An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland, have recently appointed an officer with specific responsibility for energy policy in Ireland. The new officer, Elizabeth Muldowney, brings to the organisation an incredible wealth of experience in energy and economic policy-making gained working in the private sector and with Sustainable Energy Ireland. The need for the role within An Taisce emerged over the past two years with a growing awareness within the charity of the precarious nature of Ireland’s over-dependence on gas and our failure to meet carbon emission reduction targets. This came to light as the number of planning applications concerning energy generation plants, and particularly gas, that were referred to An Taisce, rocketed. “I have seen a lack of a holistic approach to energy generation in this country and therefore I have made it a priority to interact with all the main energy stakeholders, and so far we have had a great response” said Elizabeth, “Communication between generators, distributors, regulators and the public is essential if we are to move forward from piecemeal development to a sustainable national energy strategy” she continued, An Taisce sees that in the light of the limited investment capacity in the short and medium term, it is crucial that any investment in energy generation and transmission is initiated on a national strategic basis which optimises renewable capacity and does not waste resources in a new generation of base-load gas power stations. The current ineffective strategy of hoping that significant renewable energy will appear as if by magic is not working.

Investment in strategy is needed from the grass roots up, Elizabeth herself found it impossible to study a direct course in energy policy-making in this country, with the nearest university offering this course being Dundee. “To make intelligent policy makers to carry the country forward in a rapidly changing world, we need to be able to educate them at home, so that their skills are not lost or diluted by being forced to either study abroad or take a less suitable course” Elizabeth stated. An Taisce believes that our use of energy is a vital element of our legacy to future generations, and it is something we need to get right now, as there will be no opportunities to have another go.