Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Renewable Energy Generation

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

10. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the renewable energy projects he will pursue to help reduce the reliance of Ireland on fossil fuels in view of the Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas emissions projections report published recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16250/20]

As this is my first interaction with the Minister in the Dáil, I want to wish him the very best of luck in his role. I look forward to working with him over the coming years in a constructive and productive manner. Both of our parties share the same desire to transition to a greener society and economy but this must be done in a fair and just manner. Climate justice must be at the heart of the Government's approach to reducing carbon emissions. There are huge challenges in the climate action and transport briefs, and I look forward to working with the Minister on these.

My question considers the greenhouse gas emissions projections report produced by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, last week. Will the Minister outline the renewable energy projects the Government will pursue to help reduce the State's reliance on fossil fuels?

I thank Deputy O'Rourke for his kind words and I look forward to working with him over the coming years. He is right that our parties share a common aim and ambition in terms of how we place this country at the centre of leadership in tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis.

As Minister with responsibility for climate action, I will lead on delivering our shared commitment to achieve an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Renewable energy will be at the heart of this transformation and my Department will drive the renewables revolution such that reliance on fossil fuels is reduced as quickly as possible and to the maximum extent possible.

The programme for Government’s green new deal commits to taking the steps to deliver at least 70% renewable electricity by 2030 by, inter alia: holding the first renewable electricity support scheme, RESS, auction by the end of 2020, with auctions held each year thereafter, including the first RESS auction for offshore wind in 2021; giving cross-Government priority to the drafting of the marine planning and development Bill so that it is published as soon as possible and enacted within nine months; producing a whole-of-government plan setting out how we will deliver at least 70% renewable electricity by 2030 and how we will develop the necessary skills base, supply chains, legislation and infrastructure to enable it; finalising and publishing the wind energy guidelines; developing a solar energy strategy for rooftop and ground-based photovoltaics to ensure that a greater share of our electricity needs is met through solar power; continuing EirGrid’s programme, Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System, or DS3; implementing the national retrofit plan; and progressing the planning of the necessary offshore grid infrastructure.

Good progress is already being made on a number of these commitments and, next week, projects will compete in the first auction under the RESS auction system. This will deliver new renewable energy projects to the grid at scale, for the first time ever targeting solar farms to power Irish homes. Onshore and offshore wind will also be developed through the RESS auctions, with the first offshore wind auction planned for next year.

Expanding our renewable energy sources will be key to achieving our carbon emissions targets. The recently published programme for Government states that this Administration is committed to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030. However, what has become clear is that this is an average of 7%, so it seems this Administration plans to backload most of the work to the latter half of this decade, passing the baton to the next Administration. The EPA report states that the full and early implementation of the 2019 climate action plan is needed. Does the Minister agree that now, rather than in the latter half of the decade, we have a prime opportunity to take advantage of the low interest rates for borrowing to invest in substantial renewable energy projects that can help us meet our targets and reduce our emissions?

I agree fully that now is the time to invest and now is the time to act. However, some of those actions, such as introducing the maritime spatial planning legislation to allow us to develop offshore wind, will not actually deliver emissions reductions until the latter part of this decade. It does take that length of time. As to the scale of investment, we are talking of hundreds of millions if not billions of euro, which we should borrow now, but borrow in the knowledge that by the time we get through the planning system, build out the grid, contract the turbines and then install them, it will be the latter half of this decade when that kicks in. The 7% averaging is the correct approach. It is not like we can flick a switch and immediately have offshore wind. Certain products can be developed relatively quickly and, for example, solar farms in the field should not take that long to install. However, anyone involved in the industry would recognise they have already been planning for five or ten years just to get to the point of being able to bid in to develop those resources.

I encourage and implore the Minister to use the opportunity of the July stimulus to be very ambitious for renewable energy. What are the plans for the inclusion of renewable energy projects in the July stimulus? I am aware there are barriers to the development of renewable energy, for example, there are regulatory barriers to offshore wind. I am particularly interested in the model of delivery of renewable energy resources, in particular community involvement, co-operatives and community-led projects. What plans has the Minister for developing different models of delivery?

