supplies, reduced carbon emissions and increased business and employment opportunities .

“By simultaneously reducing its waste overheads and tapping into a new revenue stream, Balcas is already demonstrating that renewable energy represents a significant commercial opportunity for local businesses regardless of prior experience in the sector.”

Sam Bond

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