A more adaptable planning process is required for the provision of renewable energy in Ireland, participants at the European Commission Representation in Ireland’s Roadshow on Energy and Rural Communities in TUS, Athlone, were informed on Monday night.
Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey was addressing the audience alongside Dr Isabella Donnelly, Senior Energy and Environmental Engineer at ORS and Coordinator for SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities and Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of Technological University of the Shannon at an energy roadshow event.
“What is required is a clear, informed and rationally thought-out process that finds the appropriate balance between European law and policy, the role of the EPA, local authorities and An Bord Pleanála.
“Unless this happens as a priority, our road to developing renewable energy sources, opportunities and alternatives will be arrested both on the island itself and in our territorial seas,” Mr Mulvey, addressing the students, energy professionals, civil society and members of the local community gathered at the event, continued.
Mr Mulvey also outlined that over 60 projects and almost €30 million have been agreed and developed under the Just Transition Fund, which was a fund made available in 2020 by the Government to support communities transitioning to a low carbon economy in the Midlands.
Meanwhile, Dr Isabella Donnelly outlined that the potential for communities to become active partners in the move to local, sustainable renewables has “never been greater”.
“The turbulence around energy supply and cost is not only an immense challenge but also an opportunity for communities to move away from the modus operandi and really reflect on energy origins and usage,” Dr Donnelly stated.
President of Technological University of the Shannon Prof. Vincent Cunnane said he was advocating for local informed decision making and speed when it came to planning for renewable infrastructure.
“What we have seen here tonight is that we have a heritage in energy innovation, and have huge potential opportunities in renewables that we are not tapping into at the rate we should do,” Professor Cunnane remarked.
The event was organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland with the support of European Movement Ireland and moderated by the Representation’s Head of Communications, Tim Hayes. It forms part of a series of roadshow events that are being organised around the country focused on the impact of energy on rural communities and on the economy in the context of the EU’s REPowerEU plan.