The delivery of renewables will have to be through both the large-scale projects, such as the offshore projects I have just mentioned, and much smaller projects, so that it is more widely owned. That starts, for example, in the retrofitting of buildings, where we will be taking out an oil or gas-fired boiler and putting in a heat pump powered with renewable electricity. This will help us to balance renewable power in the long run, when we have a large stock of heat pumps that we can turn on and off to match the wind power as it becomes available.

That is an example of the projects we should be targeting in the immediate future – in the next year of the stimulus period - because it can be delivered quickly. Similarly, I agree fully that community involvement and community ownership of renewable power is going to be a critical component of this transformation and this just transition. There are mechanisms within the proposed auction system that will allow us to promote and ensure community ownership within the development of new projects. That political agreement among all parties in the House will help to deliver this as quickly as possible.

Cybersecurity Policy

Cathal Berry

Question:

11. Deputy Cathal Berry asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the level of preparedness of Ireland to protect against cyberattack; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16248/20]

As this is my first opportunity to address the Minister in this forum, I extend my very best wishes to him and his family on his recent appointment. Specifically in regard to his role as Minister with responsibility for communications, I would be grateful if he can update the House on his initial assessment in regard to the ability of this country to prevent and protect itself against cyberattack.

I thank the Deputy for his good wishes and look forward to working with him in this Thirty-third Dáil.

First and foremost, our preparation for cyberattacks has improved. I have returned to the same Ministry where I was ten years ago. At that time, a single individual was working on an informal basis, as much as anything else, to protect our systems. That has now been replaced with the new National Cyber Security Centre, NCSC, which is located within my Department. It is the primary cybersecurity authority in the State and has a number of roles, including leading on cybersecurity incident response and on the resilience and security of critical infrastructure.

The NCSC contains the State’s computer security incident response team, CSIRT. This is the body that responds to the full range of cybersecurity incidents in the State. The CSIRT has international accreditations and operates its own, purpose-built, secure incident response software environment. Since its foundation in 2011, the CSIRT has developed significant expertise in managing cybersecurity incidents and now handles in excess of 2,000 incidents each year. The CSIRT has also developed and deployed the Sensor platform across Departments, and deployed malware information sharing platforms, MISPs, across a range of critical infrastructure operators.

The NCSC has a set of statutory powers to ensure critical infrastructure operators maintain and operate critical infrastructure in a secure manner. To date, 67 operators of essential services have been designated. The compliance team in the NCSC has been working with these entities to improve their security since 2018, and formal audits will start before the end of the current quarter.

The programme for Government commits to the implementation of the 2019 national cybersecurity strategy in full. This strategy includes a number of measures designed to ensure our level of preparedness remains appropriate to deal with likely future threats.

I thank the Minister for that informative response. I commend his Department on publishing the national cybersecurity strategy in December of last year. It is a very good document. I am heartened that there is a significant reference to cybersecurity in the programme for Government. It is important considering the number of international technology firms based in the country and the increase in the move towards digitalisation and remote working as a result of the crisis we are going through.

I am encouraged by the fact that a capacity review is taking place in the NCSC. This is vital, particularly considering how small the centre is. It has only 24 staff approximately, and it is operating on a shoestring budget of only €4 million per year, which is very small considering the major strategic risks the centre is attempting to protect this country against.

I have three questions. Is there any indication when the capacity review is likely to be completed? Will the Government commit to publishing it? Will it commit to implementing its recommendations?

It is true that the importance of this work cannot be understated but I am confident, from my initial briefings from departmental officials, that the scale and expertise are sufficient in the office. The Deputy will be aware that there are other areas of expertise in the State, including in the Garda and Defence Forces, where there are additional resources. Bringing those resources together is often what is needed.

I do not have a completion time for the review but I will ask the Department to revert directly to the Deputy on that.

My philosophy in general, even on cybersecurity, is that openness and transparency are often among the best protections in terms of security in that people can see what our structures are and, if there are weaknesses, help us to address them. I will certainly be compelled to follow the advice in the recommendations once received. I would like to implement them as soon as I can.

That is great. I thank the Minister for clarifying that the programme for Government commits to the full implementation of the national cybersecurity strategy, which is good.

