Still awaiting the SDLP, UUP and DUP manifestos for the 2017 General election with 13 days to go, NIRIG took a quick look at where energy – crucial for the functioning of any economy – sits in priorities for NI political parties.
The Sinn Fein Manifesto has little detail on energy issues, merely noting the aim of ensuring that EU energy and Infrastructure programmes look at the needs of the island of Ireland as a whole. While welcome, this does not provide sufficient strategic vision on decarbonisation and security of supply. Furthermore, the delivery of the North-South interconnector is a crucial need for the ‘island of Ireland as a whole’ but Sinn Fein support for this vital project has been equivocal, at best.
The Green Party contains a clear commitment to protect the environment and tackle climate change, ensuring that renewable sources of energy are prioritised and transport is decarbonised.The Alliance Party also recognises the importance of delivering on renewables,with a plan to create a long term, 40-year energy strategy covering all forms of renewable energy and the proposal to introduce a Renewable Energy Bill to modernise the renewable energy market and ensure that investment in renewable energy in Northern Ireland is attractive to external investors.
With the Strategic Energy Framework 2010-2020 rapidly becoming redundant due to significant successes in delivering on our renewable energy promise, Northern Ireland now needs all political parties to focus on energy beyond 2020. The revolution in renewables is gaining business support, lowering costs, excelling in innovation, creating jobs and greening the economy. Long-term clarity on an energy vision is vital to sustain these benefits for the NI economy.