Renewables Obligation in Northern Ireland set for early close

A two-week consultation on closing the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind in Northern Ireland a year earlier than planned has been launched in the province.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment has proposed closing Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) to new onshore wind projects from 1 April 2016.

Any projects that meet the early closure eligibility criteria will be able to apply to accredit under the NIRO to 31 March 2017, with a further 12 month grid and radar delay grace period for projects which can demonstrate they meet the relevant criteria.

The move has already been criticized by the Ulster Farmer’s Union (UFU).

“This is a year earlier than planned, and to give only two weeks of consultation is inadequate in light of the implications for the small scale renewables sector in Northern Ireland,” said UFU rural enterprise chairman Gary Hawkes.

“The early closure will put at risk the use of small-scale turbines located on day to day farming business,” added Mr Hawkes. “These are farms that would use wind energy to not only reduce energy costs, but to boost energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.”

The consultation closes on Wednesday 14 October 2015.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues