East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has questioned a claim that Gaelectric’s proposed CAES power station at Carnduff will be needed to replace the AES Ballylumford B plant.
The B station is due to close next year as part of a drive to meet EU directives on renewables, but Mr Wilson said it is not certain if or when it will happen.
The DUP representative added: “One of the arguments made by Gaelectric is that the power plant they intend to build on the top of the hill at Inver is essential because Ballylumford B plant will have to close after December, 2015. First of all, the Minister (Arlene Foster) has made it clear that no decision has been made on Ballylumford B plant and indeed the company is still assessing what investment it needs to undertake to meet the Industrial Emissions Directive.
“Secondly, as she pointed out, given that this (CAES) project is at an early stage of development, it could not possibly be in place before Ballylumford B would have to close down, so cannot be seen as an alternative.”
Mr Wilson said: “It is my view that Gaelectric are trying to stymie any opposition to the very environmentally damaging proposal they have for Inver by claiming that all of the planning issues are being addressed and that this project is absolutely essential to ensure energy supply for the future in Northern Ireland.”
The MP added: “The project is still to be commercially tested and is unlikely to be able to go ahead without huge amounts of support from the public purse, which it is not clear would be available or indeed could be made available. There needs to be a general debate about energy policy and a specific debate in the wider Larne area regarding this proposal, which in my view, is totally inappropriate for the location it is being proposed and which could have implications for energy prices for a long time in the future in Northern Ireland.”