Councillor Willie Clarke Welcomes Windfarm Consultation Process
SINN Féin Newcastle Councillor Willie Clarke speaking after attending a presentation by First Flight Wind in relation to a proposed wind farm along the South Down coast, said: “I welcome the beginning of a consultation process that will have many sectors to consider, which includes the fishing industry, tourism, environmental, and grid connection concerns. A marine windfarm is proposed to be built along the Co Down coast by 2019.
“I believe this is a substantial opportunity for the people of South Down if we have the correct procedures in place to ensure the local community will economically gain from any proposed offshore wind farm, both in terms of supply and direct jobs and a revenue stream being made available to the local community for the lifetime of the renewable energy infrastructure project.
“Local communities need to be convinced of not just the environmental benefits of renewable energy but also local economic and social benefits if we are to acquire their support and co-operation. Our local communities are entitled to derive some beneficial return from their local natural environmental resources.
“We have a window to achieve something transformational, which will begin to tackle disadvantage in our rural coastal communities who will have to live with the impact of the offshore wind farm.
“Green sustainable energy has a good deal of potential in these emerging markets and it presents real opportunities particularly for local ports in Kilkeel, Ardglass and Warrenpoint that are ideally located to take advantage of the wide ranging supply chain and businesses that are developing innovative ways of producing sustainable energy.
“There will be opportunities for skilled workers. In particular, skilled workers that have experience in areas such as grid connection, engineering, steel construction. Skills in building and maintaining turbines will be needed. And because the industry is relatively new it is not just the skill set that is lacking, the industry and government need to address the skills issue now. It is essential that local further education colleges have the resources to deliver the courses and training that is required so that local young people do not miss this great opportunity”.