Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion
I welcome the opportunity to speak on today's motion regarding the establishment of a special joint committee on climate action. This is all well and good if the committee addresses the issues and concerns of the people head on and not become just another junket layer of bureaucracy. I listened to previous speakers who attacked the agriculture sector in respect of climate change. Farmers are in serious difficulties in these times and are caught in a system called calendar farming which no Deputy will understand unless he is a farmer. There are plenty of other ways we need to tackle our climate issues rather than pointing the finger at the farmer all the time.
Last Sunday evening I attended a protest. There is no talk about it in here except from a couple of Independent Deputies. It was a protest in my constituency area of Bantry where hundreds of people turned up with one clear message, that the people of Bantry do not want mechanical harvesting of kelp, which will be the cause of an environmental disaster on our shoreline. These people want to protect their waters. An areas of 1,860 acres is to be mechanically harvested. No one in the Government wants to stand by the people of Bantry. They want us all to lie down. The livelihoods of the fishermen who depend on fishing in these waters are at stake. In the last year, I have worked very closely with the Bantry group and have raised the issue of kelp many times in the House. Only last week, I asked the Taoiseach during Leaders' Questions to stop the mechanical harvesting of kelp in Bantry Bay. I am over a year pleading with the Government to take action and it has stood idly by when it could revoke the licence under Article 12.2. If this special joint committee on climate action is established, would we see real action being taken in cases such as this? Will we just have the same result but with another layer of bureaucracy that costs the taxpayer money that could be invested in our roads, schools, communities, transport network and hospitals?
While I have the floor, I want to talk about solar panels. There are no planning regulations. I have confidence in the Minister. He was down in west Cork and spoke to the people there. He gave them the time with the wind turbines and I greatly appreciate that. He could not have been more clear or more fair to them. I plead with him to make sure that if this committee is set up, it will work for everybody going forward in respect of climate change.