Former Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten is calling on the Government to “pause” the approval of gas and oil exploration licences.
There are clear timelines now set in place to move away from fossil fuels to green sources of energy, he told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland.
He said he had not approved any licences while he was Minister. He had come to the conclusion that such licences should be stopped because of a ‘resilience report’ in relation to the long term gas disruption in the country.
“Up to that one of the strong arguments that had been made in terms of oil exploration off our coast is its need from an energy security point of view, we import 80 per cent of our energy needs.
“Any significant change will require a lot of policy change across Government, the resilience report shows that we don’t have a reliance on oil, because we're moving away from oil, but the view has always been that gas is going to be the transition fuel for the foreseeable future, natural gas, but this particular report shows that we don’t have a long term vulnerability in relation to long term disruption of the pipeline network.
“And that's a significant change and new information that wasn’t available to me at the time I was Minister.
“What the Department needs to do now is to pause any new exploration licenses being issued, I think it's very hard to continue to justify that, with the information that's now available, and the decisions that have been taken by
Cabinet over the last two and a half years.
“I also think it undermines the credibility of marketing Ireland as a green country in terms of our food production if we’re allowing oil exploration to take place. It also has the opportunity to hugely undermine the opportunities we have for the offshore renewable sector, we already have offshore floating turbines in Scotland, they have deployed them there, they can be deployed off the coast of Ireland.
“And remember Irish territorial waters are 10 times the size of the island of Ireland. So there’s a huge opportunity there.”
Mr Naughten said that the right decisions are being taken, but those decisions need to be reflected across Government.