June 2, 2022
Solar for schools is a no-brainer – Darren O’Rourke TD, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin spokespersons on Climate Action and Education, Darren O’Rourke TD and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, will today introduce a Bill that will make it easier for schools and community buildings to install solar panels, reducing electricity costs and contributing to our renewable energy production.

The Planning and Development Regulations (Amendment) (Solar Energy for Schools and Community Buildings) Bill 2022 will allow schools and community buildings to install solar panels without the need to obtain planning permission.

Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said:

“Putting solar panels in our schools is a no-brainer.

“Nearly four months ago, the Taoiseach gave commitments that this would be resolved within three weeks. We have not had sight nor sound of any regulatory change since.

“Schools have enough on their plate, without having to go through the arduous task of obtaining planning permission to erect solar panels, let alone the costs involved with these applications.

“This administrative burden is disincentivizing schools from switching to solar power.

“Schools are under pressure at the minute, with the rising costs of energy having a huge impact on their budgets. Without steps to tackle this, we know these additional costs could fall to parents in the form of voluntary contributions in September.

“There are over 4,000 schools in the State. The overwhelming majority do not have solar panels. Imagine the energy that would be saved if they had solar panels. Imagine the money that hard-pressed schools would save.

“By erecting solar panels on school buildings, schools can reduce their energy bills, as well as generating some extra income through selling off excess electricity back to the grid.”

Darren O’Rourke TD, spokesperson on Climate Action, said:

“Report after report highlights the escalating reality of global warming and stresses the urgent need for action to reduce our carbon emissions.

“Despite this, the government is failing to capitalise on easy wins that will help our green transition. The government is high on climate rhetoric and low on delivery.

“It is ridiculous that two years into this government, the planning regulations to allow schools and community buildings to install solar PV have still not been simplified.

“Microgeneration will play an important role in our green energy production, but government inaction is acting as a barrier.”

Senator Lynn Boylan, spokesperson on Climate Justice said:

“The leader of the Green Party sits next to the Minister for Housing at Cabinet. It is within the Minister’s gift to bring these regulations in overnight if he wanted to.

“Clearly, the Greens at the Cabinet table do not have the political will to get this done.

“Sinn Féin will continue to keep the pressure on the government to make solar power in our schools a reality.”

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