Dublin, 28 January 2016
Minister for Energy Alex White, TD, today (Thursday) published a draft framework document that outlines a process to identify potentially suitable land areas for the large-scale generation of onshore renewable electricity, including wind. The areas indicated in the document include land owned by state companies.
Minister White said this publication fulfilled a commitment set out in the Energy White Paper, which he published last month. "I am publishing this draft framework in a constructive effort to assist public authorities and citizens. We have a responsibility to develop renewable energy and reduce energy-based carbon emissions in ways that protect our environmental and cultural heritage, while meeting local community concerns about energy infrastructure developments, including wind energy," he said.
The Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report for a Renewable Electricity Policy and Development Framework has been published for consultation. Following the consultation process, it will be finalised to provide guidance to citizens, industry, An Bord Pleanala, and other public authorities, for use in conjunction with the Planning Guidelines on Wind Energy Development and other more general planning guidance.
The draft framework broadly identifies potential suitable areas, including land owned by state companies, where large scale renewable electricity projects can be developed in a sustainable way. The existing system for planning permission applications to local authorities or An Bord Pleanála will remain unchanged, and renewable electricity projects will still require planning permission, including environmental impact assessments where appropriate.
Ireland has a legally-binding commitment to produce at least 16% of all energy consumed from renewable sources by 2020. By 2014, renewables accounted for 8.6% of energy consumption. The EU recently adopted a 2030 target – binding at EU level – of at least 27% renewable energy.
Minister White said. "Irish and EU energy policy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 80% and 95% by 2050. That means we cannot simply look to the 2020 targets, challenging as they are. We need to plan for likely new 2030 targets and beyond, and that requires us to identify land areas that are appropriate for the location of necessary renewable energy infrastructure.
"The energy transition also requires improved community participation in policymaking and planning. Governments and international institutions don't have all the answers, and our Energy White Paper places a huge emphasis on citizen and community involvement in decisions about energy policy and infrastructure."
Written submissions and observations are now being sought from interested parties, including individuals and organisations. Further information, including a copy of the Draft Renewable Electricity Policy and Development Framework: Draft Scoping Report – 2016, is available on the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources website here.
Notes for Editors
Information on the process for preparing the Renewable Electricity Policy and Development Framework and the Environmental Report and Natura Impact Statement is available here. Submissions may be made by e-mail to Renewableelectricityconsultation@dcenr.gov.ie or by letter to Renewable Electricity Policy and Development Framework, DCENR, 29-31 Adelaide Road, , Dublin, D02 X285. The closing date for submissions is 22 April 2016. Submissions in relation to the Draft SEA Scoping Report will be published on the DCENR website.