Tag Archive for 'DDFFRE'


Local farmers group ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’ (DDFFRE) met with Department of the Environment Minister Mark H  Durkan on Monday afternoon to seek his support for the Lecale area being recognized as the UK reference site for energy storage and micro-grid technologies. DDFFRE were supported by Ulster Farmers Union Gary Hawkes, UFU chief policy officer Chris Osborne, renewable energy companies and Down Councilor Cadogan Enright.

Some of the delegation to the Minister. Left to right, Cllr Cadogan Enright with Ulster Farmers Union Chief Policy Officer Chris Osbourne and Down District Farmers representatives Declan Owens and Alan Montgomery

Some of the delegation to the Minister. Left to right, Cllr Cadogan Enright with Ulster Farmers Union Chief Policy Officer Chris Osbourne and Down District Farmers representatives Declan Owens and Alan Montgomery

Delegation leader Cllr Enright said “An extremely constructive meeting addressed the Northern Irelands Regional Development Policy and perceived gaps in how this was translated in the down and Ards Area Plan. There was a concern that Northern Ireland could lose the opportunity to become the UK lead in these new technology areas if planning policy did not reflect national policy. We noted how the Scottish Government had succeeded in gaining the UK reference site for wave and tidal energy.” CLICK FOR DETAILS OF EXCITING LOCAL PROJECT HERE 

DDFFRE Chairperson Alan Montgomery said, “Many will remember how the existing Area Plan was published years late with significant gaps. In particular, it is clear that current regional commitments to tackling Global Warming and moving energy policy towards renewable energy were not reflected in the old Area Plan as these subjects were not on the agenda when it was formulated. This has a serious impact on the way planners make decisions and could affect our pilot project. Planner are only required to deal with matters referred to in policy.”

Gary Hawkes, Ulster Farmers Union rural enterprise chairman said, “With ongoing capacity problems continuing to affect grid connection for small scale renewables in Northern Ireland, the UFU believe that this micro-grid solution is an alternative way forward.  If the go ahead is granted, this pilot could be spread out to other rural parts of the country and allow farmers to create community energy networks for their local areas, with much needed storage and distribution solutions. However planning policy must follow regional policy if this is to happen.”

Minister Durkan undertook to arrange follow-up meetings with the Northern Irish Environment Agency, to see how Regional Development Policy could be translated more effectively in Area Planning. He undertook to see how his department could assist Rural Development initiatives around micro-grids and energy storage and how they could support the Invest NI-backed Lecale micro-grid pilot project based in the Bishopscourt and Ardglass areas of County Down.

News article


Globalwarming lecale This NASA diagram shows the effect in Down District if the Greenland Ice Sheet melts and the West Antarctic Ice sheet enters the sea. We become a group of islands and the Ards peninsula starts to disappear under water.

See my website and try other scenarios for yourself www.enright.ie/maps . In April 2013 the level of carbon dioxide in the air went above 400 parts per million for the first time since before humans evolved on the planet. This will have an effect if not stopped.

Aside from impact on the human population, Cambridge scientists predict that over 50% of bird species worldwide will become extinct from global warming with similar impacts on most other life forms.

july 24 2013 Cadogan Helps farmers lobby banks

july 24 2013 bankslendingfarmers by CadoganEnright

Cllr Cadogan Enright and John McCallister MLA help local farmers lobby Belfast Banks for a rational approach to lending for farm projects – and especially renewable energy projects where incomes are backed by ROC’s

Meeting officials at BoI Head Office in Belfast, the economic case was well made, and BoI officials agreed to send a delegation to Down District to meet with farmers to discuss their projects

Minister supports Farmers on Wind Turbines Oct 2012

Minister for Environment backs Lecale Farmers wind turbine campaign

Picture shows DDFFRE (Down District Farmers For Renewable Energy) at their inaugral meeting in Denvirs Hotel organised by Cllr Cadogan Enright

Farmers criticise planners over delays 31st Oct 2012

Farmers highlight 83% positive planning decisions for wind turbines across NI, but on 17% approved in Down District in 2010 (and it is now 2013)

Councuillor Backs wind turbines 17th oct 2012

Cllr Cadogan Enright supports proposals for a windfarm off the South Down coast in principle, but seek connectivity for local farmers who will help keep the economic benefits of renewable energy in the local area


John McCallister at DDC’s new HQ surrounded by localal farmers accompanied by Cllrs Des Patterson and Robert Burgess. Elliot Bell of the UFU is on far right.

John McCallister at DDC’s new HQ surrounded by localal farmers accompanied by Cllrs Des Patterson and Robert Burgess. Elliot Bell of the UFU is on far right.

A large number of local farmers gathered to meet John McCallister and local UUP councilors at Down District Councils new headquarters on the Ardglass Road. The UFU-backed ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’ had also invited Elliot Bell of the UFU to the meeting.

The main business of the meeting was to make a presentation on the Agri-Business opportunities arising from renewable energy in Northern Ireland, with one £ in every 20 now spent on energy in the local economy.

