Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Éamon Ó Cuív has criticised the European Union’s 18 month delay in approving the REFIT scheme to allow expansion of renewable energy production in Ireland.


“It is disgraceful that approvals of State aid are taking this inordinate length of time. It is my understanding is that other countries are facing similar hold ups,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.


“The European Union have set ambitious targets for renewable energy production and in Ireland’s case we have set a target of 40% renewable energy electricity production by 2020. It will be impossible for Ireland and other countries to reach their targets if the delays in the bureaucracy in Brussels continue. 


“I am calling on Minister Pat Rabbitte and his Department to secure immediate approval of State aid for this scheme. The Minister must also ensure that the REFIT scheme is designed to give the best terms to the Irish State and to the consumer.


“In view of the urgency of facilitating over 1,000 megawatts of power that could go to financing and construction immediately if the scheme is approved, I urge the Minister to insist on getting approval of REFIT over the next few weeks. Following this the Minister should instigate a review of the scheme to ensure the best deal for the generators and the consumer.


“I have already expressed my concern at aspects of the scheme in the Oireachtas Committee and I believe that these concerns should be further examined.  However in view of the pressing need to progress towards our renewable targets and the delay that has already occurred, any review of the scheme should not be used as an excuse to hold up projects that are ready to roll and afford a further excuse for foot dragging in Brussels. The Lisbon agenda stated that the Union’s objective was to create the most efficient and most competitive economy in Europe. It is ironic when one of the barriers to this is the Union’s own difficulty in making quick decisions.


“Every day lost means we are importing gas and oil that could be substituted by natural, carbon free, indigenous resources. This costs our economy directly and indirectly and puts pressure on us in relation to our Kyoto targets.”