Fianna Fáil’s Ned O’Sullivan said wind power is turning the Irish landscape into a 'forest of ugly windmills'
It’s time for Ireland to go nuclear instead of opting for “ugly wind farms”, a Senator insists.
Fianna Fáil’s Ned O’Sullivan’s comments in favour of nuclear energy will alarm his party’s allies in Government, the Green Party.
Calling for a debate on ‘clear’ nuclear power, Senator O’Sullivan says: “Over-reliance on wind power is turning our beautiful rural landscape into a forest of ugly windmills.”
He also insists it was a mistake to protest against the building of a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in Co. Wexford half-a-century ago.
“Public opinion put paid to Des O’Malley’s courageous project at Carnsore. I am one of the Woodstock generation but little did we know that when we stopped Carnsore, we would get Moneypoint,” he said.
That conventional coal-fired plant, commissioned in 1985, was a policy mistake because of what is now known about global warming and climate change.
The Electricity Regulation Act 1999 prohibits the production of Nuclear Energy in Ireland, but not its consumption, Mr O’Sullivan notes.
“Since 2012 we are increasingly interconnected to the British grid so we are in fact importing energy from mixed sources, including nuclear,” the upper house is told.
“Resistance to nuclear energy is not, in my opinion, anything like as strong as it was in the 1960s,” he added.
“We are all committed to the target of 70pc renewable energy by 2030, but how many of us believe it can be attained? On any given day last week, over 60pc of our electricity was
generated from gas.
“We are now at the end of the Kinsale gas field, we are ruling out further offshore exploration and we have turned our backs on imported LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals.
“My own county of Kerry has seen an inexplicable rush to facilitate planning for even bigger and uglier wind farms, some of them in built-up, suburban areas.”
Senator O’Sullivan maintains that nuclear power is now safe and becoming amazingly more efficient in the generation of cheap energy for all.
“For many people, nuclear power creates fear, understandable fear,” he said. “People think of Chernobyl and they think of nuclear weapons.
“But we are now in the era of smaller, modular nuclear reactors.
“They are safer, they create less waste, some models can regenerate power from their own waste, and they are less costly and quicker to build.”
He said there were “a number of Stone Age nuclear reactors just a couple of miles from Dublin across the Irish Sea” but this was not the proper point of comparison.
“It is very likely that most EU countries will be utilising smaller nuclear modules in the next decade,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“Science is also now on the cusp of making nuclear fusion a reality. Much safer and more efficient than fission, this is the future, and the first prototype is currently under construction in southern France.”
The Citizens’ Assembly on climate and the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee had both “inexplicably failed to properly address the option of nuclear generation,” he declared.
“To me it offers a real transformation in how we can achieve climate change by adding to what we can achieve by renewables, and by making zero emissions a real prospect in our time.”
A debate is called for, and should be held as early as possible in the Oireachtas in the Autumn, insists Senator O’Sullivan, who generated massive media coverage three years ago when he warned that something needed to be done about aggressive seagulls in Dublin.
Quoting US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in support of his argument for nuclear power, he said: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”