Belfast was saved from being the worst council in N.I. only on the foot of receiving £597,807.50 pa for methane gas from its retired landfill site. The NI Department of Finance identified Belfast as by far the worst performer in terms of rates from renewable energy. (see NI Council revenue league table here)
Belfast claimed not to an energy efficiency campaign like those of other Urban Councils in Ireland. EG Dún Laoghaire Council now saves over one million Euros per annum. Aside from one tiny PV system at Lady Dixon Park, Belfast Council advised us it had no heat pumps, thermal solar or PV systems to bring down energy costs in any of its other buildings. It owned no renewable systems itself and so had no income from this source. It did not have a plan to tackle any of this or reduce the millions its spends on energy every year. There is no organised plan to transition the Councils operations to the ‘New Economy‘.
Aside from the huge cost to the ratepayer in not migrating its buildings and fleets to cheaper forms of energy, there is no reason why Belfast as an urban council area could not own wind or PV farms in other Councils as is now becoming normal in GB -> see Warrington for instance. Or West Suffolk. Or UK’s biggest Council Energy Storage Scheme. Here is a report from Bradford Council that backs up what other GB Councils have found – It is far cheaper and more efficient to ‘go green’ and the ratepayers benefit from the new circular economy. Will Belfast learn from any of this?
It is clear that when the transition in energy sources is complete in N.I., there will be an average of ~£20 million pa in rates for each of the 11 Councils in N.I.. But Belfast do not have a plan to realise their share of what will be the fastest growing area in rates income over the next 10 years and thus unlikely to reap the full benefit of the transition in savings and in additional income or local well-paid jobs for young people like us.
We have learned a lot these last 2 years. We now know the full potential of Councils in Northern Ireland to benefit their ratepayers in dealing with Climate Change. These powers are considerable, even though they are not as extensive as Councils in Britain and the Republic of Ireland. N.I. Councils have, collectively MORE power than the Northern Irish Regional Assembly at Stormont in Belfast. SEE HERE for the 2023 template where we are more thoroughly and extensively vetting councils.
How do we know this information?
In Northern Ireland, we found that the Department of Finance was very helpful, providing a full breakdown of rates by council on each type of renewable energy project. Here are the 3 freedom of information replies we got from them.
- Rates for every type of renewable energy project by Council
- Rates for fossil fuel generators by Council (no nuclear in NI)
- Overall rates for each Council area.
See Antrim and Belfast’s reply; Council’s response.
See the breakdown summary of the Council here:
|Rates Income from Renewable Energy Projects
|Income from Council’s own renewable energy
|£345 + £597,808
|Cumulative annualised savings from energy savings campaign
|Savings from the electrification of Council’s vehicle fleet
|Rates Income from fossil fuel/nuclear electricity plants
|Rates Income from grid infrastructure and related plant