Meeting between PEC and DCENR April 2nd 2014 notes

People’s Energy Charter

 

Meeting with Dept Communication, Energy and Natural Resources

April 2nd 4pm. Final notes

 

Attendance:

PEC

  • Aedin McLoughlin – Good Energies Alliance Ireland
  • Fand Cooney – LEAF Laois Environmental Action Forum
  • Kate Ruddock – Friends of the Earth Ireland Policy
  • Martin Hawkes – Burren Beo Trust
  • Phil Kearney – Chair of the taskforce for Public Participation with UNECE
  • Theresa Carter – Coordinator LEAF Regional Transition Hub

 

Dept

  • Alan Duggan – Energy Export
  • Errol Close –  Renewable Energy
  • Rebecca Minch – Assistant Principal Officer (Renewable Electricity)

 

Apologies:

Emer O’Siuchru

Mairead McCabe

 

Focus of this meeting:

“Commitment to and explore a collaborative, community focused, long term Energy Transition Plan ETP with Comprehensive Public Participation CPP”

ETP or Fuinneamh Feasta as SLR call it in NESC proposal.

 

The over arching considerations were proposed by PEC as below.  DCENR noted that it agreed with the points raised but had a wider set of criteria requiring consideration in the context of energy policy.

Throughout this process we must keep in mind our base assumptions –

  1. Communities must be involved in planning
  2. Energy efficiency must be a priority
  3. Renewable energy needs to be developed to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – security of supply
  4. Fuel poverty needs to be addressed, guided by the principles of equality
  5. Climate change and other environmental issues must be addressed

DCENR highlighted the crucial importance of maintaining security and reliability of energy supply as being an additional matter of critical public interest that must inform this process.

 

On foot of the IPCC report release earlier in the week it was raised and we all agreed that there is greater urgency to transition to sustainable energy systems.

 

Some insight into the upcoming green paper process was provided:

A green paper is written to begin the process of writing a policy white paper. This base document which is currently being drafted is expected to be circulated within government for review within the next 5-6 weeks approx. following which it will be made public for consultation. This will follow a written consultation process.

The question was asked – Where do all the branch policies, bio-energy, wind, export etc, fit into the national energy policy – upcoming green paper?

 

It was explained that the energy policy paper doesn’t stand in isolation. The White paper sets out a framework for overall energy policy.  Subsequent policy development in the intervening period between white papers will have regard to the White paper, overall Government policy and any new requirements  arising. It is expected that the new energy policy white paper will be finalised towards the end of 2014.

 

Concerns were raised by the PEC delegation that this is clearly a top-down process, that 3 months is insufficient to mobilise real public participation and that effective participation will be crucial to achieving the objectives of any energy policy. The PEC delegation referenced current widespread public objections to the existing energy policy and some examples were given. The PEC delegation highlighted that this revision of the energy policy is an opportunity to rebuild support for the energy plan within communities but is also a risk period if public participation is perceived to be ineffective or omitted. It was emphasised that we are all interested in a successful outcome to the energy policy process as it impacts on us all.

 

It was also highlighted by the delegation and generally accepted by all that awareness raising and education were important to the participation process. The public very often need to be skilled up to engage effectively. DCENR noted that as part of the recent Stage 1 consultation on the Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework, both an information document and a summary document had been provided to support consultees in introducing themselves to the topic and the material.  The PEC delegation noted that some of the organisations it represented had organised events to help people understand and engage in consultations.

 

The representatives from the Department of Energy were very open to suggestions as to best practice in public participation, to ensure that statutory requirements continue to be met in full and limited public resources uses optimally. They agreed that the current system, while improving, can be improved upon, including understanding how local and national representatives and groups could support public consultation. The Stage 1 energy export policy consultation was cited as a recent example. Under this consultation, documents were issued to both the public and the local authorities (LA) in a similar manner. Statutory consultees received a letter advising them that the documents are available for comment.  Media and social media notifications were used to raise awareness.  Copies of the documents were issued to planning authorities requesting that a hard copy be kept in the authorities buildings to facilitate public access.

 

The delegation outlined some suggestions as to how participation could be approached based on recent experience E.g. The constitutional convention was suggested as a relevant mechanism, also the round table facilitated workshop approach that was taken by the People’s Energy Charter in September 2013 in Laois was cited as another example.

 

The Department officials highlighted that any process would need to take into account the limitations of available resources within the department. It was agreed that a follow-up meeting would take place in approx. 4-6weeks.

 

Energy efficiency was raised as a key point that needs to be addressed as part of any energy policy. The Department officials that were present at the meeting indicated that energy efficiency was outside of their remit. As such, it is suggested by the delegation that a representative of the energy efficiency section of the Department be present at the next meeting.

