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Wind power ‘benefit’ to the marine sector - a load of hot air!

Editorial comment - Cormac Burke, Chairman, the Irish Fishing & seafood Alliance (IFSA)

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan this week said that Ireland is “well positioned to support the drive away from fossil fuels for our energy security, climate and economy” and went on to add that increasing Ireland’s wind energy production would be beneficial to all Irish sectors, including the marine.

Ireland’s demersal fishing fleet would be forgiven for scratching their heads in disbelief and failing to see where the benefit for them will be as they watch area after area, from the east, south east & west, west and northwest coasts, being authorised with plans for establishing various types of wind farms.

Perhaps the plan is to, after decommissioning, get more vessels to stop fishing so they can be hired as guard vessels to watch over the construction of wind farms going on the very fishing grounds where they used to make a healthy living from?

And, even aside from the obvious loss of productive fishing grounds in the long term, telling the Irish public that these wind farms will bring cheaper energy for Ireland is a joke as, the same as with Ireland’s gas and oil assets, practically all of the wind farm licences seem to be to non-Irish energy companies and within less than a decade Irish people will be paying a non-national energy company for the pleasure of having the use of what is actually an Irish resource.

While doing their best to paper over the fact that the permits are going to non Irish companies, the coalition government are dangling the carrot to the Irish public with a proposed ‘windfall tax’ on the energy companies and that this money would help the Irish economy - but when was the last time anyone ever saw a few extra bob in their pocket because of even a slight payback from the Government in return for Irish resources that have been prostituted out to other nations?

As for any benefit to our fishing industry, given that the EU BAR fund allocated some 600 million euros to Ireland to be used as compensation for loss of quotas and not one single cent of it was given to fishermen, then its unlikely anyone will see even a euro of compensation for fishing grounds lost to wind energy companies.

And all of this ‘benefit’ being talked about by Eamon Ryan - an Environmental Minister who chooses to completely ignore the fact that millions of freshwater eels are being minced by ESB turbines every year while he himself he has played his part in the closing of that once-lucrative fishery in the name of sustainability.

It chills me to the bone to hear Eamon Ryan talking about any ‘benefits to the marine sector’ - this from the same man who wants to ban rural communities from selling a bit of turf, wants everyone to cycle to work (while he drives a gas guzzling 4X4) and who this week stood up in the Dail and made the earth shattering announcement, as if it was a ‘breaking news’ story that only he had the exclusive to, that people must now accept what he had been saying all along and the increasing energy costs is due to the war in the Ukraine.

God save us all

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