IFA President Eddie Downey has described the decision by Energy Minister Alex White to prioritise the delivery of a National Energy Plan and rural broadband as “important measures which will make a real difference for farm families and rural Ireland”.
Speaking after a meeting with Minister White he said, “The National Energy Plan must provide a clear directional path for future energy policy over the next decade, similar to the Food Harvest 2020 strategy for the agri-food sector”.
IFA’s Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman Harold Kingston said, “This plan must set out the Government funding that will be required to deliver the objectives of the strategy. There must also be a clear commitment to engage with local communities and consider all options, including undergrounding when planning energy infrastructure”.
On broadband, Eddie Downey said, “High-quality broadband service in rural Ireland is essential for rural communities, for businesses, for education and general access to services. The new rural broadband scheme which Minister White is about to announce represents a real opportunity to finally address the digital divide by ensuring all rural communities have access to essential broadband services”.
IFA Renewables Project Team Chairman, James Murphy, has welcomed the recent publication of a draft National Bioenergy plan. However, he has called for the immediate establishment of a cross sector steering group to deliver on the many proposals identified in the bioenergy strategy. “Government commitment to an indigenous bioenergy sector has been lacking in the past. Bio-energy represents a real farm diversification opportunity. It will also deliver important National and EU renewable energy and climate targets. It is important that Government comes forward with specific policy actions and a timeframe for the delivery of these policy actions to kick start a vibrant bio-energy sector in Ireland.”