Ireland will miss 2030 climate targets due to 'broken planning'

Ireland will miss 2030 climate targets due to 'broken planning'

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has called on the Government to change planning laws which are stalling progress on new wind farms, as a matter of urgency.

Ireland will miss its 2030 climate targets because of a "broken planning system", a new report has warned.

A target of 70% renewable electricity within the next decade will not be reached unless immediate action is taken.

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has called on the Government to change planning laws which are stalling progress on new wind farms, as a matter of urgency.

IWEA CEO Dr David Connolly said Ireland will be "well short" of its climate change commitments if the Government continues with a “business-as-usual approach”.

The IWEA has conceded that the 2022 targets cannot now be met and has warned that the country is set to produce just 5,500MW of onshore wind by the end of the decade, when 8,200MW is needed.

Ireland’s broken planning system is not fit for purpose. This research clearly shows it is now one of the biggest barriers to de-carbonising Ireland’s electricity supply. 

"To deliver the Climate Action Plan we need our planning system to be reformed and adequately resourced," he said.

A report published today points out that appeals to An Bord Pleanála are currently taking 59 weeks, instead of the board’s own 18-week statutory objective.

Dr Connolly said a typical wind-energy project takes between eight and 12 years to complete, adding that delays in the planning system are now a key barrier to achieving 2030 targets.

"We're already behind. This is not a case of we might be behind if it's not done in a month — we are already behind," he said.

"We have 2030 targets and the way that the European directives are transposed for member states is you automatically get a target for 2022 to 2025 and 2027. 

"We're already going to miss the first one, because of that slowdown that we've seen this year, so we're already starting to feel the pressure of these delays," he said.

Dr Connolly said more resources must be given to An Bord Pleanála to deal with applications and appeals.

"We have to deliver the same amount of wind farms in 10 years as we've done in 20, so there's a lot of applications coming; there's a lot of pressure on the system to get decisions through. So we think it's a resourcing issue that there just needs to be more people allocated to make those decisions."

While Ireland is performing extremely well, with the world's highest share of electricity demand met by onshore wind, the report's authors warn of complacency.

"We've noticed in the last three or four months that the number of projects has significantly dropped because we've now reached the end of that 2020 policy framework that drove us so successfully for the last 10 or 15 years. 

"We're now about to hit a major slowdown as we have to reshape the whole picture for 2030," he said.

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