Department of Agriculture back innovative product
Kann O&M plans a three-year £250,000 investment after they received grant aid of £19,425 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs that was used to assist with the purchase of the leading solar panel cleaning system on the market today.
The Sunbrush system is used to wash large-scale solar farms to improve their performance, and it is the only one of its type across Ireland and Northern Ireland.
David Woodend of Kann O&M said that there was a need for the system as the number of solar farms across Northern Ireland was growing as the government and private sector strive to meet reduced carbon output goals.
“At present solar farm operators in NI have limited options when it comes to cleaning their sites and have to bring contractors from mainland UK or resort to manual cleaning which is a long, labour intensive process with variable results,” he explained.
“Dirty panels as a result of ineffective or no cleaning at all results in reduced electricity output from the farm.
“The Sunbrush system can clean up to 20,000 solar panels across a 30-acre site in a day.”
Samuel Knox of Kann O&M, said the team has long experience in solar technology, having been involved in the construction of several solar farms, as well as dealing with connecting to the NIE grid.
“Building and managing a solar farm is a big undertaking,” he added. “Both David and I are used to dealing with the challenges that are required and investing in the Sunbrush system is the next step.
“Ultimately the grant aid from the department will mean that we can continue Kann O&M growth. That includes plans for a £250,000 investment across the next three years, leading to six new jobs.”
Minister for Agriculture, Edwin Poots said: “Kann O&M Ltd received financial support totalling £19,425 under the NI Rural Development Programme. This investment services an industry which is making a positive contribution to our environment and the mechanised service will improve productivity and efficiency for both Kann O&M Ltd and the solar farms. I wish them every success for the future.”
Kann O&M provides services in the renewable energy sector, with David and Samuel’s experience in solar starting with work on the first large-scale solar farm in Northern Ireland in 2016. The company also provides land management services to the solar sector which aim to improve biodiversity and provide additional environmental benefits to the local area.
“While we are both electricians we are also both farmers and live in rural backgrounds,” said David. “That means that we understand that while solar farms are a key part of the zero carbon future, we want them to have as little impact as possible, and even enhance the wildflower and native species growth.
Murphy Announces Business Rates Revaluation
Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has today announced a revaluation of all 74,750 non-domestic properties, delivering on his commitment for more frequent revaluations here.
Known as ‘Reval2023’, this process will result in a new non-domestic Valuation List being used to calculate business rate bills from April 2023.
Announcing the revaluation, Minister Murphy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the economy resulting in changes between business sectors and this will feed through to changes to the rental values of many properties.
“Although the last revaluation was just over a year ago in 2020, I have asked Land & Property Services to bring forward another revaluation in the shortest possible time.
“Reval2023 will maintain fairness and ensure businesses are paying rates which take account of the impact of the pandemic.”
Commenting on support provided to businesses, Minister Murphy added: “Since April 2020, I have provided over £500 million of additional business rates support, with many businesses paying no rates at all over two years. The Executive has also provided significant financial support to businesses in the form of grants.
“As we look ahead to economic recovery and given the large scale of a revaluation it is important this work gets underway now.”
Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels and pubs as well as utilities such as gas, water, electricity and wind farms.
Land & Property Services will begin collecting property information from business ratepayers later this year. This important information will form a database of new rental values as at 1 October 2021, instead of the current 2018 values, and will be used in assessing new rateable values for every property.
Town and City Centre Investment Helping Thousands of Businesses in Their Recovery
A £19.3million funding programme to support town and city centres recover from the impact of Covid-19 has helped thousands of businesses across councils, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said.
Launched in August 2020, initial funding for the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme was for measures such as shop frontage and awnings/canopies; outdoor furniture; heaters and queueing systems. More recently the funding support longer term initiatives such as the creation of cycle paths and pedestrian walkways to encourage car-free shopping, small environmental improvements and the use of open space and vacant premises to provide safe facilities.
Total funding for the scheme was made up of £12million from the Department for Communities, £5million from the Department for Infrastructure and £2.3million from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
Speaking after visiting business in Enniskillen who availed of the funding Minister Hargey said: “The Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme is an excellent example of collaborative working and was created to help and support our urban and rural businesses deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In total the funding has supported over 3,000 businesses across the north which has helped them to reopen safely. The funding has also been used to encourage people back into our towns and city centres to spend time, to support our local businesses and ultimately to help keep our town and city centres alive and prosperous.
“It has delivered funding of £1.29million to Fermanagh & Omagh District Council to support a range of projects including grants to support businesses across the entire Council area as they prepared a pathway out of lockdown by assisting them to provide a safer shopping experience for all their customers. I was pleased to see at first hand today how some of this support has been received by businesses in Enniskillen.”
Cllr. Chris McCaffrey (Vice Chairperson) Fermanagh & Omagh District Council added: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to working in partnership to improve the lives of all the people of the district and this approach has delivered tangible benefits making the district an attractive place to live, work and visit.
The Council has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Department for Communities over a number of years and it is a partnership we look forward to continuing to develop into the future for the benefit of our businesses and the wider community.
The £1.2million funding through the Covid-19 Business Recovery and Revitalisation Grant Aid Scheme has been used to support businesses to respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 health pandemic, to encourage people to support local to aid economic recovery and to deliver schemes which will promote and revitalise our town centres.
The Council will continue to work with the Department for Communities and other partners to provide assistance to local businesses and aid the recovery of the district into the future.”