Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has voiced her opposition to new proposals recently circulated by the European Commission which seek to revise the Renewable Energy Directive.

The Commission is looking to revise the directive with the aim of ending EU production of all crop based biofuels. Senator Murnane O’Connor says this could have the unintended consequence of preventing the return of agriculture manufacturing to Carlow.

“If enacted, these proposals will have a disastrous impact on rural communities and farmers in particular. It will ban farmers from producing crop based biofuels and will effectively shut down the entire industry. The commission has done a complete u-turn on this issue considering it was encouraging farmers to grow such crops just a few short years ago,” said Senator Murnane O’Connor.

“The European Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations (COPA) has raised serious concerns about the Commission’s proposals, particularly in relation to the negative impact it will have on the sugar beet industry and other crops which are being used to provide environmentally-friendly transport fuel. These concerns simply have not been addressed to date.

“Efforts have been underway for many years now to secure the return of sugar beet manufacturing to Carlow. It will be impossible for this industry to return to Carlow should these proposals be pushed through by the Commission.

“I have raised this matter in the Seanad directly with the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten. The reply I received is woefully inadequate and simply did not address the concerns about the future of sugar beet production in Carlow. The Government should not hesitate to tell the EU Commission to abandon its proposals,” concluded Senator Murnane O’Connor.