Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Strategic Plan: Bord na Móna
I thank the delegation for coming in this afternoon. The carbon tax has not been implemented by the Northern Ireland Executive, even though it has been introduced throughout the rest of the UK. Mr. Quinn has already clearly outlined the impact that is having. It should be implemented in the North of Ireland to provide a level playing field.
A major reason for insufficient biomass being grown here is that the land is being utilised for other more valuable crops. It is likely that Bord na Móna will import more given that it is cheaper to import it and it has a lower moisture content than the biomass produced here.
How will Bord na Móna encourage more farmers to produce willow, in particular? How can the Government assist in that regard? I am enthusiastic about the proposal to use the Mount Lucas site for solar energy generation. If the solar panels prove successful, will Bord na Móna be more interested in developing solar capacity than wind turbines on its lands? What can the Government do to encourage solar generation? As far as I am concerned, the mix has gone too far towards wind. With regard to the Mount Lucas project, what percentage of the turbines are not in use because other sources of energy are available on the grid? Will the witnesses identify the locations of proposed wind farms over the next seven years? I am concerned about a proposal for large-scale development close to a large property owned by Bord na Móna. In the event of a connection being made to the grid, is it likely that the company will take advantage of the connection? Is the area to which I refer being considered for a wind farm?
I asked earlier about the change in tariff from wind to biodigesters but I got an non-committal answer. We should increase the tariffs for biodigesters but rather than levy the citizens of this State, perhaps we should reduce the tariff on other sources of energy generated from renewables.
The witnesses referred to Drehid, which is in the heart of my constituency. I acknowledge that a community levy is imposed on each tonne going into the site but how many groups are involved and is there engagement with the local community in terms of showing people around the facility? That is a better type of community interaction than simply paying a levy to the local authority for redistribution to the community.