The massive opportunity for offshore renewable projects in Ireland could be lost due to delays in the planning process according to Fine Gael’s Colm Markey, who has described An Bord Pleanála as ‘not fit for purpose’.
The Midlands-North-West MEP was reacting to concerns raised by a number of industry exerts that the system is not equipped to deal with the volume of renewable energy projects in the pipeline.
Markey, a former Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, said our climate targets are in doubt due to too many bottlenecks:
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that An Bord Pleanála is simply not fit for purpose. The Environmental Protection Agency is the latest to warn that more action is needed for Ireland to meet its climate targets but how can we reach them if we’re not able to deliver the infrastructure required for renewables?
The board, or a minimum of three members, must decide on everything from a garage extension to a major infrastructure projects and each application must go through proper due process. The amount of work required is substantial so it’s not surprising there’s a large backlog of cases.
The 18-week statutory deadline for a decision might as well be thrown out the window, as we all know that is usually way off the mark. Recently, Wind Energy Ireland revealed that since the start of 2020, the board hasn’t hit the 18-week target for any wind farm and the average waiting time is actually between 50 and 60 weeks, with some at 100 weeks. How are we supposed to plan for major offshore projects if it takes two years to get a smaller onshore development off the ground?
Planning is built on certainty and with so much uncertainty around the outcome and the risk of judicial review; confidence is lost in the process.
The system needs a complete overhaul and I cautiously welcome plans by the Government to bring about changes to ensure that we can get on with making the transition to renewables in a timely manner and meet our climate targets”.