An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, takes this opportunity to clarify the statement in the Sunday Times of 7th March 2010 in which we are quoted as saying that “the Spirit of Ireland” should be “pushed through for the good of the nation”. An Taisce has said that that the planning and regulatory processes need to be audited, improved and interlinked urgently so as to manage efficiently and effectively the implementation of our renewable energy targets in ways that do not undermine the protection of the environment and the ecosystems that support Ireland’s future. An Taisce believes that these changes should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

An Taisce, an environmental charity, exist in order to protect Irelands rich heritage and to guide the sustainable development of the country. While the ‘Spirit of Ireland’ project has huge potential for renewable energy, under no circumstances would An Taisce wish to see a project “pushed through” the existing legal framework for protection of Ireland’s heritage. Considering the size and scope of the ‘Spirit of Ireland’ project, An Taisce is calling for the project to be subject to ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’, as this will ensure that the ‘broader picture’ emerges of the requirements in the Country for energy security and environmental protection.

An Taisce supports the urgent development of renewable energy generation and development of systems to provide backup to that generation. But the charity is insistent that these schemes go through the planning process and do not contravene our own or EU laws and directives. No special case should be made for any specific project. “The Spirit of Ireland”, must go through the complete planning process in line with the Critical Infrastructure Act and will most likely require Environmental Impact Assessments. There will also be a need an appropriate assessment if they are on or near a Natura 2000 nature conservation site. They must also go through a licencing process controlled by the CER (Commission for Energy Regulation), prior to commencement.

ENDS For further information please contact Charles Stanley-Smith Chair man An Taisce +353 87 2411995