New National Energy Strategy based on international best practice is essential for future development
Community consultation is key to earning support for projects
Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy has said the collapse of a deal with the British government to supply wind energy from a massive wind farm in the Midlands does not exempt the Government from having to answer serious questions about the local impact of its energy policies.
Deputy Troy said: “Our communities in the Midlands are breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the decision on the British side of this deal but it’s clear our government was happy to plough ahead regardless of the local sensitivities and genuine concerns about this project. Minister Pat Rabbitte needs to inform the Dáil how much taxpayer’s money has been spent on upgrading infrastructure to date but he must also explain what cost benefit analysis of this project was carried out before the Government decided to press ahead with it.
“The European Commission’s decision to change the 2030 renewable targets from ‘binding targets’ to ‘guidelines’ and the UK’s decision to drop its plans to source energy from wind farms in the Midlands creates an opportunity for the Government. Fianna Fáil wants to see a detailed National Energy Strategy, looking at all forms of renewable energy, taking into account international best practice, and allowing all sectors of society feed into this process. I have been calling for this consultative forum for over a year and I think the Government would be wise to pursue this course now.
“While the government is pursuing wind energy as a key component of its renewable energy policy there is still an absolute urgency for clear, robust legislation to deal with any future planning applications for wind farms. Public support must be earned and community consultation is essential on issues including height, distance, noise, flicker etc. We cannot have a situation where communities are railroaded into accepting projects they have not been properly consulted on.
“It is high time this government stopped playing politics with this issue. Recently I received a letter from Minister Jan O’Sullivan confirming the government’s national guidelines will only be produced after the local elections in May. It’s important to stress that even when they are published they will still only be ‘only guidelines’. Minister Rabbitte has also refused to consider any moratorium while a proper national framework is put in place and belatedly announced that there would be a new strategic framework before any export proposals go ahead. The Government needs to be more open and upfront with people about its plans for power generation and wind farms.”