An integrated, plan led approach that embraces public participation is essential for an efficient, sustainable energy future, the President of the Irish Planning Institute Mary Crowley has said.
Addressing the IPI’s Autumn Planning Conference, Planning to Harness Ireland’s Energy Opportunity, Crowley said “The efficient production and use of energy is a central consideration for planning. The Institute advocates a plan led approach to addressing energy issues and harnessing Ireland’s energy opportunity. Ireland has a draft Offshore Renewable Development Plan but does not have a national onshore renewables plan. A National Renewable Energy Planning Strategy is essential. This plan led approach cannot just consider wind alone but must facilitate and guide the development of all commercial, industrial and community renewable energy projects. It must also address the social acceptance challenge and fears surrounding adverse local environmental impacts. This requires extensive public engagement and consultation to ensure transparency, accountability and ultimately public ownership of the planning process. Planning serves the community and therefore there must be proper engagement and dialogue between all parties at a wider level as early as possible.”
“Proper planning that truly embraces public participation and engagement is considered, evidenced based, accessible and long term. An efficient sustainable energy future needs integrated planning but more fundamentally I believe this should be led by an energised planning profession that is confident in its skills and abilities.”
Opening the Conference, Minister for Planning Jan O’Sullivan says “Sustainability and resilience are important concepts in planning but unfortunately, they have not always been given the respect and the priority they deserve. Before the onset of our economic crisis, we saw sustainability in planning being sacrificed, or even ignored in favour of a short-term narrow view of economic development. I am determined that the planning system itself will have the resilience to withstand the many pressures that come upon it to ensure that that the right thing happens in the right place at the right time. We have started an ambitious programme of reform that will enhance our planning system and ensure that as we emerge from economic crisis we can build a sustainable future of thriving communities.”
According to Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte who is to close the conference “Energy policy plays a key role in creating benefits including the conditions for job creation and economic growth. Our domestic progress towards our 2020 targets has opened a valuable export opportunity. The on-going development of our renewable energy potential, whilst ensuring human, environmental and landscape impacts are mitigated must be supported by policy and planning certainty. I have sought to support this through the undertaking of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan and have recently announced the development of a Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework which will afford an opportunity for all stakeholders including local authorities, potential project developers and local communities to be consulted and input into the national policy for export projects.”