A leading energy lawyer here has called for an island regime to support renewable energy.
Richard Murphy of Pinsent Masons made the recommendation at the Northern Ireland Energy Forum held in Belfast on Sept 10. He said mirroring legislation from England & Wales had led to a scenario where the local industry could be left at a severe disadvantage.
Mr Murphy was referring to the plan by the Westminster Government to replace the current Renewables Obligation Scheme with a Contracts for Difference arrangement which will force Northern Ireland wind farm developers to compete against much bigger GB competitors for a limited pool of grant support.
He added: "In my view, the difficulty posed ....presents an opportunity to wholly re-think how we support the renewables industry. Northern Ireland was a relatively small voice in the debate over the future of the UK industry, but if we were to maximise our use of devolution and seek to capitalise on the Single Electricity Market with the Republic of Ireland, we could create an all-island mechanism much more fit for purpose.
Speaking before the crisis at Stormont deepened with the withdrawal of DUP ministers from the Executive, he pointed out that the intention of devolution was to pursue different policies when they were of benefit to the local region. For the future of our renewable energy sector the time had come, he said, to use it or lose it.