My Submission to the Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland – July 2014

To whom it may concern

I wish to lodge the following submission with regard to the Public Consultation on Green Paper Energy Policy in Ireland.

Green Energy is an integral part of Ireland’s sustainable future and it is through public education and awareness that our targets for energy efficiency, greenhouse-gas emissions and renewable energy can be met.. As outlined in the Green Paper, Ireland’s energy use altered in recent years due to the recession – less transport energy and industrial energy demands. However, with an upturn in the economy underway it is important that forward planning is undertaken to ensure that our energy demands are kept in check and also that rising energy prices can be controlled.

There are three main themes which I would like to address in this submission:

1. Empowering Energy Citizens

Questions 1, 2 & 4 – How to encourage citizen participation ,engagement and access to energy information:

It is essential that the public are provided with adequate information to encourage them to become part of the transition to future energy paths. This should primarily be done through national media campaigns which reach the greatest amount of the population, and perhaps follow up with social media consultation campaigns. However the key to engagement is offering practical, and ideally financial, incentives to engage in green energy. The current practice of offering SEAI Grants for energy efficient home improvements have proven very effective and in this regard I would suggest increasing the level of funding available and expanding the scheme.

Question 3 – Radically increase the rate of home retrofitting:

As per the previous point, in order to increase the number of home upgrades in large numbers, finance is the major obstacle which needs to be overcome. Also, greater emphasis should be placed on providing training courses in the retrofitting of homes to enhance energy efficiency to upskill professionals in the building trade. This should be particularly aimed at those who have found themselves unemployed due to the collapse in the building industry,

2. Planning and Implementing Essential Energy Infrastructure

Question 17 – Infrastructure projects providing for greater collaboration and engagement with community stakeholders:

It is essential that upgrading Ireland’s energy infrastructure is undertaken in a transparent, informative and consumer friendly manner. In recent times we have seen much public discontent with a number of planned energy developments, most notably those involving wind turbines. The key to preventing this discontent refers back to the previous point of ensuring citizen engagement and public information campaigns. But it is vital that the views and opinions of the public, particularly those who will be directly impacted by the development, are considered in advance of the planning process. For example suggesting underground cabling (where possible) from the outset instead of automatically looking at pylons is important, as this will automatically garner the support of local residents and allows these stakeholders to feel empowered in the process therefore expediting the progression of projects.

3. Ensuring a Balanced and Secure Energy Mix

Question 27 – Strategy to support the continued increase of renewable energy on the electricity grid:

Ireland is an island nation that has an abundance of access to natural resources to provide for wind and hydro energy infrastructure, biomass and bio-digestion These natural resources need to be exploited in order to achieve our energy efficiency targets. Steps have been made in recent years, for example, with the development of wind turbine farms in optimum locations throughout the country. However these developments have often been faced with local opposition due to lack of public engagement and consideration of residential needs. In order to ensure a balanced and secure energy mix, which can make the most of green energy, a proper analysis is required from societal, economic and sustainable points of view.

Kind regards

Anthony Lawlor TD

 

Read More

Questions For The Taoiseach Re: Minister For Foreign Affairs

imagesIsn’t it interesting to hear in the mass media over the weekend that Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are calling for the Dail to return to discuss Gaza in the wake their apparent astonishment at the Irish government’s abstention on the UN resolution to investigate human rights abuses in the current conflict.

We wrote the first commentary on this issue on Thuirsday 24th demanding a statement from the government on the abstention. In fairness to Sinn Fein they are quick off the mark catching on and getting the story into the breakingnews.ie by Friday, but the media only took the story seriously when Fianna Fail jumped on the bandwagon on Sunday, once again honouring FF as the champion of virtue and opposition. Why wait guys ,when the political demand for an answer was outstanding since Thursday?

In addition to the telling us the reason for the abstention in the UN resolution there are some additional questions we would ask the Taiseach to answer:

  • Is it is a good idea for a Minister for Foreign Affairs to be a member of an “Oireachtas Friends of Israel Group”, especially when his role depends upon impartiality?
  • Does this not compromise his position to be an effective and fair minister?
  • In the interests of fairness, is it not also vital that such an important minister shouldn’t be in a “friends of anywhere group” (yes, even Palestine) as it potentially compromises his position?
  • Was Charlie Flanagan chosen for this reason or despite this reason?
  • Does the Taoiseach believe that the standards in public office committee should look at this issue?
  • Do Ireland no longer take independent foreign policy decisions?
  • Is our Ministry for Foreign Affairs now subservient to a European Foreign Ministry?
  • Do Ireland have any say in that?
  • If this was part of one of the treaties that the government signed and if so, why did you not tell the electorate that in the relevant referendum information, and did you hide this information from the electorate?

