Community ownership will play a key role in the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme to be announced in the coming months, according to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten.

The minister made the comments at the Energy Ireland 2018 conference in Croke Park earlier this week, with the chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Renewables Project Team, Tom Short, welcoming the stance.

Short is adamant that Irish citizens should be entitled to a forefront role when it comes to Ireland’s drive for a low-carbon economy.

At Farm Level

At farm level, it means participating in sustainability programmes such as Origin Green and Smart Farming, the Wicklow farmer said.

It also entails placing greater emphasis on displacing fossil fuel use in homes and farms through micro-energy production, he added.

Short believes that this scheme will provide an exciting opportunity to share in the ownership of renewable projects with local communities – projects which are often imposed on local communities without consultation.

Our carbon efficient livestock sector is all too often the easy target as a response to addressing the climate challenge.

“However, Teagasc’s recently published blueprint for emission reductions highlights that farming can deliver annual reductions of two megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent by displacing fossil fuels with bioenergy crops and renewable energy production,” Short said.

‘Community Ownership’

The aim of community ownership is to lessen the impact of large scale development companies on the Irish landscape and to place the power in the hands of local communities, Short argued.

Large scale development companies can no longer plunder our landscape, put in place renewables and associated infrastructure and take the €500 million collected from households each year as part of the electricity levy (PSO)

“Farming is ready to make its greatest contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the farm-scale renewables space and will work with Minister Naughten and his colleagues in Government to deliver on this,” he concluded.