I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “That” and substitute the following:
Seanad Éireann –
- acknowledges that Irish energy policy is designed to meet the overriding concerns of security of supply, sustainability and cost competitiveness;
- acknowledges that Ireland has agreed as a binding target under EU law that at least 16% of all energy consumed must be from renewable energy sources by the year 2020;
- recognises that both the import and export of electricity, including electricity from renewable sources, will be a feature of an interconnected European single electricity market and that the Government, the regulatory authorities and industry must plan accordingly;
- acknowledges that the memorandum of understanding signed by the Irish and UK Energy Ministers in January 2013 sent a strong signal of our shared interest in exploring the opportunity to export green electricity from Ireland to Britain;
- further recognises that any scenario for the future of Irish energy beyond 2020, regardless of EU targets, will accordingly include a vital role for energy from indigenous renewable sources both in the domestic and export markets;
- acknowledges that renewable energy is a valuable natural resource and that the Government has a duty to safeguard a fair share of any benefits from its exploitation for the people and the State;
- accepts that exporting renewable energy is entirely compatible with meeting the targets imposed by EU law;
- believes a cost-effective ambition for meeting domestic energy demand from renewable sources should be set in line with realistic projections for growth in the generation of energy from onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal power, and other renewables such as hydro and geothermal;
- welcomes the recent publication by the Government of the offshore renewable energy development plan which provides the framework for sustainable exploitation of our offshore wind, wave and tidal resource and the commitment by the Government of €26 million to support research in wave and tidal power;
- welcomes the Government’s close attention to securing value for money in the design and roll-out of the renewable energy feed In tariffs in order that unsustainable supports and unjustified profits are avoided;
- recognises that the rising cost of fuel disproportionately impacts on those on low income and acknowledges the role energy production from domestic sources could play in reducing energy costs, while further acknowledging that improving the thermal efficiency of homes remains the most cost-effective way of increasing energy affordability and reducing energy poverty;
- acknowledges that the Irish landscape is unique in its natural beauty and a significant national resource in aesthetic, environmental, and economic terms and that the construction of any major infrastructural project must take these factors into account;
- welcomes the Government’s July 2012 policy statement on the strategic importance of transmission and other energy infrastructure which underlined that early involvement of the public in energy infrastructure projects and the provision of accurate and up to-date information and transparency is essential; that participation with the purpose of informing and gaining support from the public toward a project is a central pillar of good governance; and that communities have a democratic right to influence decision making;
- agrees that strict and comprehensive planning regulations must be applied to the erection of wind turbines and electricity pylons;
- acknowledges that new electricity supply grid infrastructure is both planned for and constructed in accordance with World Health Organization 2007 guidelines and EU and domestic law, in accordance with the precautionary principle;
- welcomes the fact that an analysis of options, both underground and overhead, for the transmission of high voltage electricity will be undertaken;
- welcomes the imminent publication of a Green Paper on Energy Policy that will, inter alia, further develop and build out a comprehensive and progressive suite of policies that clearly state how our renewable energy targets will be reached; what infrastructure is needed for the development of renewable energy sources; how renewable sources can be developed on an all-Ireland basis; and how renewable sources can best serve the energy needs of Irish people; and
- looks forward to a public debate based on an accurate examination of the facts and issues and rejects ill-informed and populist political sloganeering and scaremongering on issues of such vital national importance.
Will the previous speakers outline what they favour rather than what they are against? The motion needs to be corrected. It refers to undergrounding electricity pylons, but it should refer to undergrounding cables.
I welcome the Minister of State. The events of the past few days may have taken the wind out of our friends of Sinn Féin, given the decision of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources regarding wind turbines. They have dug up a previous motion tabled last November about pylons and putting cables underground. The motion is an exercise in playing to the gallery with the upcoming local and European elections firmly in mind. Sinn Féin is against everything but in favour of nothing. Perhaps the party's Senators can enlighten us as to what we can do.
I welcome the opportunity to educate them about the real world. The motion contains 16 statements but the Minister has dealt with the first statement in that nothing will happen until everything is agreed in respect of turbines. I support the Government's aim to allow for the export of electricity to Britain and further afield if it will create jobs and wealth in the State and I have a history of saying this. I will refer to the motion statement by statement. I agree with a number of them, including the second statement. Where resources are bought at a fair price, they become the property of the purchaser. We live in a free market economy. There is no argument with the third statement. With regard to the fourth statement, I prefer the Minister's comments on this matter. When negotiations are finalised, I envisage that the private sector will fill any void in the production of energy for the domestic market with the surplus available for export but this is a number of years away. ESB International and Vattenfall, one of Europe's largest electricity utilities, have entered an agreement to develop ocean energy on the west coast.
Bioenergy and biomass should have been included in the motion, but they have been left out for some reason, although Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh acknowledged this. The fifth statement is debatable. There are serious concerns about the erection of wind turbines in close proximity to homes. There are also worries about flicker and perceived noise. The setback distances will be legislated for and many of the concerns can be addressed. Wind has benefits, as evidenced by the volume of energy created this winter, which has put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland stated renewables have saved the country €1 billion on imported fossil fuels in the past five years.
The sixth statement is correct. The Government's better energy warmer homes scheme is having a positive impact on reducing fuel poverty among vulnerable customers and we will continue with the scheme. A total of 104,000 homes have benefited under the scheme at a cost of €16 million with another 10,000 to be completed this year.