If the media boys, who get this mail in their subscription, will cover the story, the author would appreciate a credit for DDI this time, thanks. :)

The post Questions For The Taoiseach Re: Minister For Foreign Affairs appeared first on Direct Democracy Ireland.

Read More

My submission to Kildare County Council objecting to wind turbines in Eadestown, Naas, Co. Kildare

29th July 2014 

 

Re: Wind Turbines by ATHGW at Eadestown, Naas, Co. Kildare

 

To whom it may concern

I wish to object to Planning Application Number 14/514 on the following grounds:

A: General development in the area

1. This area is part of Kildare uplands and as a consequence, the proposed wind turbines are in an area of development and environmental sensitivity as per the County Development Plan (see map 2.4):

8.3 To ensure that the location of renewable energy structures should minimise and / or mitigate any adverse visual and environmental impacts on the built or natural environment

8.5.1 It is recognised however that certain areas, which are suitable for the exploitation of large-scale renewable energy, may also coincide with the county’s designated sensitive and scenic areas.

10.3 – In parallel, the quality of the rural environment will be enhanced and protected from inappropriate development and/or practices.

 

2. With regard to the protection of views, the County Development Plan is quite clear (as outlined in Appendix 4) that the views in this area should remain uninhibited:

12. Views West of the Kildare plains from Redbog Area and Views towards Caureen;

from Rathmore Cross Roads to Pipershall. (Location:Greenmount, Redbog, Pipershall, Rathmore West)

The local road that runs through Rathmore provides scenic vistas of the Kildare plains to the southwest and the undulating lands at the County Boundary to the southeast. The elevated nature of the road and the generally low hedgerows and vegetation of the agricultural lands allow long-distance visibility. Although scattered rural housing is located in the area, these are partially screened by existing vegetation. The views available from hedge opening along the road remain unaffected.

See also map attached which details of scenic views and roads in this area.

 

B: Development of turbines in the area

1. While the Council must take into consideration the Wind Energy Guidelines 2006 in the context of this application, it is important to note that these are currently under review. Draft Energy Guidelines were published for consultation on December 2013 and submissions are currently being examined by the Department of Environment, Community and Natural Resources. A main focus of these submissions is the distance from turbines to residential properties. As part of my submission to the Draft Energy Guidelines, I indicated that while international practice varied, the distance should be in correlation with the turbine tip height. As per the suggestion in my submission, it would not be unreasonable to have a distance of ten times the turbine tip considered. As the proposed height for this development is 135 metres, therefore the appropriate set back distance should be 1.35 kilometres. However the nearest residential curtilage to the current development site is just over 500 metres, consequently I believe this development is too close to residential areas.

2. The County Development Plan refers to supporting Green Energy Projects (10.4.8) throughout the rural areas in the county, but with cognisance of the following – the need to protect landscape sensitivities, residential amenities, views or prospects, public rights of way, wildlife, habitats, special areas of conservation, protected structures, bird migration paths, etc. I do not believe that this application takes into consideration these conditions.

3, The County Development Plan recognises that wind energy is an integral part of the overall renewal energy strategy – 8.11.2 – WE 2: To encourage the development of wind energy in suitable locations in an environmentally sustainable manner and in accordance with Government policy. Whilst I also agree with the importance of wind energy, it is important to note that the County Development Plan (8.11.2 – WE 3) also ensures that the assessment of wind energy development proposals will have regard to:

• the sensitivity of the landscape;

• the visual impact on protected views, prospects, scenic routes, as well as local visual impacts;

• the impacts on nature conservation designations, archaeological areas and historic structures, public rights of way and walking routes;

• local environmental impacts, including noise and shadow flicker;

• the visual and environmental impacts of associated development such as access roads, plant and grid connections;

• the scale, size and layout of the project, any cumulative effects due to other projects;

• the impact of the proposed development on protected bird and mammal species

 

C: Impact on the wider community

I am aware that the Department of Defence is also submitting an objection as this development will conflict with air safety regulations for flying operations for the Irish Air Corp based in Baldonnell Airdrome. I fully support their objection.

Kind regards

_________________________

Anthony Lawlor TD

Read More

Let’s act on existing recommendations to stop senseless civilian slaughter – Lawlor

Thursday, 24th July, 2014

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, has said we need accountability in any investigation of the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians in the Gaza conflict. Over the last 16 days almost 700 Palestinians, mostly civilians; and 34 Israelis, the majority of which were soldiers, have been killed. Thousands more have been injured and displaced from their homes during this time.

