At a one-on-one meeting in Strasbourg, Nessa Childers MEP warned Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger that serious political unrest is brewing in Ireland as a result of controversial energy proposals.
Seeking firm assurances from the EU that it will refuse to support potentially damaging projects; Ms Childers specifically outlined the concerns of the Irish people surrounding government-backed pylons and wind farms.
Ms Childers said after this morning’s meeting: ‘Our country’s energy infrastructure is being planned without proper consultation and without an adequate assessment.
‘The falling value of land, farms and homes; loss of earnings in agriculture and tourism; health implications; the destruction of natural beauty spots; the conservation of local heritage – these are all very real fears that local communities now have.’
The Government is still backing plans to build large-scale, industrial wind farms and an electricity grid involving 45metre-high pylons across the country.
This energy infrastructure will be part-funded by the EU, and is an element of Ireland’s climate change strategy, which further involves plans to export wind energy to the UK.
However, Commissioner Oettinger assured Ms Childers this morning that funding has not yet been approved for the so-called TEN E projects: wind farms and inter-connectors between Ireland, the UK and France. He added that should such projects be considered by the EU, they would be subject to stringent evaluation, thorough consultation and environmental impact studies.
Ms Childers continued: ‘And with pylons and wind farm proposed for some of Ireland’s most scenic areas, Failte Ireland has understandably already expressed its worry.’ The independent politician further stressed that tourism remains an integral part of our economy. In 2012, she cited, the industry was valued at some €5.4billion, employing an estimated 185,000 people. ‘Do we wish to destroy this well established industry?’ she asked.
EirGrid, the State agency in charge of rolling out Grid25, continues to claim that Ireland needs this infrastructure to create jobs.
‘Our Government must go back to the drawing board and re-think our approach to green energy, and also look at conservation and retrofitting buildings,’ Ms Childers said. ‘We should also look at alternative sources of green energy such as biomass, which would suit our agricultural background.’
Ms Childers presented the Energy Commissioner with a copy of the expert report compiled by the Waterford-based ReThink Pylons campaign group. This report contradicts many of the Government’s claims about Gridlink25.
NOTE: Commissioner Oettinger will attend the EPP meeting to be held in Dublin on March 6 and 7. EPP is Fine Gael’s political grouping in the European Parliament.