Changes foreshadowed in the integrated energy and agriculture markets, leaving Stormont behind

The local vacuum of practical debate over Brexit continues, while real events move on..

I confess I hadn’t  heard of “the Celtic interconnector “ before coming across it in a story  in the Financial  Times. The EU commission made  this  announcement  at the end of June.

A project to build an interconnector linking for the first time the French and Irish electricity systems will today be awarded a €4 million grant from the European Commission…

At 4 million euros, it seems a bargain.

The FT story adds:

Gas is currently imported via a pipeline under the Irish Sea from Moffatt in Scotland, while electricity flows through an interconnector from Wales. The Republic of Ireland also benefits from a UK electricity interconnector between Scotland and Northern Ireland because the island of Ireland has had a single power market since 2007. Integration of the island’s electricity system was one of the most concrete examples of cross-border economic co-operation to emerge from the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland in 1998. London and Dublin have both signalled their desire to maintain current arrangements but that could prove tricky if the UK left the wider EU internal energy market.

What will be the impact on NI’s high energy prices in the future? The province is part of a single market through the north-south interconnector. This recent article in the Bel Tel emphasises its importance.

 The most important element of this is undoubtedly the controversial North-South Interconnector. Even optimistically, this would be unlikely to be online much before 2020 and if the Northern Ireland grid is to be able to accommodate substantial new generation without constraint, this infrastructure is absolutely vital. This is a project that must go ahead to ensure the viability of future large-scale renewables.

So what is its future after Brexit? We should be told. At least, somebody should inquire.

The same applies in spades to the future of farm pricing after Michael  Gove’s  confusing little stopover at Antrim show.

Last week Mr Gove said that farm subsidies will have to be earned rather than just handed out after Brexit – but he also sought to reassure farmers in Northern Ireland about the level of subsidies they will receive.

Cross-border trade in agri-food products will not be affected by whatever final Brexit agreement is struck between London and Brussels, according to the Environment Secretary.

On a surprise visit to the Antrim Show at Shane’s Castle Estate on Saturday, Michael Gove said: “A pragmatic approach will be required to reach a final settlement.

“However, the British Government fully recognises the importance of the long established trading arrangements that are a feature of the farming and food sectors on the island of Ireland.

“These must be retained.”

How will that work if north and south operate different subsidy regimes?


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  • ted hagan

    4 million euro grant rather than 4 billion euro, actually. just to be pernickety.

  • Brian O’Neill

    The main issue with the North-South Interconnector is technical. If you look at the attached graphic you can see there are clear differences between electricity North and South.

    If the interconnector goes ahead then we will have the additional expense of ensuring energy from the republic only goes to nationalist homes.

    Electric from the Republic would be completely incompatible with Unionist kettles. If there are power shortages and either side can’t get their cup of tea this will just cause a further destabilisation of the peace process. We need to proceed with caution or the results could be shocking…

  • The worm!

    “Last week Mr Gove said that farm subsidies will have to be earned rather
    than just handed out after Brexit – but he also sought to reassure
    farmers in Northern Ireland about the level of subsidies they will

    I would actually take great heart from this,……………….if I thought it could be taken literally (which I doubt!).

    It would mean that the level of support for agriculture in general would remain the same, but be more production based in future rather than area based as it is now, which is the industries greatest problem at present.

    I just hope he meant it!

  • 1729torus

    It might be best to look at what treaties the EU has already signed. The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement provides for free trade in energy, including electricity and gas. I don’t see why Articles 268-280 can’t just be copy-and-pasted into any EU-UK Agreement.

  • Michael Dowds

    The agri-food sector in NI (and the rest of the UK) won’t be affected (at all?) by the UK becoming a Third Country from the PoV of the EU.

    How’s that then?

    Sounds like noise to me, but then we’ve come to expect that from HM Gov and Westminster in general, non?

  • Brian Walker

    Whoops! Corrected, thanks

  • William Kinmont

    gestation period 9 months plus approx 2.5 years for beef to grow
    approx 18 months for sheep. Farmers are putting out Bulls now and Tups soon with no idea where we might export the outcome. It will sell somewhere everyone needs food but at what price. Some industries will have contingencys or plans to cope farmers have none. The processing sector here as well as being NIs biggest employer are largely multinational and already have bigger supply chains elsewhere. The crisis here is already unfolding , DAERA are expending all energy trying to implement EU rules and subsidies that are about to be obsolite. Westminster has no reason to care and our lot arnt talking. What tune do you fiddle whilst Rome burns?

  • aquifer

    “controversial North-South Interconnector” How so controversial? were PIRA going to blow it up? Or was somebody scared of green electrons?

  • William Kinmont

    it had the POTENTIAL

  • William Kinmont

    EU dosent put much importance into protecting its agrifood sector . Thats why they only spend about half their total budget on it.

  • aquifer
  • aquifer
  • William Kinmont

    Are they making no preparations due to lack of direction, lack of ability or do they not believe it is happening. DardDAERA are still struggling to implement the CAP changes of 5 years ago.

  • Timothyhound

    Gove is a self serving fool who has nobodies interest at heart except his own. As for his visit? It appears he thought he was in Wales.