The Fianna Fáil MEP candidate for Midlands-North West, Senator Thomas Byrne, has written to the EU Commissioner for Energy to clarify that any wind farms or overhead high voltage power lines proposed for Ireland must comply with EU criteria for support and funding.
Senator Byrne said, “I have written to the Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, highlighting a number of major proposed projects which the EU Commission has listed for potential financial aid, including wind farms and two North-South interconnectors. In my letter, I requested his assurance that ‘none of the projects will be considered for EU financial aid unless the Irish authorities comply fully with EU requirements on assessing their effects.’
“The EU has laid down strict criteria for fast tracking approval and funding for major inter-Member State energy projects. I am extremely dissatisfied at the way EirGrid and the Government are handling projects like Grid West and the North-South interconnector. EU criteria require that the promoters of such projects must adequately assess their socio-economic and environmental effects. There must also be proper public consultation with all the interests potentially affected by these projects. I believe that EirGrid and the Government have singularly failed to do this.
“If I am elected to the European Parliament I intend to explore what other pressure many be brought to bear through the EU to ensure these projects are not just railroaded through.
The projects referred to in Senator Byrne’s letter include:
- An ultra high voltage interconnector from county Meath to county Tyrone, in Northern Ireland and an interconnector from county Sligo to county Tyrone.
- Onshore wind farms in county Mayo and the Irish midlands linked directly to Britain
- High voltage subsea interconnectors to Britain and France
- Underground interconnectors running from and beneath the North West of Ireland to the British Midlands