At a meeting of the All Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Forum in Fingal County Hall, Swords, members expressed support for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland’s continued membership of the European Union in relation to energy policy.
Speaking afterwards, Forum Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
If the UK leaves the EU, it would no longer be subject to EU rules on climate change policy and would no longer need to meet renewable energy targets. This could have some worrying implications for electricity markets on the island of Ireland.
For instance the UK could decide to prioritise cheap fossil-based electricity, rather than renewables, making it harder for Irish companies to compete until the cost of renewables falls below the cost of fossil fuels. It would also make it difficult to restart discussions about exporting renewable electricity from Ireland to the UK.”
The meeting heard from NFLA Policy Advisor Pete Roche, who outlined how grid interconnections between North and South and between the island of Ireland and the UK help to balance intermittent renewable supplies. These have seen unprecedented but welcome growth in recent years. If the UK were to leave the EU, Ireland could find itself having to build unnecessarily expensive connections to France, pushing up prices for Irish consumers.
The NFLA All Ireland Forum also called on local authorities across Britain and Ireland to buy electricity from 100% renewable electricity suppliers and to develop their own local authority and community-owned supplies, in order to help counter UK plans to build up to seven new nuclear reactors on the other side of the Irish Sea.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
The Irish public have long been opposed to the UK’s nuclear programme. As community energy in the UK is booming, renewable electricity prices continue to fall and plans to build new reactors in South-west England hit the buffers.”
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair from Newry and Mourne, Cllr Michael Carr added:
Local authorities here, north and south, have an opportunity to help the UK provide a renewable alternative to supplant its failed nuclear ambitions. But our best hope of achieving that is if the UK remains subject to the climate and renewable energy agreements made by all EU member states. We would implore voters to take account of the impact a NO vote will have on Ireland, North and South, and the setback it could represent for our efforts here to create an economy powered by renewable energy.”
For more information contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 00 44 161 234 3244.