‘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.