The programme for Government has a specific reference to utilising the potential and important role of the Defence Forces in this regard. How does the Minister envisage the relationship between his Department and the Defence Forces evolving over the lifetime of the Government?

I see the relationship as one of co-operation. Primary responsibility will lie with the NCSC. That is proper and it mirrors best practice throughout the EU, where it is in the civil authorities that overall control and cybersecurity management rest. That will involve a lot of collaboration and personnel moving from the Defence Forces into this area. That provides for a healthy level of operational cohesion. The Defence Forces have specific responsibilities, including in managing their own security and systems. That expertise feeds into the NCSC but primary responsibility rightly lies within our Department. That, however, does not preclude the provision of further resources to the Defence Forces. In the programme for Government talks, we discussed the Defence Forces Reserve and the possibility of building up cybersecurity capabilities through it that might assist with the Defence Forces' work and the wider work of the NCSC.

Fuel Poverty

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

12. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on whether the quadrupling of the carbon tax over the next decade is going to disproportionately affect those who can least afford it and contribute to already high levels of fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16251/20]

I want to ask the Minister about the proposal to quadruple the carbon tax over the next ten years. Sinn Féin has pointed out consistently that without alternatives in place first, it is a punitive tax that will hit workers and families hard. It will associate positive climate change measures with a negative. Some 400,000 people are living in fuel poverty in this State. If they cannot afford to heat their homes now, they will not be in a position to pay a carbon tax.

The programme for Government underlines that carbon tax has an important role to play in addressing behaviours with negative externalities, in this case greenhouse gas emissions. It, therefore, commits to increasing carbon tax to €100 per tonne by 2030, through annual increases of €7.50 per annum to 2029 and €6.50 in 2030.

The clear view of the joint Oireachtas committee was that the introduction of a carbon tax would have to be based on measures to prevent fuel poverty. It is in that context that the programme for Government contains a commitment to commission further research from the ESRI, to be published by October 2020, on how best to protect those affected.

The programme for Government also commits to hypothecating all additional carbon tax revenue into a climate fund, raising an estimated €9.5 billion over the next ten years. This fund will be utilised to ensure that the increases in the carbon tax are progressive by spending €3 billion on targeted social welfare and other initiatives to prevent fuel poverty and ensure a just transition. The fund will provide €5 billion to part-fund a socially progressive national retrofitting programme targeting all homes, but concentrating first on social housing and rental properties in which people are at risk of fuel poverty. Finally, we are committing to allocate €1.5 billion to a REPS-2-style programme to encourage and incentivise farmers to farm in a greener and more sustainable way. This funding will be additional to funding from the Common Agriculture Policy and it will include incentives to plant native forests and to enhance and support biodiversity on family farms.

A significant volume of research has been undertaken in recent years, by the ESRI and others, into the distributional impacts of carbon tax. This research has helped to inform decisions taken in the context of budget 2020 to ring-fence a portion of the additional revenues from increasing the tax to €26 per tonne. I refer to measures to address fuel poverty, including increases in the winter fuel allowance as well as additional funding for the warmer homes scheme. Investing in energy efficiency and low-cost renewable energy comprise the best way of eliminating fuel poverty.

Sinn Féin agrees that we need to reduce our carbon emissions and meet our legally binding targets. It is on the approach to this that we differ from the Government, however. We believe climate action must be socially just and that we must protect people as we transition to a greener economy. It is not just Sinn Féin that disagrees on the approach being proposed by the Government. The Minister previously advocated a fee-and-dividend approach to carbon tax. At his party conference last year, he said the fee-and-dividend approach is progressive and benefits those on low incomes. He stated: "It is a clear immediate signal for everyone to reduce their carbon, but it doesn't hit people in the pocket." Has he completely abandoned that position? Will he outline the specific model of carbon tax that is being proposed?

