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Alternative Energy Strategy must be put in place as oil prices rise‏

14 May, 2008

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the Executive must show leadership on the issue of alternative energy in the face of rising oil prices. Mr McKay was speaking to a Sinn Féin motion on Sustainable Energy at the Assembly.

Mr McKay said:

"We need to work toward a situation where we are much less reliant on oil and where we are much more conservative with our use of energy in general. We are already lagging behind parts of Europe when it comes to renewable energy and there needs to be more investment in this sector, it needs to become more affordable for all sectors of society if we are to effectively combat growing problems, such as fuel poverty.

"There must be more joined up thinking when it comes to getting members of the public to leave the car at home and use public transport, especially in rural areas. Government must ensure that using public transport is more attractive financially and furthermore must educate the public in regard to this. It is well worth pointing out that less cars on the road equals less accidents and less fatalities and is quite a simple way of reducing the carnage that we see here so often.

"Electricity, Coal, Oil and gas prices are all rising, and coupled with the rising prices in food, petrol and mortgage repayments families are struggling - Choices are having to be made between food, heat and light.

"The Enterprise Minister must now set out how he will support renewable energy installers and develop what will be a key market in reducing our reliance on finite fuels. There are Climate Change targets which need to be met and we can make a significant contribution to that by increasing the amount of electricity generated from local renewable sources. A large percentage of our energy usage is domestic based and this is where we need to start changing our old habits; by ensuring that everyone can avail of renewable technology which is affordable, and reduce domestic reliance on oil.

"We have the best wind resource in Europe and we must ensure that Electricity grid and planning constraints are overcome. In the South the government have set an ambitious target of having 33% of their energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. There is no reason why this target could not be met across the island. We have excellent R&D in our colleges and universities and we also have an opportunity to create sustainable jobs in the rural community, in the farming community by incorporating a renewables market into rural diversification.

"Ireland could and should be a leader in renewable energy. We should now build on some of the good work done to date, such as the Installer Academy which already receives commendable reports. This system should be protected and built upon to ensure that renewable technology here remains of the highest standard.

"Sustainable Energy, Reducing our reliance on finite fuels and protecting the most vulnerable in our society from fuel poverty is not the responsibility of any one department, DETI, DSD, DRD and all the other departments need to show joint up planning and leadership to ensure that the forthcoming dilemmas we face in regard to Energy do not detrimentally affect the economy, the environment or the well-being of members of the public." ENDS

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