The Government is “undermining” its own renewable energy targets ahead of a general election in which climate change will influence voters’ polling decisions, one of the country’s main renewable energy representative groups has claimed.
“At the very moment we need to be deploying wind energy at record levels, the Government, through restrictive new planning guidelines, is undermining efforts to achieve its own targets for renewable electricity,” said Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) chief executive David Connolly.
His comments come ahead of Environment Minister Richard Bruton, today, publishing the Government’s draft scheme of its new climate law. Mr Connolly was also speaking on the back of an IWEA survey showing significant public support for wind as a primary energy source. Almost 80% of respondents said they were in favour of wind energy and 55% said they would support the development of a wind farm in their local area.
“The draft wind energy planning guidelines, published before Christmas … would make it more difficult and more expensive to develop renewable energy and to cut Ireland’s CO2 emissions,” he said.
Mr Connolly pointed to proposed new noise levels —“potentially the harshest in Europe” – set to cost every person in Ireland an extra €550 in order for the country to meet its 2030 climate action targets.
“It is hard to understand how proposals like this could be brought forward during a ‘climate emergency’ … More and more people appreciate the benefits of a cheap, indigenous source of carbon-free electricity and want to see Ireland leading in the fight against climate change.”
More than half of those surveyed by the association said climate policy will influence how they vote in the next general election.
“Climate change will be the single greatest challenge for our society and the biggest issue for policymakers in the next few years,” said Mr Connolly.
“It is clear that candidates and parties putting forward policies designed to tackle climate change, including supporting renewable energy like wind power, will be rewarded for it on election day.”
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