It is true that I was, and still am, an advocate of the fee-and-dividend model. At all times during the discussions of the joint Oireachtas committee at which we were focusing on how to protect people from fuel poverty, I said clearly that I would not rule out the hypothecation model if it could be designed and structured in a way that achieved the same objectives. I referred to the three-way split. Elements include the allocation of some €3 billion to increase social welfare provisions or other measures specifically to target people at risk of fuel poverty and investing particularly progressively in social housing and rental properties. The best way to address fuel poverty is to improve people’s homes. Another element is the allocation of €1.5 billion for an agricultural scheme, particularly aimed at small family farms. Census data or CSO data show this community is particularly left behind in the current economic system.

The measures being set out can address that social justice objective. As I have said throughout this process, that was the primary aim that we sought to achieve.

I am not persuaded by that argument. In my experience as a public representative in Meath I have seen that there is a cohort of people who will not benefit from the measures that are being proposed, who will see these measures as regressive and who will be disproportionately affected by them. These people are vulnerable and the imposition of a carbon tax without alternatives, which they do not and will not have, will be very difficult. I am not the only one who says this approach is a regressive one and some people in the Minister's party say the same.

I want to ask about the proposed €9.5 billion that the programme for Government says will be raised from the carbon tax. That is a massive commitment to make but there is no detail on how much of this will be raised per year and from what sources. Can the Minister outline some details on that?

Again, I do not have the figures to hand but I will happily ask the Department to follow up on it and to forward to the Deputy the background statistics, which came from the Department of Finance's projection forward as I recall. Strangely, one would hope that in time as a variety of different measures kick in, including the carbon tax, our use of fuels will decrease and the revenue numbers will fall from that sector.

It is clear that carbon tax is an element of this but it is not the only one. The key measures are some of the investment decisions, not just in the use of this €9.5 billion but other private and public sector investments will also have to be made. The retrofitting programme alone is a €30 billion project for the next ten to 15 years. It is beyond compare in terms of the scale of investments we need to make. In that context, the carbon tax will help but it is not the only policy measure, nor is it the critical policy measure to my mind. We will need every measure, such is the scale of change we are seeking to bring about.

Bord na Móna

Carol Nolan

Question:

13. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures he is taking to support the retention and protection of employment under the just transition process in the midlands with specific reference to Bord na Móna and the horticultural sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16124/20]

I want to ask the Minister what measures his Department is taking to support the retention and protection of jobs in the midlands, with specific reference to Bord na Móna workers and those working in the horticultural sector. This question is being asked in the context of a just transition process that is being escalated. It is an unfair transition - it is not just. This question is also being asked in the context of Bord na Móna's decision to suspend all peat harvesting for 2020. There is significant concern around the impact on employment that these two realities have. I call on the Minister and this Government to support Bord na Móna in its appeal to recommence peat harvesting in order to safeguard jobs for as long as possible in the midlands, particularly in Offaly.

The Deputy is right that the just transition we seek in the midlands is critical. It has to be delivered and it is the first real test of the nature of the change we will make as we start to reduce our emissions at scale. It is critical for Bord na Móna that we deliver alternative job opportunities to the sectors and regions most affected and that we ensure vulnerable groups are helped as transformative policies are implemented. The Government is committed to such a just transition, recognising the significant level of change required and that burdens borne must be seen to be fair. This includes support for the work under way in the midlands to deal with the challenges facing Bord na Móna, its employees and various contractors and businesses, including local services which depend on the current business model. A whole-of-government approach to addressing this challenge is being implemented. This involves working with local stakeholders to ensure the people impacted can be best supported.

A just transition fund of €11 million opened on Friday, 19 June and will make money available to support those with good project ideas in the areas of employment and enterprise, training and community supports, and to projects which can make a difference. The call closes on Friday, 17 July and my Department, working with colleagues from other Departments, is preparing to review the project applications and looks forward to being able to select strong project proposals and allocate money to the wider midlands region. An implementation plan is being prepared by my Department in response to the recommendations contained in the first report of the just transition commissioner, and urgent action has already been taken in some key areas. This includes both the just transition fund call for applications, which I have just mentioned, and working with Bord na Móna to facilitate the advanced rehabilitation of bog previously harvested for peat used in electricity generation.

