Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (164)

Billy Timmins


164. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding wind parks (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18524/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

It should be noted that statutory responsibility for development consents lies with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. Also, as is the case with all energy developments currently, each offshore renewable energy project must complete an Environmental Impact Assessment.

As Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, I am charged with developing an energy policy that allows Ireland to realise the potential of our abundant, indigenous, clean energy resources and ensures that Ireland reaps the economic benefits of any such development. I am also very aware of the overarching importance of protecting our marine environment. Realising the economic potential of offshore renewable energy can only be achieved if offshore developments do not adversely impact on our rich marine environment. The Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP), which I published in February, provides the mechanism through which action across Government Departments and Agencies to support the development of offshore renewable electricity generation can be fully coordinated in areas such as environmental monitoring and protection, research and development, consenting procedures, infrastructure requirements and enterprise development.

The OREDP identifies export as the route to market for offshore wind. I recently stated, with regret, that it has not been possible at this time to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement as envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding I signed with the the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in January 2013. Economic analysis undertaken by my officials clearly indicates that under agreed policy and regulatory conditions, renewable energy trading would deliver significant economic benefits to Ireland and the UK, and would also be attractive to developers. However, renewable energy trading has to be designed to work. Based on further discussions between my officials and the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the UK since the Summit in early March, I am confirmed in the view that given the complexities involved, and key decisions yet to be taken by the UK, delivery by 2020 is not now a realistic proposition. However I believe that in the context of a European Internal Market and greater integration, greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is inevitable in the post 2020 scenario.