SERIOUS questions about the quality and independence of planning decisions by An Bord Pleanala needed to be addressed especially in regard to large scale electricity and wind farm projects.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin, speaking at a public meeting which she organised in Maynooth on Friday, December 5th to debate the need for a new national energy policy.
“Concerns have arisen in regard to An Bord Pleanala because of perceived past associations of a number of board members and a clear indication in a recent decision which suggested that possible effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) were being dismissed without the necessary justification”, she said.
Huge multi billion euro investment in the Grid 25 project needed to be seriously questioned having regard to the substantial reduction in electricity demand on which that investment had been based, she said. “How can this project be pushed ahead at this time in view of the substantially changed circumstance and the call by the ESB for a review of current policy”, the Independent MEP asked.
The huge demand for capital investment in other sectors such as tackling the water leakage problem and providing badly needed social housing raised serious questions about the current investment plans of EIRGRID, she said.
The 180 wind farm projects planned to be added to existing capacity would substantially exceed the target necessary to meet the country’s requirement for renewable energy, she said. “Is there any real benefit to be gained from so substantially exceeding the wind power target especially when communities are being unnecessarily divided and so many questions remain concerning factors such as disposal of turbines at end of life or project failure”, Independent MEP Marian Harkin concluded.