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Enda Kenny: UK needs to increase spending on renewable energy

THE United Kingdom needs to increase its investment in renewable energy, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today.

Mr Kenny met face-to-face with his British, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh counterparts during key talks today.

The British-Irish Council meets once per year, and today it was held in Cardiff Castle.

Key items on the agenda were kick-starting the economy, and Europe, as well as education.

During a press conference, Mr Kenny said energy and the environment would be the big topics that would need to be discussed in depth next time the home nations' political leaders got around the table.

He said: "The issue of energy will be a direct focus of the next British Irish Council.

"We believe there is great potential for renewable energy, particularly from onshore wind.

"There is a real possibility for the direct sale of renewable energy generated in Ireland to a British market.

"This is against a background of where we need to move on at European level.

"The Union is losing out in terms of real investment- where major energy costs are 300pc dearer than they are in the United States, which is moving to self-suffiency with enormous potential from the sale of shale gas.

"Between our two islands having these strategic partnerships, this is an area that has great potential."

Today's British Irish Council was the third time the body has met in Wales since it was set up as part of the Northern Ireland peace process in 1998.

It brings together ministers from the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, the Northern Irish executive, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man, as well as the Republic of Ireland.

Officials say its purpose is to promote positive and practical relationships between each nation.

Representatives of each government discussed the role of infrastructure in helping economic growth.

Wales's First Minister Carwyn Jones chaired today's talks, which saw Cardiff Castle heavily guarded by officers from South Wales Police.

He said: "A number of items were discussed today: the economy, as you might expect given the situation that exists around the world; early years policy, which the Welsh Government is taking a lead on; as well as youth unemployment.

"This summit is exceptionally important, as it provides a framework to discuss ideas and policy initiatives and to learn from each other."

PA Media