An electricity company, specialising in renewable energy, is offering some homeowners in Northern Ireland £200 off their annual bill as compensation for building wind farms close to their homes.
RES said it was the first time an initiative like this had been offered.
It said it was developed in response to feedback from local communities around its existing wind farms.
Some residents in Northern Ireland are against the idea.
Barbara Laverty lives on Slieveanorra, near Ballymoney. It is one of the areas where RES is proposing to put nine wind turbines each more than 100 metres high.
“Nothing would compensate me for the view that I’m going to lose or the rest of the residents,” she said.
“There’s one chap in this area who’s been trying to sell his home and because the respective buyer found out there were wind turbines going up, they walked away.
“His house has now been repossessed – ask him if £200 will compensate him because it certainly wouldn’t compensate me.”
RES currently has three planning applications for developments at Altaveedan near Loughguile, Barr Cregg near Claudy and Craiggore near Garvagh.
The company said if the applications were granted planning consent, then local residents close to these sites would be the first to benefit from the local electricity discount scheme (LEDS) – with more than 600 properties potentially eligible to receive an annual discount when the wind farms become operational.
Lucy Whitford, head of development for Ireland with RES, said the firm was committed to delivering “genuine benefits” to the communities that host its wind farms.
“We believe this launch will be widely recognised as setting a new benchmark for the industry,” she said.
“From consulting with communities near both existing and potential development sites, it became clear that being able to reduce electricity bills was a practical benefit that communities would be really keen to see.
“The scheme will see hundreds of residential, business and community properties qualify for an annual discount of £200 per year off electricity bills and continue for the lifetime of the wind farm – around 25 years.”
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said he welcomed the initiative.
“I am committed to ensuring that communities living near wind farms gain the right community benefits from hosting renewable energy developments,” he said.
“The RES local electricity discount scheme has been developed in response to feedback from local communities living close to RES wind farms and I commend them for taking this step.
“I believe renewable energy is the single biggest economic opportunity for this island and that the transition to a low-carbon economy can be developed in a way that respects and benefits local communities.”
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