New power station to provide electricity for half a million homes

A new power station providing electricity for more than half a million homes and businesses is to be built in Northern Ireland.

The 480-megawatt gas-fired development in Belfast’s Harbour Estate will help ensure sustainable and secure supplies as older generating stations are decommissioned, the company behind the venture said.

Ciaran Devine, director of Belfast Power, said: “This is a critical time for Northern Ireland’s electricity industry, and the power station will play a central role in ensuring we have enough electricity to meet demand over the coming years.

“The project also represents a significant shift towards low-carbon electricity generation in Northern Ireland.

“Using state-of-the-art Siemens technology, it will be the most efficient of its kind anywhere in the UK and Ireland.

“This is good news as we continue the journey towards decarbonisation, and will ensure competitive costs, which will benefit consumers.”

Officials at the Infrastructure Department have issued a notice of opinion to approve, Mr Devine said.

Older sites including Kilroot in Co Antrim use coal but the technology struggles to meet modern environmental standards.

Kilroot’s owners failed to win an all-Ireland contract to supply consumers and had been facing closure but was awarded a new short-term deal last year following negotiations.

Mr Devine added: “At a time of considerable uncertainty, we’re proud to be bringing this level of investment to Belfast, which will result in the creation of over 700 full-time jobs when construction begins and over 35 full-time roles when the plant is operational.”

The new development will be close to Kinnegar army base.

It is the third major planning decision taken by civil servants in recent times.

Northern Ireland has been without devolved government since January 2017.

Westminster legislation has given civil servants more clarity about the extent of their powers in the absence of ministers.