The Fianna Fáil MEP candidate in Midlands-North West, Senator Thomas Byrne, has accused the Communications and Energy Minister, Pat Rabbitte, of making up energy policy piecemeal in reaction to events instead of having a strategic plan.
Speaking tonight in Carlanstown, county Meath, at a public meeting organised by North Meath Wind Information Group and in advance of tomorrow’s major rally against wind farms and pylons in Dublin, Senator Byrne said, “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. Minister Rabbitte and the Irish government are persisting with a renewable energy policy has been out of date since 2008, when the worldwide recession began.
“In the new European Parliament, energy policy will rival banking as the major issue to be faced. 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. I want to be part of that debate, on your behalf. If I am elected to the Parliament, I will fight for a rational, sane energy policy that makes sense for people as well as being protective of the environment.
“While they all have advantages, no form of energy is without its downsides. Up to now, the pretence – especially from Eamon Ryan and the Green Party – has been that wind energy is cost-free and clean. That is not always the case.
“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 recognised international 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
Minister Rabbitte’s announcement that the Midlands Wind Energy Export Project has been pushed out beyond 2020 – but not scrapped – is a typical case of ‘too little, too late’. It satisfies nobody only the Minister and his advisers.
“Of course, we need cheaper, safe energy. Of course, we should look at renewables as an option – but not at any price and I accept that we need to modernise the electricity grid. But the government’s energy policy is too heavily reliant on an outdated renewables strategy while technology and economics are moving towards other solutions.