I thank the Minister for that response but I want to take up one point with him straight away. The Minister has not answered my question on whether he will support Bord na Móna in its appeal process to try to recommence peat harvesting in order to safeguard many jobs for as long as possible. We know that bog rehabilitation is spoken about but that will only provide handfuls of jobs in comparison to what we have now. I want to remind the Minister that this is an important employment source for many workers in the midlands, including in Offaly. The reality for workers is completely different from what is written on paper. I have had workers in my offices, many of them with young children and mortgages. Many environmental groups wave the green banner and are aspirational but have no consideration for the lives of others, for the communities or for the small businesses that will be affected by the policies they are advocating for. These people are still struggling to get on their feet and have not fully recovered from the recession. Instead of aspirations, we need common sense, pragmatism and assurances that job creation and retention will be top priorities for this Government in the midlands because we do not want to see our region further decimated. It still has not recovered, as I have said.

The Deputy is right. Those constituents of hers have to be at the centre of all of our attention. The cessation of peat extraction for industrial peat, power generation or horticultural use is a matter that is being led by the courts. The political system cannot intervene in the judicial process in that regard. However, we can start to promote the alternatives that will create the jobs that give us a sustainable future and will provide growth for Bord na Móna and for other private operators involved in managing our bogs into the future. That is not involving a handful of jobs. It has to be hundreds and thousands of jobs. I hope we can look within the stimulus package to advance further measures that will use the expertise that exists within the Bord na Móna workforce in managing bogs to see the storage of carbon and the benefit to the environment, as well as long-term jobs potential in the area.

I thank the Minister for that response and I understand the courts system but we need more than goodwill from the Government. We need strong assurances that the Government will support the retention of jobs for as long as possible, bearing in mind that this just transition was to last until 2030 and everyone was to be given a fair chance to adjust. We have not been given that fair chance. I want to ask the Minister, out of decency to the people of Offaly and the wider midlands area, to be fair about this.

I want to take another point up with the Minister. Will we see solid fuels imported into this country because of a decarbonisation strategy? Will we see something reflective of what happened in agriculture with the sugar beet industry? We saw sugar being imported and we saw where wrong decisions were made. I have fears of the same thing happening with fuel. That is why we need aspiration to be replaced by pragmatism and common sense and why we need to meet the needs of people in this State, including in the midlands. It is certain that we will have fuel poverty and that we will see imports coming in. I would like the Minister to answer those queries.

The programme for Government commits that within the lifetime of the Government we will solve the air pollution problem, which is a particular problem for many towns in the midlands, by moving away from the use of all smoky products that add to the air quality problem, especially imported products. That is a commitment.

Bord na Móna's new strategic plan that came out in response to the crisis that is facing the company needs to be more ambitious again, particularly when it comes to employment generation.

I believe there is a real opportunity for the company, not just in the area I mentioned of managing bogs, to restore biodiversity and store carbon but also in the using of the company's logistics and energy skills. For example, the retrofit programme we spoke about earlier is the perfect sort of project for Bord na Móna to develop apprenticeships, employ younger people who will have a 30 or 40-year career in rolling out the scale of change we need to make. Similarly, in the development of renewable power, I believe the company has real potential in wind, solar and other power supply systems to develop an economic base for the midlands that is the best example of public enterprise, which is in the tradition of that company. It is through those sorts of initiatives where we can create jobs.

North-South Interconnector

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

14. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the North-South interconnector; if his attention has been drawn to the considerable local opposition to the proposed pylons included in this plan; his views on an independent review of this project which will consider the undergrounding of these power lines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16252/20]

I want to raise the issue of the North-South interconnector with the Minister. I am fully aware of the importance of connecting the electricity and energy grids on this island. However, this project has met with spectacular local opposition to the pylons and overhead power lines along the route. Is the Minister aware of the level of anger and opposition on the ground to this project? As a TD from the constituency it is running through I can tell the Minister it simply will not proceed as a project in its current form.

I thank Deputy O'Rourke. I am aware of the anger and the intense public concern in a variety of areas but I am also aware of the critical importance of this piece of infrastructure for the island of Ireland and for co-operation North and South and the benefits for all our people. It is critical to improving the efficient operation of the single electricity market and increasing security of electricity supply across the island. It will also help us to move towards a 70% renewable electricity target, which is a commitment made in the recent programme for Government. It will help us get a resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure, which is vital for our economic well-being, and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.