 

Actions:

The PEC delegation agreed to present suggestions for developing effective public participation at the next meeting. The delegation undertook to provide feedback based on the recent energy export policy consultation – on this note, we would request that a definitive website address be provided for the information to be reviewed or that it be forwarded by email to ensure that we are all reviewing the correct documentation / webpage.

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Meeting with Dept Communication, Energy and Natural Resources April 2nd 2014 Preparatory notes

People’s Energy Charter

Meeting with Dept Communication, Energy and Natural Resources
April 2nd 4pm

There are a two key, timely, events that support the urgency of an Energy Transition Plan:

  • Climate change MUST be taken into serious consideration. The latest IPCC report is out and it is not good. In fact the current course points towards disaster
  • The NESC commissioned research proposed that Ireland needs an Energy Transition Plan along the lines of the Energiewende. Further reading from Geraint Ellis who carried out the research. The first link is a good indicator of what was in the NESC report:

http://www.eolasmagazine.ie/community-acceptance-and-the-future-of-wind-energy/
http://pure.qub.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/community-acceptance-and-the-future-of-wind-energy(c2aa1eab-6150-420d-8549-aee11478cf33).html
Energiewende – http://energytransition.de/
http://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/SP-26.pdf

Agenda

Focus of this meeting:
“Commitment to and explore a collaborative, community focused, long term Energy Transition Plan ETP with Comprehensive Public Participation CPP”
ETP or Fuinneamh Feasta as SLR call it in NESC proposal.

Over arching considerations for communities – and government
Throughout this process we must keep in mind our base assumptions –

  • Communities must be involved in planning
  • Energy efficiency must be a priority
  • Renewable energy needs to be developed to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels
  • Fuel poverty needs to be addressed, guided by the principles of equality
  • Climate change and other environmental issues must be addressed

Some broad questions:

  1. Relevance of NREAP – can it be considered legitimate given Aarhus Compliance Committees ruling? What purpose is it serving other than being a target? Can it be deemed void?
  2. Where do all the branch policies, bio-energy, wind, export etc, fit into the national energy policy – upcoming green paper?
  3. Significance of Climate change and an equitable energy supply. Does the DCENR have any tangible commitments to either?
  4. NESC commissioned research on community acceptance of wind energy. The feedback was an energy transition plan with greater public participation and “community engagement”. Are those present aware of that report?
  5. What can be considered comprehensive public participation?
  6. How to skill up communities to engage in the consultation process?

Call for Comprehensive Public Participation in National Energy Plans  -Press release March 11 2014

***** PRESS RELEASE *****

Call for Comprehensive Public Participation in National Energy Plans

Following the news that there has been a delay to the intergovernmental agreement on energy trading between Ireland and Britain, the People’s Energy Charter calls for comprehensive public participation in the development of a national energy transition plan.

“There is a lack of vision in our national energy planning”, said Theresa Carter, convenor of The People’s Charter for Energy.  “What we have in this country are different bits of energy policies that are all put together haphazardly to make up a disjointed national policy.  There is no central, shared vision, generated by all of our citizens, towards which our government must work.”

Development-led energy proposals with little or no public participation have been common in Ireland over the past number of years as the international oil industry scrapes the barrel of crude oil. We have seen moves towards shale gas exploration, otherwise known as fracking, along the west and northwest of the country, oil drilling proposed in Dublin bay and more recently industrial wind farms in the midlands. Along with the proposed sale of our woodlands it would appear as though all of our energy resources are being given to the highest bidder. These resources belong to the people of Ireland living now and those yet to be born. We have a responsibility to future generations to ensure that they too can meet their needs and have a stable climate.

All of these moves have succeeded in one thing – more people are now aware that we need new energy solutions both to assure security of our future energy supply and to cut carbon emissions.

The People’s Energy Charter believes that all energy policies in our country need to be rewritten taking into account the principles adopted by the People’s Energy Charter:

(i) Communities must be involved at all stages of development of policy

(ii) Renewable energy needs to be developed to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels

(iii) Fuel poverty needs to be addressed, guided by the principles of equality

(iv) Climate change must be addressed, as a matter of urgency

People’s Energy Charter believe that the people of Ireland have the right to comprehensively participate in our national energy future so that it is not left wide open to developers to capitalise on it. Last November the people’s charter began its process of comprehensive collaboration on energy transition by bringing people from all sides of the energy debates together to discuss the best route we can take to a fossil free society.

The Government are currently undertaking a review of National Energy Policy, we now call on Minister Rabbitte to meet with the People’s Energy Charter to see how best we can collaborate on comprehensive public participation for a national energy transition plan.

***** ENDS *****

464 words

 

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 groupFormed 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.