Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae has warned that the Climate Action Bill, if implemented in its entirety, “will break the country”.
He spoke during a Dáil debate on the government’s controversial bill last week, before 129 TDs voted in its favour.
He believes the bill will have a “detrimental impact” on Ireland’s economy and will hurt working people, farmers, and those in rural Ireland.
“You [the government] is suggesting that everything will have to run on electricity. But as we know already, you have closed down power stations.”
“We have had three or four close calls since Christmas, and again as recently as a couple of weeks ago. We do not have the ability to generate enough electricity. Just take the data alone.”
“We have been told at the present time that they are taking 8% of all electricity and that in seven years’ time, they will be using more than 30% of all electricity.”
He warned that the cost of electricity will increase, and people will not be able to afford it. The TD pointed out that it has already increased, yet “there has been little mention of it”.
“The cost of everything has increased. The cost of electricity will most certainly increase because it will cost more to generate and transmit it.”
He suggested that the government will have to consider using gas.
“It has ruled out the Shannon liquefied natural gas, LNG, project, but we need gas in the interim because the wind does not blow all the time, and you cannot store energy derived from wind turbines.”
“I appreciate alternative energy. We should be doing that, but we have not been doing that, minister. There is no mention of doing that in relation to solar farms or energy from our rivers.”
“We cannot even smell near a river. We cannot clean out a river to help to prevent people from being flooded; it is a crime.”
He said the issue is that there is no “proper recognition” of the “detrimental” effect that the bill will have on the economy.
“There must be room for gas to keep the lights lit. Methane gas from cows can be used to our benefit by providing gas which can be added to the grid.”
Deputy Healy-Rae said the minister will have to “surrender his ideals” that everything must be electric.
He shed light on electric cars and stressed that Ireland does have sufficient points to charge cars.
“In time, when things improve, electric cars may be fine, but at present, they are not. It is not a sustainable idea to buy an electric car if you are driving to Dublin or long journeys to work.”
“That is the honest, humble truth, and the minister will have to wake up to that. People are being told to get rid of petrol and diesel cars. People do not know what to do at the present time, so they are not buying any car.”
“Those in the motor industry will tell you that. They are getting one story from you [the government] that they should be using electric cars, but at the same time, they know they are not reliable enough until they are.”
The deputy also touched on turf-cutting and believes the government is “hell-bent on stopping rural people from cutting turf, like they did with Bord na Móna”.
“That will happen in time when the present generation will no longer able to cut it. The younger generation may not be interested.
Concluding, deputy Danny Healy-Rae warned that the bill is “going to hurt the working class, the farmer and rural Ireland more so than the urban population like nothing else has before”.
Listen to Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae: