Plane and train maker Bombardier has had plans for a 3.8MW solar farm at one of its manufacturing plants in Belfast approved by the environment minister for Northern Ireland, Mark Durkan.

The five hectare rooftop PV power station will produce the equivalent to the power consumed by 300 homes and will be sited at Bombardier’s Airport Road West wing manufacturing and assembly facility.

Bombardier, which was this week awarded the £1 billion contract for the government’s flagship transport infrastructure project Crossrail, also recently had plans to build an £85 million biogas plant next to the Airport Road West site approved by the minister.

Durkan said the new project would help demonstrate how businesses could improve competitiveness as well as aiding the environment through renewable energy generation.

“Renewable energy is generating a real win-win outcome – it represents an opportunity for industry to improve its competitiveness while helping reduce its environmental impact. These applications by Bombardier to secure more sustainable technologies will in turn contribute to key Programme for Government targets for increasing renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This will assist Northern Ireland in making the transition towards a low carbon society,” Durkan said.

“The decision for the photovoltaic panels was processed in around six weeks and represents how a more efficient planning system is delivering the right decisions quickly for business,” he added. Bombardier’s application was received by Durkan’s department on 1 November 2013.

The news comes a day after the environment minister also approved a planning application by BNRG Northern Power for a 5.1MW solar farm in Downpatrick, County Down. The 5.1MW plant has a proposed 30 year life span and will provide power output equivalent to the use of 1,500 homes, representing an investment value of £6 million.