A staggering 337 planning applications were approved for wind turbines/farms in Northern Ireland in little more than 12 months.
The permissions were granted between April 2011 and June 2012. There are currently some 750 applications yet to be decided.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood “is a strong advocate for renewables”, his department said.
A spokesman said: “He believes it can be Ireland’s biggest economic opportunity, can lead to self-sufficiency in electricity, create many jobs and add to the green and clean appeal of Northern Ireland, not least for tourist potential. The planning system will be exhaustive to ensure applications are properly assessed. The minister believes we need to stretch ourselves when it comes to renewable ambitions.”
The DoE said there are 62 applications for wind turbines in Down district, of which 39 are pending and 23 have been determined (16 approved, seven refused). Thirty are in the Saintfield/Ballynahinch area; 25 in Downpatrick/Lecale; seven in Castlewellan/Newcastle.
“The Strategic Energy Framework has set a target to generate 40 per cent of energy from renewable resources by 2020,” said the DoE.
“The department is on target to achieve this with 14 per cent of energy being provided from renewable resources. The department welcomes the contribution that wind turbines make to this reduction of carbon emissions.”