​Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has renewed its support for the development of an Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland, as preparations get underway to facilitate a workshop between its Energy Group and the Department for the Economy (DfE).

A Council delegation, headed up by Alderman Billy Ashe MBE, Chair of the Energy Group, has already met with senior officials from the Department to press on the need for such a policy to be made a priority, while lobbying has taken place at Westminster level by Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy.

Northern Ireland has exceeded a target for 40% of electricity from renewables by 2020, however, to achieve net-zero, any future strategic direction will need to include the existing energy mix and how that can be reshaped.

The DfE recently launched a Call for Evidence as part of a public engagement process to inform any proposals, with the intention to have a draft strategy for presentation to the new Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds, by the end of this year.

Council has agreed to feed into that engagement process and submit a response to the consultation, while a workshop with the Department’s Energy Strategy Division is to be arranged in coming weeks.

Alderman Ashe said: “Energy is a significant issue for Council and the wider Mid and East Antrim economy. Any government policy would have considerable implication for the local area and it is important that we engage with the Department for the Economy’s consultation.

“We are home to two of Northern Ireland’s biggest power generation sites at Kilroot and Ballylumford, so it is essential we reflect the need to protect our local economy while ensuring the proper infrastructure is in place to allow domestic users the opportunity to look at renewable and sustainable energy sources which are affordable and accessible.

“I would encourage all interested stakeholders, elected members, businesses and individuals to respond to the Energy Strategy consultation and look forward to hearing from the policy makers at the forthcoming workshop.”

The Energy Strategy Call for Evidence can be accessed via the DfE website at www.economy-ni.gov.uk