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EU fine threat again highlights the need for improved alternative energy investment, says MEP Nessa Childers

News item

Friday 24 Jan 2014

As the EU threatens Ireland with embarrassing court proceedings and hefty fines, our alternative energy options must be prioritised, MEP Nessa Childers has again asserted.

Yesterday, it was announced that Ireland had continually failed to fully comply with renewable energy targets, and was therefore being referred to the EU’s Court of Justice. The move could result in fines of more than €25,000 a day for the State.

‘I have said consistently that we need as a country to invest in renewable energy,’ Ms Childers stated today. ‘Not only does a lack of investment in this area irrevocably harm our nation environmentally, now it seems that we are also liable to pay fines amounting to thousands of euro a day – all because the Government has failed to ensure that long-ago set energy targets are being met.’

On Wednesday, the EU’s 2030 climate and energy strategy was announced: Ireland’s court-referral less than 24 hours later is seen as being of particular embarrassment.

‘As a country, we are not without renewable energy options,’ the independent MEP added. ‘In particular, I’ve highlight the potential of blue energy – which is generated via our ocean waters.

‘Leinster House needs to realise that it cannot escape its renewable responsibilities. Putting off investment in this area is nothing short of reckless.’

Ms Childers also said that the Government will never achieve its renewable targets unless it improves both ‘its approach to public consultation and the planning laws in place to protect the environment’.

The Friends Of The Irish Environment group agree, commenting today: ‘At 7 per cent, our renewables are barely half of the EU average. It’s really important that we expand our horizons.’

Yesterday, Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger stressed: ‘It is essential that all the Member States implement the renewable energy legislation. Renewables are vital for the security of supply and European economic growth. They are key in mitigating global climate change.’

A formal letter warning Ireland of non-compliance was issued three years ago, and then again in June 2012. The Commission has already referred Austria, Poland and Cyprus to the justice court.