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RenewableNI welcomes the publication of the NI Chamber’s ‘Planning Improvement and Reform Position Paper’ today, and their highlighting the importance of renewable energy development.

RenewableNI has been calling for radical planning reform, and while there has been good engagement with key stakeholders, the essential changes have not been addressed.

The Chamber’s Planning Improvement paper states that “in 2022/23, the average processing time for a regionally significate planning application was 362 weeks”. Of the 13 applications received since 2015, eight of these were for wind farms and two for solar farms.

This reflects the experience of RenewableNI members. Director Steven Agnew said:

“These planning timelines are outrageous.

“We have less than six years to achieve the legal obligation of 80 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030, but the processing time is 6 years and 11 months. Some of our members have projects that are experiencing even longer decisions as they languish with the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).

“We reiterate the NI Chamber’s recommendations for reform in this area and an examination of resourcing. PAC stated in a letter to a RenewableNI member they were ‘functioning at 75 per cent capacity’*.

“On behalf of our members, we are working with the Chamber to achieve positive reform.”

A copy of the Planning Improvement and Reform Position paper is available online.

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