The Republic of Ireland has officially dropped its plan to massively invest in renewable energy wind farms in the Irish Midlands – creating up to 30,00 new jobs – the electricity from which was to have been exported to England.
Ireland and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year to establish a new renewable energy trading plan but no final agreement had since been signed and the project was thrown into doubt as a result.
In his statement, Ireland’s Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbittee, announced that the project will therefore not go ahead. He said:
“I regret that it has not been possible at this time to conclude an agreement as envisaged. However I believe that in the context of a European Internal Market and greater integration, greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is inevitable in the post 2020 scenario.
“Following further discussions between my Department and the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the UK since the summit between the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Cameron last month, I am confirmed in the view that given the economic, policy and regulatory complexities involved, and the key decisions yet to be taken by the UK, delivery by 2020 of a Midlands Wind Export Project is not now a realistic proposition.”
Rabbitte added that that he has informed his UK counterpart that the Government have decided to drop the plan.
This development will give political succour to the Scottish Government, where Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing aims to export Scottish electricity to England to help avert a looming ‘generation crunch’ where overall UK power demand exceeds supply.
There has been increasing opposition in Ireland to wind farms, with opponents saying they are being built too close to homes and detract from the natural environment.