Measures to speed up climate transition approved by Government

  • New Accelerating Renewable Electricity Taskforce Implementation Plan focused on speeding up delivery of Ireland’s renewable electricity
  • Amendment to Environment Bill 2024 will streamline and speed up EPA licence consents

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, has received government approval for two memos which focus on streamlining and speeding up Ireland’s delivery of renewable energy and key climate infrastructure.

The first is the Accelerating Renewable Electricity (ARE) Taskforce Implementation Plan, which sets out nearly 70 actions, many underway already, across grid, planning and markets vital to ensure early delivery of the Climate Action Plan target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030.

The Plan also addresses barriers to early delivery, in particular in the area of planning and permitting and the urgent need to align local plans with national climate and renewable electricity targets as well as the planning and delivery of the electricity network. The faster the delivery of wind and solar energy and supporting infrastructure, the better it will be for householders, competitiveness and emissions.

Analysis by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) suggests that early delivery of onshore renewable electricity generation this decade will drive down wholesale electricity prices by up to 10% leading to lower bills for households and businesses.

Minister Ryan said:

“We have already done an enormous amount of work to strengthen our planning, grid and markets for renewable electricity. The work that will continue over the next three to four years will be vital in ensuring Ireland meets our 2030 renewable electricity and carbon emission targets. Speedy delivery of onshore renewables is critical to Ireland’s energy security and reducing energy costs to homes and businesses. We need to start putting in place the policies and measures now that will allow for the fast-tracked and increased deployment of onshore renewable electricity generation projects and accelerated delivery and development of the onshore electricity grid and electricity storage facilities.”

Key measures identified to meet Ireland’s renewable electricity and carbon emission abatement targets include:

  • A programme to accelerate and monitor the delivery of the electricity grid to support the renewable electricity targets
  • Ensuring that planning and permitting systems support the acceleration of renewable energy generation through statutory planning policy and relevant EU legislation
  • Supporting investment in onshore renewables through competitive auctions and other routes to market
  • Delivering an electricity storage policy framework and a streamlined electricity generation grid connection policy
  • Developing a sustainable community energy sector and providing businesses and farms with opportunities to generate their own clean energy

The ARE Taskforce Implementation Plan will be available on the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications website in the coming days.

Environmental Protection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill

Also at Cabinet today, Government approved the General Scheme for the Environmental Protection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2024.

The main thrust of the Bill is to streamline the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licencing system by providing definite timeframes for EPA licencing decisions and more options for the Agency to efficiently regulate lower risk activities and minor changes to licences. It also ensures that appropriate and proportionate environmental protections are firmly in place.

The decision today aims to provide more certainty around the timeframe for decisions on applications for EPA licences for the energy, food, pharma, chemicals, waste and other industrial sectors and will complement the statutory timelines being introduced under the Planning and Development Bill 2023.

The Bill aims to facilitate more sustainable development and more sustainable economic activity in our economy. Shortening and providing certainty around the length of time it takes to secure a decision on industrial and waste licence applications will support investment decisions to develop the infrastructure required to achieve a circular economy, help to ensure our energy security and facilitate environmental improvements to industrial installations.

Certain industrial activities produce emissions of various substances into the air, water and land. They also generate waste and use resources such as energy and water. The EPA is responsible for issuing licences to prevent and control pollution from industrial and waste activities.

The General Scheme for this Bill will be made available on the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications website in the coming days.

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