Sinn Féin TDs Darren O’Rourke and Maurice Quinlivan have called on the government to address the increasingly likely possibility that Ireland is set to miss the 2030 target to generate 80pc of the state’s electricity from renewable energy.
A new report commissioned by Wind Energy Ireland, ‘Act Now: Accelerating onshore renewable energy in Ireland’, has revealed that 95% of industry experts surveyed believe that delays in the planning system and securing connections to the grid mean it is not achievable.
Having raised it as a Topical Issue in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, said:
“This report confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying for some time – that Ireland is set to sail right past our 2030 targets. It reinforces the fact that this governments approach is flawed and undoubtedly lacks the pace, scale and ambition to achieve energy security and independence.
“A staggering 95% of industry experts surveyed believe that Ireland’s slow and adversarial planning system combined with our strained grid capacity is to blame. Significantly, these are obstacles that the government has not only created but nourished due to decades of minimal action and mismanagement.
“This report can hardly come as a surprise. There have been well-publicised problems at An Bord Pleanála, compounded by a backlog of cases, increasingly complex projects and a difficulty filling essential specialist positions. The government has failed to equip the planning system with the resources, expertise and capacity to do the job that is being required of it. As a result, projects are stuck in the planning system for over 90 weeks when the statutory maximum is 18!
“Second to planning delays, the biggest problem identified was grid connection. Wind turbines need to connect to the national grid but there is a shortage of sites where there is infrastructure to connect, and where grid is available, it is often too congested to add extra power.
Limerick TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Maurice Quinlivan TD, continued:
“Due to our vast natural resources, Ireland has an incredible opportunity to become energy secure and independent, to translate our vast natural resources into national wealth for all. However Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green seem content to let it pass us by.
“Renewable energy has the potential to bring transformational change to this island, to resource communities, to bring quality green jobs and to boost our economies. Sinn Féin believes that the best way to achieve this is to expand the public, domestic and community ownership of renewables as we decarbonise our economy and society. The green transition can be for everyone.
“This report should serve as a wakeup call. We know the problems – it is time to get serious about implementing the solutions. It is not good enough to simply set targets. We need to actually deliver them.
“The calls for the government to urgently change tack are growing louder and more numerous. The government must finally take heed. Otherwise they risk not only their own political failure but the future and prosperity of countless generations to come.”