Chairperson Alan Montgomery of Bright expressed thanks to John McCallister for making time to come and listen to the problems of local farmers across a wide swathe of Down District. Alan highlighted bills assembled by local farmers both now and 10 years ago.

Alan said “Diesel is now 70p, but was 19.2p ten years ago. Electricity is now 17p per unit but ten years ago was 9p. Farming is under huge pressure on cost from the UK multiples, and spiraling energy costs are damaging what is both NI’s and Down Districts biggest industry.”

John Trainor of Ballykinlar said “Farmers from Lecale to Drumsnade see this issue as both a major problem and our biggest opportunity. £1.1 billion per annum is spent on energy in NI with most of this going to corrupt foreign regimes or the taxman in Westminster. We have to change and we need politicians to help us help ourselves by removing obstacles preventing us achieving the inevitable low-carbon economy of the future”.

The meeting highlighted for John McCallister and his team the different forms of economic discrimination being encounter by farmers in South East Down. Examples given included the new All-Island Grid being upgrading in the 3 Western Counties of NI but hardly at all in South Down leaving local farmers unable to participate in NI’s greatest opportunity in modern times and the local planning office creating obstacles and delaying planning application 2/3 years rather than the 4/6 months as in the rest of the province.

Pat Magee of Ballyhornan said “Locally, most favorable planning decisions seem to be for developers rather than for farmers who normally have a real need for on-farm energy consumption as well export to the grid. Many of us described the size and nature of our energy bills to John as our local MLA varying from £11,000 pa up £32,000 pa

John McCallister noted with concern that a further £44 million in grid re-enforcement had just been allowed for the West of the province this week and that once again South Down had been forgotten and pledged to tackle this in Stormont and to assist local farmers with their planning issues.


January Meeting with from the left Alan Montgomery Chairperson, Chris Hazzard MLA and Cllr Stephen Burns Down SF leader flanked by local farmers

January Meeting with from the left Alan Montgomery Chairperson, Chris Hazzard MLA and Cllr Stephen Burns Down SF leader flanked by local farmers

Down District Sinn Fein leader Cllr Stephen Burns arranged a meeting for MLA Chris Hazzard at Down District Council this week at the new headquarters on the Ardglass Road with the Ulster Farmers Union-backed ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’.

The meeting focused on Economic opportunities in rural development though diversification and reducing farm costs though developing on-farm energy resources.

Chairperson Alan Montgomery of Killough opened the meeting by expressing thanks to MLA Chris Hazzard for making time to come and listen to the problems of local farmers across a wide swathe of Down District. Chris Hazzard is a member of the Agricultural Committee at Stormont.

Local farmers highlighted rising costs of energy, and how they were under pressure to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ from the big UK retail multiples that buy their produce. However they were unable to get connection to the electricity grid as South Down is being left out of the overall drive to upgrade the grid across N.I. under the ‘Single Market’ programme and requested Chris Hazzard to facilitate meetings with NIE.

MLA Chris Hazzard said “I will be asking questions in Stormont as to why the South Down area is being left out of the grid development programme. This has serious implications for the development of both Agriculture and Commerce generally in South Down. This focus on development in other parts of N.Ireland at our expense is mirrored in our roads infrastructure. I attended meeting in London recently, and prospective developers were able to tell me about the lack of a Ballynahinch by-pass, the A5 and point up chronic traffic problems in Downpatrick. We need a new approach to development in South Down, we have been fobbed off for too long”

Cllr Stephen Burns said “Sinn Fein will be having a meeting with planners at Rathkelter House in the near future, and will address the issues raised by local farmers. It is not acceptable for senior planners to refuse to meet local farming leaders and Sinn Fein will vigorously pursue this matter.”

MLA Chris Hazzard said “DDFFRE farmers have some exciting ideas in the area of energy storage and distribution, and I would encourage this group to apply to the both DARD rural development funds and to the East Boarder Region group as their ideas are clearly important to the development of the all-Island grid.  I also intend to organize a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Michelle O’Neill with these enterprising Lecale farmers. They deserve our support.”


Councillor Cadogan Enright and B9 MD David Surplus with a group of farmers from Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy pictured at their monthly meeting in Downpatrock Cricket Club.

Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy (DDFFRE) invited David Surplus, MD of B9 Energy’s anaerobic digestion company to visit them at their monthly recent meeting in Downpatrick Cricket Club last Thursday night.

At a meeting chaired by local Councillor Cadogan Enright, They discussed the potential for co-operation around the development of renewable energy projects an in anaerobic digestion in particular . Cllr Enright explained “anaerobic digestion is a processes where micro-organisms digest biodegradable material in in a sealed container to release energy. Much of the fermentation used industrially to produce food and drink products use forms of anaerobic digestion. Silage is produced by anaerobic digestion”.

David Surplus pointed out “B9 is already involved in landfill gas at Down Councils’  Drumnakelly site,  and based on the new anaerobic digestion plant being constructed in Dungannon, we are interested in farm scale projects utilising resources such as cattle and pig slurry together with excess silage to generate combined heat and power”.