I am aware that there are concerns in relation to the construction. The option of undergrounding the line has been assessed at length on several occasions over the years. Most recently, my Department published an independent study in October 2018 on undergrounding the interconnector, which found that an overhead line remained the most appropriate option for the proposed interconnector. The study report is available on the Department's website. It was the latest in a series of studies that reached the same conclusion and I do not intend to order a further review of the project.

This goes back to 2003 or 2004. The Cathaoirleach and I shared a seat when we were on the Oireachtas joint committee on energy, if he recalls, although it was 15 or 20 years ago, where the urgency of the project was outlined to us. That urgency remains. The benefits remain and I believe it can be built in a way that protects health, which is the first priority in any instance, which can deliver economic benefits, particularly in those counties each side of the Border. Where it has been difficult to get employment this will bring other ancillary benefits. I understand that the main problem is now North of the Border so if Deputy O'Rourke's colleagues, as an all-Ireland party, could help overcome those we will see real economic benefits to both sides of the Border, which is what I believe we all agree we seek to deliver.

Go raibh maith agat, a Aire. At the heart of this issue is a fundamental principle that will affect much of what we both want to achieve in terms of ambition around climate change, that is, the fundamental principle of public participation in decision-making. The Minister referenced the reviews that took place. He knows as well as I do that for every one of those reviews there is a real criticism in terms of the scope, nature and extent of the review and the comparisons that were drawn upon. At every hand's turn we have seen a case where the community position on it has not been meaningfully taken on board. That leaves a very bad taste and huge resistance locally. I ask the Minister, as a follow-up question, what the cost of this project has been to date. I am standing by that position. Unless there is a meeting of minds in respect of this we will throw good money after bad and this project will not be delivered.

The most recent estimates I have from the Department on the cost of the project is that €180 million will be incurred in the South, with the remaining €109 million being incurred in Northern Ireland. The total figure estimated by the International Expert Commission was a cost of €230 million. I do not have the figure for the cost incurred to date but I imagine it is not insignificant given, as I said, that this project has been many years within the planning process and has been reviewed extensively going back at least ten years in my recollection.

I return to the key point. I believe this project will deliver real value for money. My last memory of the cost of not having this facility is that it would be approximately €30 million a year that the Irish customer is currently paying through much higher bills than would otherwise be the case if we had the interconnector, so there are real savings to be achieved. More than that, this is fundamental to whether we have an all-island energy policy. We are at real risk of cutting off the North and at real cost, not just to the South but also to the citizens in Northern Ireland. My real concern is that this would divide our island at a time when I would prefer to see us having a shared island.

I do not disagree with the Minister on a number of those points but I believe we are not speaking to each other in this exchange. We are speaking past each other because the points I am raising are the points that have been raised by the community and it is my firm opinion that unless we address those concerns specifically we will not make progress. The Minister has responsibility for delivering this project. I am asking him, as a constituency TD who wants to see the project delivered, how he intends to deliver it. My firm opinion is that it will not be delivered in the current form and reasonable concerns have been raised by local communities about the nature of the proposal, how it was developed and the alternatives that exist. There is a forensic level of knowledge in the local community and I give them great credit in that regard. I know that currently there is not access to the lands. I do not see that at any point in time in the future. There have been signs up in those communities for ten years. How will the Minister deliver this project, which is a commitment of the Government, in light of the huge community resistance?

I hope we are not speaking past each other. I want to be as honest and up-front as I can be in saying I believe the project should proceed under the planning permission it has and in line with all the reviews that were done. My personal view, having looked at this in real depth and detail over the years, is that I do not believe it is technically possible or optimal to do it with an alternative design. As I said, we have to be very cognisant of health and local communities as we are building it but I believe the current proposal is the best way of doing that so I will be supportive of that. One of the biggest obstacles now is in the political system in Stormont. My hope is that we can work with our colleagues in the Assembly to minimise any downsides for local communities but to make sure we do not miss the strategic importance of uniting our island energy markets, which is something we agree on across the political spectrum.