“We need to make the most of our natural resources..”

As the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown goes green, and conveniently for those proposed windfarms new legislation on planning applications for such projects got through parliament despite a minor Labour rebellion, Northern Ireland’s Energy Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, launches a consultation on renewable energy.

Commenting on the consultation, the minister continued: “This consultation covers the full range of issues surrounding renewable energy. “I am keen to hear new and different ideas that can positively impact on our renewable energy consumption here. We need to make the most of our natural resources to cut carbon emissions and to ensure a sustainable future for Northern Ireland.”

Has anyone told the Environment Minister?
From the Energy Minister’s statement

Notes to Editors:

In spring 2007, European Union Heads of Government agreed to a binding target that 20% of the EU’s energy (across electricity, heat and transport) should come from renewable sources by 2020. The details of how the EU 2020 target is to be implemented, including the contribution that each Member State is to make, have yet to be agreed. On 23 January 2008, the European Commission issued proposals in the form of a draft EU Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources which set a proposed target of 15% renewable energy consumption in the UK and, for all Member States, a 10% mandatory biofuel target. This Directive will be subject to negotiation between Member States and the EU.

It is important to be clear on the different bases for existing and proposed targets. Current UK and NI renewables targets relate only to electricity, not to renewable energy. The proposed 15% target is across renewable electricity, transport and heat. As such, it cuts across Ministerial responsibilities in Northern Ireland. DETI is working with DRD, DARD, DFP, DOE and DSD to see how renewable energy can best be delivered in NI.

Northern Ireland’s targets currently focus on renewable electricity: 12% by 2012 and with an aspirational target in the NI Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) of 40% by 2025.

The Electrical Grid Study (published earlier this year) showed that up to 42% of electricity generated from renewable sources of energy could be accepted by the grid, provided that the grid infrastructure is significantly upgraded. The Grid Study is available on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment website [and was previously noted here]

A revised Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland is planned for later in 2008/9.

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  • Andrew Kerr

    with the spiraling cost of oil another energy-related issue which will soon inevitably loom large on the horizon is the massive lignite reserves under north Antrim. I fully expect there will be increased pressure to mine this stuff, over the next few years.
    The locals thought they had won a great victory a few years ago, when the powers that be decided not to mine it – but to paraphrase some one else – ‘it hasnt gone away you know’!
    Expect some north Antrim fireworks over that one!

  • Pete Baker


    “I fully expect there will be increased pressure to mine this stuff, over the next few years.”

    No doubt.

    Although it’s not exactly a readily renewable energy source..

  • ulsterfan

    Andrew Kerr

    Don’t even think of it!!!!!!!
    Stay away.
    Wars have started for even less but on the other hand I may be open to offers as every man has his price .
    Lets start the bidding.
    Do I hear £1m—-I am now getting interested.

  • joeCanuck

    You have to hand it to this administration. They are second to no one when it comes to delaying tactics in order to avoid doing anything.

  • I am glad I live in Scotland sometimes. Here we e opening railway lines, looking to increase railway lines, introducing trams back into Edinburgh, taking seriously the notion of reducing the Carbon Footprint by increasing the demand for micro-renewables beyond the established English minimum. And what do I see as the proud boast of the land of my birth, Sammy Wilson the Minister for Environmental Confusion and a total failure by the very limited Arlene Foster to understand that the one natural resource that N.I. has continually blowing winds, not of change but of hot air and the usual wind and piss.
    God I really do despair sometimes. The cannce to really make some difference in how things were under direct rule in the environmental side seems to have escaped the Gorgon Twins. As the rest of the U.K. gets to grips with going green N.I. seems to be intent on getting red with embarrassment when the rest of the world looks at it and says how could you have been so shortsighted to the benefits of being environmentally friendly in planning for the future!

  • Peat Blog


    It certainly helped Auld Reekie that the current Chancellor, and former Transport Minister, just happens to be an Edinburgh MP. Remember that proposed tram schemes for other UK cities were scrapped several years ago but somehow Edinburgh’s wasn’t (wonder why that was?).

    Having said that you are definitely right on the bigger picture. How much are we about to spend on roads in NI (£3 billion) with a tiny fraction on public transport. No mention of electrification of trains here either (we still use diesel).

    Past Ballygawley at the beginning of the week and it currently resembles a desert due to road building. Petrolhead Sammmy certainly won’t change that direction of travel. Ironic that Robinson and Maginnis sent out a joint press release yesterday whinging about the cost of fuel and NIs dependence on it. Maybe they should try clamping down on rural building and sort out public transport instead of constantly begging for money from GB and ROI.

  • joeCanuck

    Exactly, Roy.
    Even only 10 years ago wind power was incredibly expensive and very unreliable, 25% or more downtime, but now it’s coming of age, rapidly. It is fast approaching the cost of fossil fuel generated power and there are few windless days. There are even greater efficiencies close to being commercialized.
    But naw, we’ll set up a commission. Geez.

  • ulsterfan


    Lignite will affect you living in Scotland because the pollution from the power station will easily reach the SW of Scotland.
    Ten years ago I heard Experts say that when oil hit 100 dollars per barrel lignite would be economic to mine.
    The threat to us on North Antrim and parts of Scotland are real.
    It is estimated this fuel will provide 10% of NI energy needs for 100 years.
    Fortunately there is no support at local level for this development and I can not see our Assembly throw their weight behind the mining company seeking planning permission.

  • The Raven

    I had to look twice just to check that someone had actually revisited the topic of lignite….

    That whole strip-mining thing may not sit too well with NITB, and several Councils, attempts to increase the take from tourism…

  • Peat Blog

    Since when has the NITB ever stood in the way of development? They don’t do hardball and I am not aware of any examples of them weighing into the debate over a planning or development proposal, much to many peoples annoyance.

    The Antrim Coast and Glens AONB Management Plan was launched today in Glenarm. One would have expected the Environment Minister, particularly when it relates to his own constituency, to have been there – he wasn’t. Go figure…

  • the Raven

    And on top of that, Peat, Coleraine Borough Council has just launched a bio-diversity action plan with others locally planning to follow suit if they haven’t already begun.

    NITB or not, I really doubt – like Sammy Wilson at an AONB launch – that we’ll see or hear much of lignite again.