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Public Consultation on Renewable Energy Begins

Dublin, 23rd October 2013

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte, T.D. today announced the commencement of the first phase of public consultation on the proposed Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework.

“I have previously stated that the views of local communities must be at the heart of the transition to renewable energy. As a country we have a potential opportunity to realise significant economic benefits from trading our abundant renewable resources with other EU Member States. This consultation gives all interested parties an opportunity, at the outset, to present their views on how we should develop national policy to realise this opportunity”

Written submissions or observations are being sought from all interested parties, including individuals and organisations, to assist in the preparation of the policy and development framework and the scoping of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Report and the Habitats Directive Natura Impact Statement which will accompany the proposed policy and development framework.

The consultation documentation is available on a new section of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources website and has been made available to local authorities for display in their offices. The Minister noted that:

“Transparency in this process is crucial. Through the new dedicated section on my Department’s website, anyone can avail of the information on the consultation but also, on an ongoing basis, wider updates on the project to export renewable energy. In addition to this consultation, the public will have two further opportunities to contribute at key points in the process.”

The Minister reinforced the point that any proposed large—scale wind farms intending to export must await the putting in place of this framework, which will be underpinned by a Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The consultation will remain open until 22 November 2013.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Information on the process for preparing the Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework and the environmental assessments is available on line at tinyurl.com/nvnz8hc  and has been made available to Local Authorities for display.

Written submissions or observations shall be clearly marked Renewable Energy Export Policy and can be sent:

By email to export@dcenr.gov.ie 

By post to Alan Duggan, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Division, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, 29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2.

The closing date for written submissions or observations is 17:30hrs on Friday 22 November 2013.

This consultation is the first of three public consultations that will take place as part of the development of the Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework.

The framework will facilitate An Bord Pleanála in making planning decisions on individual proposed renewable energy developments, regardless of location, of significant scale for export.

The framework will be underpinned by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which is a formal, systematic evaluation of the likely significant environmental effects of implementing a plan or programme before a decision is made to adopt the plan or programme. The SEA will be carried out by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources based on the findings of an Environmental Report. This is in accordance with the provisions of the relevant EU legislation, including Directive 2001/42/EC and the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations, 2004, as amended by the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) (Amendment) Regulations, 2011.

Any party wishing to submit a planning application for a proposed project of significant scale for renewable energy export will be required to compile an Environmental Impact Statement to support the application. In considering such applications, An Bord Pleanála will take account of the Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework underpinned by the SEA completed by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, as well as a project level Environmental Impact Assessment, before making its decision on whether or not to grant planning permission.

Work is progressing on signing an Inter-Governmental Agreement between Ireland and the United Kingdom in early 2014 to facilitate export of renewable energy as a joint project as outlined in the EU Directive (2009/28/EC).

Ireland has just over 2,000 megawatts of renewable generation connected to its power system, mainly onshore wind farms. In the electricity sector, it has been estimated that between 3,500 and 4,000 megawatts of installed wind generation will be required to meet Ireland’s renewable targets, in addition to hydro generation, bio-energy, and renewable combined heat and power (CHP) generators