Consumers hammered as government bans domestic gas exploration say Rural Independents

The Rural Independent Group of TDs have described the cabinet decision to “plough ahead with new legislation, banning oil and gas exploration, as utterly counterproductive”, claiming it to be a “groundless decision lacking any rational, scientific or evidence-based scrutiny”.

The group warn of the impact on higher energy prices, with no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions overall, saying that fuel is simply being imported instead, and that families will face energy cost hikes.

Responding to the government decision to clear the way to legislate in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Amendment Bill, for banning new oil and gas exploration off Ireland’s coast, the Leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie McGrath said:

“Ireland’s energy supply is now at a double risk of being disconnected, due to Brexit and the government’s recent illogical decision to ban new exploration for oil and gas off Ireland’s coast, in some sort of dressed up attempt to fight climate change,” he said.

Deputy McGrath said that the decision puts Ireland’s future emergency disruption gas supply in jeopardy, given that the UK will no longer be bound by current EU obligations to provide solidarity supply.

“The government’s spin around existing exploration projects remaining is of little comfort, when we consider that the Kinsale Head gas field is at the end of its life, while the Corrib field is beyond the point of peak production. Their decision and policy mean that Irish families will experience further energy cost hikes. It will also mean that those imports will be counterproductive, as they will result in higher greenhouse gas emissions, due to the increase in distance from their source,” he claimed.

“This is a classic case of gross incompetence. The decision will have severe long-term consequences for consumers in Ireland and the country’s future energy needs,” said the Tipperary TD.

“It is utterly mindboggling that the government would make this decision, in the midst of a potential Brexit energy crisis and without having secured any alternative policy solutions. The further irony of the policy is that just over a year ago, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, stated at the UN Assembly (September 2019) that Ireland would end the practice of drilling for oil, based on recommendations from the independent Climate Change Advisory Council. Yet, at the same time, Varadkar pointed out that “exploration for natural gas should continue”, seeing it as a necessary transition fuel towards a greener future.”

“The banning of virtually all future hydrocarbon exploration means Ireland faces increased threats to energy supplies as Brexit cuts our links with Europe’s gas and electricity networks. In fact, Ireland is now no longer connected to the EU gas or electricity grids after the end of 2020. This means we are increasingly reliant on gas imports from the UK via the gas interconnectors”.

“Overall, this policy position will mean that we have little control over future prices, leaving consumers and all industrial users exposed to price hikes and volatility,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath. This week the cabinet has approved Climate Minister Eamon Ryan’s suggestion to add a provision to the Climate Action Bill which would ban all oil and gas exploration in Ireland.


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