Thursday, 29 April 2021
National Marine Planning Framework: Motion
Like many other Members, I find it extraordinary that the House is being given a few minutes to discuss a document comprising more than 600 pages which has the potential to be of vast importance to the State and its people. I came to the House today from the ESB picket lines and was thinking about the foundation of the ESB as a company run, led and funded by the State and the wonderful job it has done through the decades. It is now being pulled apart by outsourcing and forms of privatisation. These planning guidelines, like those applying to land, are really a dream for developers. The developers will decide what is built and how, why and where it is built.
I wish to spend a few minutes dealing with the chapter relating to energy because it is alarming. The chapter trumpets the use of carbon capture and storage. This is a system that does not exist at scale anywhere on the planet, yet it is being continually used in the climate emergency Bill and in this report. What it is really saying is that the potential to drill for gas and oil remains and this infrastructure that will be developed will not interfere with it. It is clear from the chapter on energy that there is an intention to protect and ring-fence the potential for drilling for and using fossil fuels into the future. That must alarm anybody who is concerned about climate change and how we will deal with it because existing licences for decades to come will not be banned by the Minister, Deputy Ryan, and are good to go until 2035. That means that fossil fuels and their future in this country are part of the report. We have to reject that and not just limit, but end the use of all existing licences. Petroleum-related activity and gas activity have no place in our future but this 600-page document which we are barely given time to discuss has given them pride of place. It is a shame.