The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine will meet this evening (Wednesday, May 4) to discuss solar energy and the agriculture industry.

The meeting at 5:30p.m at Leinster House will be split into two sessions.

The first half of the committee meeting will hear from representatives from the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA). There will follow a presentation from representatives of Teagasc.

Committee cathaoirleach, deputy Jackie Cahill said: “Solar energy is one of the options available that can offer the agriculture sector an energy source to help farmers and the wider agri industry meet their future carbon emission reduction targets.

“The committee looks forward to hearing the views of the ISEA and Teagasc on this important matter for our agri economy, rural communities and wider society in the coming decades.”

The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has 14 members, nine from the Dáil and five from the Seanad.

Solar energy

Recently, the Micro-Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) hit out at repeated government delays in implementing planning exemptions for solar panels.

The group claimed that the delay exposes “a lack of strategic commitment from the government to Ireland’s climate action objectives and targets”.

Pat Smith, chair of MREF, said that the repeated delays in implementing a meaningful exclusion from planning requirements for solar energy installations was undermining renewable energy projects that businesses and farmers are committed to undertaking.

“The need for these exclusions was raised by MREF four years ago and committed to by every government since, including government ministers, yet we still don’t have the planning exclusions that the micro-renewable energy sector needs,” Smith said at the time.

Green Party TD Steven Matthews had also confirmed that planning exemptions are expected by the end of June.

The derogation means that permission would no longer be required for larger installations of solar panels on residential rooftops; farm building; schools; community centres; and some commercial buildings.