SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has said that in the absence of a functioning NI Executive, government Departments must demonstrate unity of purpose with the public to combat the growing climate crisis. The Mid Ulster MLA was speaking following the launch of the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) five-year strategy to transform the electricity grid into a green energy system capable of using mostly renewable energy sources.
Mr McGlone said, “I join with the Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy in welcoming the launch of the new SONI five-year strategy to design a green energy system for Northern Ireland.
“It is essential that SONI helps to lead, shape and inform the necessary transition to a green power system using renewable energy. To achieve that target the amount of renewable energy connected to the grid will need to double by 2030.
“It is evident that the long-term public interest is best served by phasing out the use of non-renewable energy sources, and not by facilitating commercial interests in an industry who would add to the climate crisis.
“However, the Department for the Economy continues to indulge the petroleum industry in their pursuit of profit in non-renewable energy sources against the public interest.
“EHA Exploration Limited are currently seeking a licence from the department for a speculative exploration for non-renewable energy sources in the North.
“The licence application covers a vast area of Northern Ireland stretching from Belfast Lough, across Lough Neagh to Cookstown, and down past Dungannon and beyond Armagh.
“It includes environmentally sensitive habitats for internationally important species.
“The speculative exploration for non-renewable energy sources would be intrusive and disruptive for rural communities in Mid Ulster as well.
“Even in the unlikely event of petroleum reserves being found, the environmental cost of extracting them would be too high to pay. Commercial companies will always pursue profit where they imagine it to be, but government Departments should not indulge that pursuit where it is against the long-term public interest.
“In the absence of a functioning NI Executive, government Departments must demonstrate a unity of purpose with the public to combat the growing climate crisis and end this speculative exploration for non-renewables in the North.”