Exploiting ‘Irish oil’ at what cost?

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Exporting oil has made Norway one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Exporting oil has made Norway one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

But in the Germanic way, they have retained ownership of the natural resource and invested their wealth in building a sustainable economy and society.

Arguably, wind is Ireland’s oil. Our geographic location means we have highly lucrative consistent wind that will keep turbines turning and generating a consistent energy supply.

But what price will we have to pay to exploit this resource and what guarantees are there that we can make the most of the resource like the Norwegians.

The early signs are ominous and recent history tells us that Governments here tend to sell the family silver below cost and at a heavy price to communities.

Offaly and the other midland counties have, the experts tell us, the capacity to generate power. But at what cost?

While the county could benefit from wind power, littering Laois with hundreds of giant turbines is already angering communities. Farmers, we are told, will benefit, but are they being bought off cheaply.

Cash-strapped County Councils must act in the best interest of the community but also help to develop a resource. It is a difficult balancing act. It must also avoid the attraction of backing turbines to raise finance.

Exporting the energy generated to Britain is likely to irk some but it is the economics of this plan that we should be concerned about. Are we selling off our power on the cheap so that another country grows economically?

Should we not be harnessing wind energy to develop our own economy? Surely Irish business would flourish if it could avail of cheaper home-grown electricity.

The story of the Corrib Gas fields off Mayo does not reflect well on Government policy. There was no policy then so the gas was sold off quickly and cheaply. Hopefully wind energy is not a repeat performance.