Request for a meeting with officials responsible for Ireland’s energy policy

Dear Minister Rabbitte

I am writing on behalf of the People’s Energy Charter which is a network of individuals, groups and NGOs with community interests who have come together to ensure that energy policy is developed in a way that works as well as possible for communities, the environment and future generations.

The People’s Charter is an ongoing, inclusive process which aims to ensure that the voice and participation of the public is included in energy developments in Ireland. We wish to work closely with all of the social partners to do this.

To this end we respectfully request a meeting with officials responsible for Ireland’s energy policy.

The focus of the PEC is to ensure comprehensive public participation in Irelands energy policies and strategies. Public participation is an integral part of the process in our efforts to move towards an economic, environmental and socially sustainable future that delivers an improved well being for this and future generations.

We evolved following a public meeting in November 2013 which was very well attended by people on all sides of the energy and climate debate. This meeting was one in a series of proactive energy events hosted in Laois by LEAF – a regional transition hub, over the past 2 years. We are committed to a proactive, holistic energy strategy that addresses climate change and independence from fossil fuels.

Public participation is essential in decision making on all environmental issues. While governments and developers come and go, the general public are left with the environment around them. Recognising this fact,

in 1992 the United Nations’ Rio Declaration[2] stated in Principle 10: Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.

In other words, the public has to be given robust procedural rights in relation to ‘Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters’. This is what formed the title of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Aarhus Convention, which drafted Principle 10 into a formal legal structure and applied it to the UNECE region of Europe and Central Asia.

The subject of the Convention goes to the heart of the relationship between people and governments. The Convention is not only an environmental agreement, it is also a Convention about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness.

The Aarhus Convention grants the public rights and imposes on Parties and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice.

With this in mind we respectfully request a meeting with officials responsible for Ireland’s energy policy.

Yours sincerely

Theresa Carter

Coordinator LEAF

Regional Transition Hub

People’s Energy Charter

The People’s Charter is currently supported by the following groups and NGO’s:

CEF – Cork Environmental Forum is a not-for-profit local agenda 21 organisation that promotes sustainable development in County Cork.

COF – Claiming our Future is a national non-party-political civil society network that comprises individuals and organisations from a broad range of civil society sectors. Established in 2010, we aim to make real the values of equality, environmental sustainability, participation, accountability and solidarity.

FOE – Friends of the Earth Ireland campaigns for environmental justice and sustainability. We believe in sustainable development – meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

GEAI – Good Energies Alliance Ireland works through research, advocacy, education and campaigning to influence public opinion and decision-makers in Ireland against on-shore unconventional hydrocarbon development and towards practical policies on energy sources and uses that respect the environment, the planet and people.

Kilcommon and Upperchurch Wind Awareness Group

LEAF – Laois Environmental Action Forum. Regional Transition Hub addressing the challenges of climate change, resource depletion and economic contraction. Raising awareness, networking and supporting environmental stewardship and true sustainability in Laois.

LEN – Laois Environmental Network consists of current and past environmental representatives in Co Laois working together on policy and issues relevant to their respective boards – Laois Partnership Company, County Development Board, Environment and Planning Strategic Policy Committee.

POW – People Over Wind are a community group who are concerned with the size and scale of proposed wind farm developments in the Midlands area and the serious negative impacts on both residents of and visitors to these areas.

Presentation Justice Network Ireland is part of an international network through the International Presentation Association (IPA) which has contacts in 26 countries where sisters, associates and co-workers collaborate on issues of justice and human rights. The Network has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and a full time representative at the UN.

Ratheniska, Timahoe,Spink Substation Action group Formed in 2009 in response to Eirgrid’s proposed Coolnabacca Substation and new 400 kva and 110 kva power lines. Concerned citizens seeking to participate.

TINI – Transition Ireland and Northern Ireland is affiliated to a worldwide initiative building community resilience to face the effects of climate change, peak oil and economic contraction. Transition originated in Kinsale, Co Cork and there are initiatives located throughout Ireland, networked through TINI.

Transition Kerry – Southwest Transition Hub is part of a local, national & international initiative. It is making an effort to get local communities to think about making themselves more resilient, in response to three major challenges in our world: Climate Change, Peak Oil and Economic Change. Transition is about creating awareness and networks to ensure that local sustainability is at the core of all actions and decisions made at local, national & international levels.

Wind Aware Ireland are working to change our Governments flawed policy on wind energy. We believe all wind energy projects and associated grid development must prove they are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable before we proceed with any further development of this sector.

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