“There is an increasing recognition that Europe has got it wrong on energy policy and that we are losing jobs to the United States, China and major developing economies. In the new European Parliament, energy policy will rival banking as the major issue to be faced, because of its implications for jobs”, Fianna Fáil’s MEP candidate for Midlands North West, Thomas Byrne, has said.

He was speaking in Carrick-on-Shannon, county Leitrim, at European election hustings organised by the Environmental Pillar. The Environmental Pillar represents more than thirty national non-governmental organisations and is a recognised part of the Social Partnership process, along with the trade unions, employers, farmers and the voluntary sector.

“Most EU member states – as well as the EU Commission – are revisiting their energy policies in the light of radically changed circumstances. The EU recently revised its targets for renewable energy out to the year 2030 and made them less binding on member states. We also have to take into account the latest clear messages about climate change and global warming signalled by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“While all this is going on at European level, “Minister Rabbitte and the Irish government are persisting with a shambles of an energy policy that has been out of date since 2008, when the worldwide recession began.  Instead of reacting piecemeal to events, the Government needs to initiate an overall  review of energy policy with a view to mapping out the best way forward. 

“The key action required is a calm, rational analysis of the various energy options available so that we can decide on the optimum mix needed to take us through the next ten to fifteen years. We need to involve recognisedinternational experts as well as local communities and stakeholders in a comprehensive review of policy that will look at:

·         The technical challenges and costs associated with different forms of energy generation and transmission – including construction costs, running costs and the cost of compensating people for devaluation of their homes and farms

·         The health effects associated with different forms of energy generation and transmission

·         The environmental effects associated with different forms of energy generation and transmission

·         The climate change benefits – if any – associated with different forms of energy generation and transmission

“If I am elected to the Parliament, I want to be part of that crucial European-wide debate, on your behalf.  I will fight for a rational, sane energy policy that makes sense for people as well as being protective of the
environment.