This Council had no idea that its rates base had increased £1.6 million based on the transition to the ‘New Energy Economy’ up to the 2021 financial year. But the NI Department of Finance was able to tell us that Mid Ulster Council was receiving rates from 8 of 9 possible different types of renewable energy projects in its District – the best mix of any N.I. Council. Missing only a biomass project to have all 9 types paying rates to Council.
Mid Ulster even had N.I.’s first large battery energy storage facility. But the scale of renewable projects was much smaller than in neighbouring Councils. So it came only 4th overall in rates revenue at 2.4% behind Derry and Strabane at 5% and Fermanagh and Omagh at 9%. (see NI Council revenue league table here)
Given Mid Ulster’s reputation for engineering and the District’s location, it would have been reasonable to expect more than the 2.4% of its rates from renewables contributing £1,632,312 per annum to Council coffers.
Within Councils own operations, Mid Ulster advised us it had no heat pumps, thermal solar or PV systems to bring down energy costs in any of its 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. Its only redeeming feature of its internal operations was sharing gas income from Tullyvar landfill site with neighbouring Fermanagh and Omagh Council to the tune of £222,568.68pa in 2021.
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 Mid Ulster does 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 well-paid local 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 Mid Ulster’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
|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