David Surplus said; “South Down has not been as quick as other areas of the province to embrace AD in dealing with agricultural waste streams while deriving income from selling heat and power. Animal slurries could support up to 150 farm scale AD plants in the Province making a significant contribution to our renewable energy targets and reducing our over-reliance on imported fossil fuels”.

Micheal Trainor of Bishopscourt said “Recent demonstration has shown that when digestive left over from the AD process is spread on farm land there is a 35% increase in grass yields above the use of raw slurries due to the entrained nitrogen being in a form that is more easily absorbed. Weed seeds are also digested so that there is less need to use expensive imported herbicides which is important to me as an organic farmer.”

After dealing with normal business, the meeting supported a resolution from Alan Montgomery of Killough to follow up on this high tech way of dealing with farm waste to create new income sources for farming, reduce the danger of pollution from run-off, save money on herbicides and produce better grass and other crops. DDFFRE resolved to explore this technology more thoroughly at future meetings in the new year.


‘Down District Farmers For Renewable Energy’ (DDFFRE) have announced that they are considering a position of actively opposing the proposed offshore wind farm on economic grounds. DDFFRE was recently formed in Down District by a large group of local farmers who are trying to diversify their businesses into renewable energy.

Spokesperson Niall Montgomery said “Local farmers met with B9 during their all-day consultation in Ardglass last Tuesday, and we put it to this multinational consortium is in this for what they can get, and have no interest in supporting the local economy. We asked B9 for a commitment that will work with us in tackling our issues with grid connection, and the lack of connectivity South of Ballynahinch.”

Patrick Magee of Killard said “There will be a two year consultation process on the offshore wind farm, and we intend to play our full part in it. Local farmers struggle to get modest renewable energy proposals passed by the Planning Service, they are denied grid access when they get planning.”

Ian McMordie of Killough pointed out “The offshore wind farm is guaranteed planning, a gold-plated grid-connection built at the expense of Irish consumers with a much higher price for their energy than would be offered to local farmers. There is a strong economic case for on-shore renewable energy, and not proceeding with the off-shore wind farm at all.”

Edward Carson of Tyrella said “If Down farmers succeed in getting connection, the money stays in the local economy. But when the offshore wind proposal gets permission most of the money will flow out of the local economy to the Crown Estate in London or to Denmark.”

“At our meeting today, we made it clear to Michael Harper of B9 that we expected their proposal to go forward on the basis that they will encourage economic development to the whole area, and not just mining our best assets for their Multinational partners. We sought specific commitments to upgrading our aging 11kv local grid with a modern 33kv grids as part of the proposal. Our local MP Margaret Ritchie has also undertaken to pursue bringing grid capacity further South than Ballynahinch and we will also be seeking a meeting with NI Electricity on this matter. “Concluded Niall Montgomery.


from left, Edward Carson, Alan Montgomery and Cllr Cadogan Enright at DDC headquarters on Ardglass Rd

from left, Edward Carson, Alan Montgomery and Cllr Cadogan Enright at DDC headquarters on Ardglass Rd

Following a positive meeting with Environment Minister Attwood and MP Margaret Ritchie last month, local farmers are seeking a meeting with new Down senior planner Barbara Elliot. A large number of local farmers have organized themselves into a new farming organization ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’ which is also supported by community leaders, politicians and environmentalists.

Edward Carson of Tryella said, “We want the planning office in Rathketer House in Downpatrick to reflect what is happening across N.I. and in G.B. There is a fear that the planning system favors developers and Multinational companies. These people can afford barristers to challenge the planners, and normally get a ‘free run’ though the planning system compared to ourselves. The new off-shore windfarm proposal for our area is a case in point, does anyone believe that they will be denied planning or not be able to get a grid confection?”

Alan Montgomery of Killough said “The Minister noted that planning applications for wind turbines across Northern Ireland generally take 4 to 6 months to process, but the average for our applications in the Downpatrick planning office is closer to 3 years”.

“The Minister pointed out the 83% success rate for planning application success for renewable energy across NI, and was surprised to hear that the statistics for Down are so different. For instance in 2010 only 18%  of applications had been passed and few of these were for farmers – they were mostly for developers. 82% are still either refused or stuck in the planning process” continued Alan Montgomery.

Local environmentalist Cllr Cadogan Enright said, “Farmers in the Lecale and Strangford areas are particularly aggeived, given the traditional importance of wind energy in East Down. Historical maps of our area show hundreds of windmills in this area, making Down District the only area in Ireland outside of Wexford with a major tradition in wind energy. Old windmill sites area scattered all over our district”.

Patrick Magee of Killard pointed out, “Planning advisors charge twice the price for planning applications in Down District, as our local planning office is generally regarded as ‘not fit for purpose’ and involves them in far more work”.

John Gill of Rossglass said “If we cannot get the Down District planning department to reflect N.I. and British planning policy locally, we will be calling for all renewable energy applications to be processed centrally in the regional headquarters of the planning service by properly qualified and trained personnel.”