NGO PRESS RELEASE ON EU PETITION 3 SEPTEMBER 2001
MONDAY 3 SEPTEMBER, 11 AM PLACE: BUSWELL'S HOTEL PETITION TO EU TO HALT NEW PEAT POWERED ESB STATIONS Patricia McKenna, Green MEP, today launched a Petition to the President of the European Commission on behalf of six Irish environmental NGOs seeking to prevent approval of subsidies for the two new proposed peat powered electricity stations at Laneborough and Shannonbridge. Green TD Trevor Sargent joined Patricia McKenna at the Press Conference before Ms McKenna left for Brussels with the Petition. The Irish Government has applied to the European Commission for approval of a Public Service Obligation to permit the uneconomic cost of producing peat powered electricity to be recovered from all Irish users of electivity. Patrick Finnegan of the newly formed Grian, Greenhouse Ireland Action Network, claim that "by permitting the imposition of a Public Service Obligation to support fossil fuels, the Commission works directly against the restructuring of the Irish electricity industry to favor alternative energy, where a PSO is rightly in place to support wind generation and water turbines and could be extended to the wind generation opportunities identified by Bord na Mona on cut-away bogs." The six environmental groups claim that "the proposed cross subsidising of these power plants will further distort competition and create a market access barrier for alternative and more environmental friendly and cost effective sources of electricity supply and raw materials." The environmentalist claim that the proposed stations will contribute to Ireland's greenhouse emissions through harvesting a valuable carbon sink as well as emitting more CO2 than natural gas. "We hear a great deal about forests as carbon sinks, but forests "sink" only 300 tons of carbon per hectare where raised bogs hold up to 2,000 tons per hectare. Neither the Planning Authority or the Environmental Protection Agency IPCC licenses will address the issue of greenhouse gas emission from the harvesting of turf", a spokesman for the NGOs stated. "The Governments arguments that the new plants are required for national security is outdated by the Corrib gas FIEld. And if the justification is income redistribution, there are more efficient ways of doing it than building power plants." Further Information: An Taisce at 01- 454 1786 or 086-8251236 An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment, Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Grian the Greenhouse Ireland Action Network, The Irish Wildlife Trust, VOICE of Concern for the Irish Environment. Notes to editors Petitions to the European Commission are the right of every citizen. Apporoximatly 1,500 petitions are lodged each year, signed by several million people. Petitions take 12 - 18 months before they are determined by the Committee on Petitions. "The central issue is the subsidisation of a fossil fuel which damages the environment. The Commission should restrict energy subsidies to renewable energy." This Petition has 8 grounds Contravention of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol Though emissions and through harvesting of a carbon sink. Lack of compliance with Habitats Directive Ireland's list of bogs is incomplete. Contravention of Biodiversity Convention Requires protection of our biodiversity even when outside of designated areas. Security of national supply An argument that is weakened both by the Corrib gas FIEld and by the recently built plant at Edenderry. Competition & State Aid Issues & Disadvantaging renewable energy Cross subsidising of these power plants will further distort competition and create a market access barrier for alternative and more environmental friendly and cost effective sources of electricity supply and raw materials. Protection of Archaeological Heritage The Valletta Convention requires the conservation of elements of the archaeological heritage including all remains and objects and any other traces of mankind from past epochs. Lack of rehabilitation proposals Any other form of mining requires binding rehabilitation agreements and consultative after use plans. Further Information: An Taisce at 01- 454 1786 or 086-8251236