“In the aftermath of the 2009 conflict, the Goldstone Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was published. The report proposed a number of recommendations to deal with the hostilities in Gaza going forward. It would appear that none of these findings have yet been acted upon. Now is the time to implement these recommendations as they are just as valid today as they were in 2009.

“I am now calling for accountability by both sides involved in the current conflict and active urgent engagement by the international community including the Human Rights Council, the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and the General Assembly. Both sides must end the violence immediately so that talks can begin again in a calm environment.

“Having met with one of the co-authors of the Goldstone Report, I strongly contend that rather than instigating a new investigation, which will invariably delay matters, lets act upon the recommendations already endorsed by the Irish government, along with 114 other states, in 2009. This will save time and lives.

“Recommendations of the Goldstone Report include:

  • Israel should initiate a review of the rules of engagement, standard operating procedures, open fire regulations and other guidance for military and security personnel;
  • Palestinian armed groups should undertake forthwith to respect international humanitarian law, in particular by renouncing attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and take all feasible precautionary measures to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians during hostilities;
  • Donor countries/assistance providers should continue to support the work of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations in documenting and publicly reporting on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and advising relevant authorities on their compliance with international law;

“Last October I had the experience of travelling to Gaza and the West Bank to see first-hand the difficulties of daily life for Palestinians in these areas. I was astounded by the personal toil inflicted on ordinary civilians and the extent of the limitations on their daily lives. Yet despite such adversity I was overwhelmed by their welcome and desire to maintain an ordinary existence, particularly for the sake of their young children.

“Recalling how difficult life already was for Palestinians, I am horrified at recent events and the rising death toll, particularly amongst innocent women and children. Attacks on civilian centres such as homes, recreational facilities, schools and hospitals cannot be condoned by the international community.

“The current day hostilities are highly reminiscent of the 2009 conflict during which 1400 people were killed. Similar to the recent attack on Al-Aqsa hospital where 3 people were killed, in 2009 the Al Quds and Al Wafa hospitals were also hit. Attacks on civilian hospitals, schools and homes are morally wrong and it is clear that the lessons from these previous atrocities have not been learned. It is time for this madness to stop so that preventative measures can be discussed in order to ensure this region never again experiences conflict on this scale.”

ENDS

 

Read More

Why Did Ireland Abstain From International Law and Human Rights Resolution For Gaza?

10371473_943037199046421_7529469035763528367_nYesterday the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution resolution to set up a commission of inquiry into ongoing human rights issues in the present Gaza conflict, requiring all parties to ensure respect for international law. The motion was passed by 29 votes to 1 against, with 17 countries abstaining..

Now we are sure everyone will agree it is a good thing that the international community is demanding adherence to international law and human rights from all sides, however the worrying thing is that 17 countries abstained including Ireland. In this situation one is reminded of many famous quotes like Edmund Burke’s:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Or in more modern times Desmond Tutu said:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

For Ireland to abstain from a call to ensure the implementation of international law in this conflict is very worrying; does that mean Ireland’s government is indifferent to international law and human rights? Well perhaps its true looking at their own human rights record over the last half century.

But what does abstaining say about our government, what reason could there be for abstaining from a resolution that requires that:

“It is imperative that Israel, Hamas and all Palestinian armed groups strictly abide by applicable norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This entails applying the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives; proportionality; and precautions in attack. Not abiding by these principles may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

It would appear that to abstain means the Irish government are somehow beholden to the parties who are subject to the resolution. It is highly unlikely that the Palestinian authority has any lobbying power over Ireland, so the question is are the Irish government making political decisions because they are beholden to Israel, and if so what pressure are they coming under and from whom and for what reasons? Are Irish government decisions being swayed by outside forces, because I don’t believe for a minute that an honest Irish government would put threats to trade ahead of their duty to uphold international law and human rights?

We demand the government make a statement as to why they abstained on this resolution.

This in itself is worrying; but more worrying is the fact that the United States voted against the resolution, meaning they actively disagree with adherence to international law and human rights in this case. This isn’t even a resolution to invade a country or such like; it is simply an even handed demand that international law and human rights be respected by all parties in the conflict, yet the USA are saying they don’t think the parties should respect them. This should make the whole world worried as, if this is their world view, it indicates the USA is setting itself up as a rogue nation in international law, and hence a very dangerous player in world politics. When something is clearly wrong it is our duty to stand up and speak the truth, no matter who it may be, and our government should do the same.

The post Why Did Ireland Abstain From International Law and Human Rights Resolution For Gaza? appeared first on Direct Democracy Ireland.

Read More