Yesterday in the assembly, there were more antics from the Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson.
I heard it on the radio as I was travelling home last night. I was not going to write about it at all until I went to work this morning and was struck by the ferocity of the wind. Northern Ireland is a wind rich country. We need a revision of the existing grant scheme and planning policy in order to encourage people to make use of it.
Yesterday, members of the Assembly debated a motion which included a call on the Environment Minister to withdraw his opposition to the ’Act on CO2′ Earlier, “no confidence “ motion introduced by the Environment committee against Mr. Wilson. What was Wilson’s response?
He ran a check on the cars parked at Stormont and the petrol expense claims of all members of the committee. It was Tommy Gallagher, MLA, the committee member who introduced the ‘no confidence’ motion who was on the receiving end of this taunt:
“Had Mr Gallagher been at the Committee when I visited, I would have had the opportunity to tell him how he has acted on CO2, because Mr Gallagher has become known as the Christopher Columbus from Fermanagh. According to his mileage claim for last year, he has twice circumnavigated the world in pursuit of his Assembly duties. It is a wonder that he has any time to come here; he must spend most of his time in the car.
Tommy Gallagher MLA
During that time, he has generated more than 20 tons of carbon; he is the carbon king of this Assembly. There is a perfectly good express bus from Enniskillen to Belfast, and I will give him the timetable for it, if he wants it. Had he used that bus and acted on C02, he would have generated only 6·84 tonnes of carbon and could have reduced his carbon footprint by 60%. Did he do it? Not on your life, because acting on CO2 is for someone else, not for Mr Gallagher.”
It was a joke in bad taste, not least because to some, it would have sounded like an allegation of financial impropriety. Not surprisingly, Mr. Gallagher did not find it very funny. He said this in response.
“I know that he does not visit the west very often and may not know the geography very well, but I do not live in Enniskillen. In fact, for me to drive to Enniskillen to get the express bus that he referred to would take 45 minutes.”
It is not just Mr. Wilson’s knowledge of geography which is open to question. So also his knowledge of history. Christopher Columbus did not circumnavigate the World. The first circumnavigator of the World in a ship was Juan Sebastián Elcano. Perhaps it is also worth pointing out that wind power was used to transport their ships. We already knew, of course, that history is not a hot topic for the DUP, particularly natural history.
Back to the more serious point about wind power. Yesterday, the Draft Renewables Obligation Order (Northern Ireland) 2009, introduced by the ETI Minister, Arlene Foster was approved by the assembly. I wont comment on the order itself. Of much more importance was what Mrs. Foster said regarding the overall strategy for increased green power. She said this
“Renewable energy is a vital part of the Department’s strategy to tackle the two major challenges of ensuring a secure supply of energy for Northern Ireland and combating climate change. As Northern Ireland’s main mechanism for encouraging new renewable electricity generation, it is crucial that NIRO is as effective as possible, and it has been successful so far. When NIRO was introduced in 2005, just under 3% of electricity produced in Northern Ireland was renewable. Today, 7% of electricity produced and consumed in Northern Ireland is renewable, which is a higher percentage than ever before.
However, NIRO must deliver even more. I will soon consult on a new strategic energy framework that will contain proposals to set higher targets for renewable electricity, which is vital in securing Northern Ireland’s energy supply and combating climate change.”
Mrs. Foster’s statement is very positive and laudible. Had it not been for Sammy Wilson’s antics, Mrs. Foster’s statement would have attracted more attention from the press. Sammy Wilson is a liability to the DUP not only because it is so hard to take him seriously. He also creates fog around some of the good work being carried out by his party colleagues in the Executive.
Filed under: Arlene Foster, Assembly, Climate change, Conservative Party Policy, DUP, Energy, Environment, Northern ireland, Northern Ireland politics, Sammy Wilson, SDLP | Tagged: Arlene Foster, Assembly, Climate change, Conservative Party Policy, DUP, Economy, Energy, Environment, Northern ireland, Northern Ireland politics, Sammy Wilson, SDLP, Stormont, Tommy Gallagher, Tommy Gallagher MLA | Leave a Comment »