Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Electricity Generation and Export: Discussion

2:45 pm

Photo of Paudie CoffeyPaudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)
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I have some queries for Bord na Móna. I thank Mr. D’Arcy for setting the context around the climate change debate, something which we are not discussing enough in this country. In recent weeks there was extreme flooding on various river basins and in villages and towns in my constituency in Waterford. That should act as a wake-up call. Reference was made to one in 50 year weather events. The context is important in terms of energy security and how we will reduce our carbon emissions.

Bord na Móna has 80,000 ha of land in its stewardship. How much of that is redundant? Does Bord na Móna propose to introduce wind farms to its land holdings? Reference was made to isolated locations and that there are no dwelling houses within the vicinity. Could Mr. D’Arcy please expand further on the issue? If the wind farms were not to go ahead on the land, what other uses would be possible? Such land is a national asset as it is owned by a semi-State company. Mr. D’Arcy identified an economic use for the land which is now redundant. Could it be put to a better use?

I agree with much of what was said about a proper planning process. That is where public confidence comes into play in terms of proper spatial planning. It is important to note that the Government is putting out for public consultation new guidelines on the development of wind farms. I welcome that. No matter who the developer is – Bord na Móna or a private developer – proper planning process must be adhered to. Could Mr. D’Arcy clarify the position on the Bord na Móna lands?