Communities from all across Laois, the Midlands and right up to Mayo have been in contact with me today seeking urgent clarity around wind farm plans and Government energy policy.
The apparent collapse of the Irish-UK inter-governmental agreement should have triggered a halt to the development of industrial wind farms for export and the attendant grid infrastructure.
However, the utterances of both semi-State and private developers has led to a huge level of anxiety and speculation that these giant wind farms intend to still proceed, ostensibly for the indigenous market. Our own wind energy needs are already over-subscribed and comfortably exceed our renewable targets, while the prospects of an export market for wind appears to have evaporated.
If this is the case, it is necessary for Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte to bring clarity to the situation and restore public confidence that the massive proliferation of thousands of turbines across the country cannot proceed willy-nilly.
Rural communities cannot continue to be haunted by the prospect of phantom wind farms reemerging or 10-year land lease contracts being revived without any economic or environmentally sustainable model and structures being in place.
The UK and Ireland had signed a memorandum of understanding which was to be a prelude to a fully-fledged inter-governmental agreement which now it seems has fallen through. The Oireachtas and the public need to be told on what basis this agreement has failed to conclude.
The latest developments where the UK have not offered to proceed and the EU Commission have signaled an end to binding renewable energy targets also has profound implications for State agencies such as Eirgrid, SEAI, Bord na Mona and Coillte, their business plans and diversification strategies. These too need to be addressed as they also fall under Minister Rabbitte’s remit.
Senator John Whelan