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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019

Rabbitte set to face questions on 'shelving' of UK wind export plan

The plan would see up to 1,000 turbines constructed in Ireland but negotiations on this with the UK appear to have stalled.

Image: Flickr/Tim Phillips

MINISTER PAT RABBITTE will face numerous questions in the coming week about the apparent shelving of plans to build a series of wind farms in the midlands to export energy to the UK.

The plan would see up to 1,000 turbines constructed in Ireland and was devised as part of a memorandum of understanding signed with the UK last year.

But a final inter-governmental agreement has been thrown into doubt according to reports earlier this week in the Irish Independent which said that that the plan has been shelved.

Various groups and politicians had objected to the plan, criticising the Government for its scale and ang for not consulting local people about its development.

But the Government and the wind energy companies had estimated that the plan would create up to 30,000 jobs countrywide and lead to investment totalling €18 billion by 2020.

Under EU rules, an inter-governmental agreement is required before countries can begin trading wind energy but negotiations on this with the UK appear to have stalled.

Labour Senator John Whelan has been a consistent opponent of the plan and says that it is clear that the British Government have “pulled the plug” on it.

“I commend the decision of the UK Climate and Energy Secretary, Minister Ed Davey, not to proceed with an inter-governmental agreement,” he said.

This would have led to the catastrophic erection of thousands of giant wind farms throughout the country. However, we won’t be celebrating just yet as we must now have absolute clarity as to the import and implications of this decision.

More clarity may come this week with questions due to Rabittee in the Dáil and Seanad on Tuesday and then again in the Seanad on Wednesday.

Sinn Féin have put forward the issue for Private Member’s Business on Wednesday with party Senator David Cullinane saying that the plan itself demonstrated how “out of touch this government is with the reality of life for ordinary people”.

“It is ludicrous to think the Government was planning to cover huge areas of the Irish countryside with monstrous wind turbines so they could export energy to Britain while at the same time people on low incomes here in Ireland are experiencing fuel poverty,” he said.

Read: These five graphs dig into the figures behind wind energy in Ireland >

Read: IKEA to invest in Leitrim wind farm to power Irish stores >

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Rónán Duffy

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