Brexit and Assembly ‘casting dark cloud’

John Dallat MLA
John Dallat MLA

SDLP Environment spokesperson John Dallat, MLA, has said that the “twin evils” of Brexit and the absence of an Assembly is casting a dark cloud over key targets for renewable energy.

The MLA for East Derry claimed the lack of decision-making by a functioning Executive was stifling interest by investors in renewable energy in Northern Ireland and that investment that should be coming here is going elsewhere because there is no minister to update the legislation needed.

“This is further complicated by the fact that after Brexit we may not be able to participate in European markets and in a No Deal scenario, energy costs could rise significantly,” he said.

“Further doubts now hang over the cross-border inter-connector- not just in getting it up and running- but how electricity will be bought and sold in a new situation where we are outside the EU. We need to reach new targets of 70 per cent for renewable energy by 2030. However, our legislation is 30 years old and is in urgent need of updating to take account of new developments in how electricity is generated, bought and sold and that is not happening while we cope with Brexit and all its uncertainties coupled with the disgraceful suspension of the assembly.”

Mr. Dallat said that in the past the need for change wasn’t taken seriously and was, on occasions, scorned at. “Our reputation in delivering on green energy wasn’t helped by the botched Renewable Energy Scheme (RHI) which resulted in a public inquiry,” he claimed. “The RHI scandal must not be repeated and lessons must be learned from it. If we are to save our environment and attract capital from inward investors interested in renewable energy, we need to be aware that the current stalemate could end up in an even greater sense of hopelessness in a very dark and long tunnel of failures.”