By Martin Kelly
UK Government ministers and their counterparts in the Irish Republic have signed an agreement that will see Irish generated wind power imported into the UK.
The signing of the memorandum of understanding will see 3,000MW of electricity transferred via undersea cable to Wales where it will enter the National Grid.
The agreement will be reviewed after a year before a potential treaty between the UK and the Irish Republic is signed.
The plans will see hundreds of turbines erected in Irish bog lands. However the relatively windless conditions of the areas will mean that turbines will have to be in the region of 600 feet tall, making them amongst the tallest in the world.
There is already strong local opposition to the giant turbines being erected in Ireland. Andrew Duncan, an auctioneer and spokesman for the Lakelands Wind Information group who are opposed to the plan, said: “People don’t actually understand the scale of them,”
He added: “Putting up the largest turbines in the world without consultation – I think it is ludicrous, to be honest.”
Mr Duncan has said that the real reason for the agreement is the growing political opposition to wind turbines in the UK.
One of the companies involved, Element Power, claims that importing Irish renewable electricity will help the UK Government reach its 2020 green energy target.
Mike O’Neill, President and Chief Operating Officer of the company said: “Accepting this firm connection date to deliver clean, green electricity before 2020 means we are ready to help the UK Government reach its security of supply and renewable energy goals affordably with this market-leading initiative.”
Green campaigners gave a mixed response to the announcement with Friends of the Earth insisting the UK Government should be doing more to harness green energy here in the UK.
Commenting , Friends of the Earth’s Energy Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:
“Linking up with Ireland to boost renewable energy will help the UK to cut its emissions, but we should be doing much more to harness our own huge wind resource – onshore and offshore – to create jobs and business opportunities in this country.
“The Government must act now to set a target to clean up our electricity by 2030. This will give firms the confidence they need to invest in the UK’s green economy and export valuable, world-leading expertise.”
According to the BBC, Richard Tol, professor of economics at University of Sussex, said he felt that the whole scheme was “crazy” and would not work in the long term.
“From an Irish perspective this is not selling the family silver; this is giving it away. There is no money staying in Ireland that I can see.
“But from the British perspective it is a good deal,”
The decision to import renewable energy from Ireland will be seen by some as an admission by the UK government that, south of the border at least, imported green energy is now a long term necessity if carbon emission targets are to be met.
The news will also cause problems for Unionist politicians who have repeatedly claimed that the rest of the UK could refuse to import renewable generated electricity from Scotland, should Scots vote Yes in the 2014 independence referendum.