Friday, May 29, 2015

We have more than just Wind Energy Guidelines to worry about

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has, today (Friday), said that there is a lot more than just the long awaited publication of new Wind Energy Guidelines to worry about.

Referring to the ongoing and growing concerns around when the new Wind Energy Guidelines will be published, Doherty said that “it is absolutely unacceptable that we do not know under which Guidelines the upcoming oral hearing, which is scheduled to take place on the 16th of June, will be adjudicated under. We are being lead through this whole process blind folded and in utter legal limbo.

“Not only this, but what has not been discussed in the media or by politicians who are beating the same drum is the issue of licencing.”

Doherty revealed that “the licence under which Element Power are making their application for planning permission, which could see the erection of 46 industrial wind turbines in Co. Meath, is in the name of a different company, Oriel Windfarm Limited. So, why apply to build a windfarm in Meath, without a valid licence to do so in Meath?

“I am at odds as to why Element Power hasn’t yet changed the name on this licence. Additionally, the licence is for the cultivation of offshore wind, which is obviously not binding for this development.

“I believe that Element Power not transferring the name on the licence for the purposes and intent of the development of Emlagh is nothing less than a manipulative move to keep their options open.”

The Meath East TD explained that “Should planning permission be granted for this intrusive development, Element Power will be well within their rights to sell, resulting in mammoth profit for those behind Element.

“Changes can only be once made to this licence; in other words, should the licence be updated to specify Element Power as its owner for the development of Emlagh Windfarm, they will not be able to sell at a future date. Moreover, should Element be refused planning on this occasion, Element Power and Oriel Windfarm Ltd will be left with a licence that cannot be exercised anywhere else”.

Doherty concluded by stating that “this is not about strategic industrial development for Ireland, rather it is about Element Power making profit, which in itself is not illegal.

“Well I don't believe they should be able to profit off the back of our community and Meath's natural landscape without our cooperation."

Doherty Welcomes Long Awaited Installation of Traffic Lights at Yellow Furze National School

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has, today (Friday) welcomed the installation of the long awaited pedestrian traffic lights at Yellow Furze National School.

The Meath East TD said today that “we have waited a long time for these traffic lights to be installed. I have been working very closely with Yellow Furze National School staff and its Board of Management, specifically Principal Noeleen Rooney, Christy Farrell (Chair of the BOM) and Des Mooney, but to name a few, to ensure that our children can safely cross the road to and from school.”

“We have been calling for road safety measures to be installed in Yellow Furze for some time. For several years I have been receiving calls from parents who knew all too well the daily dangers and risks when crossing the busy road outside of the school.

“I was thrilled when in January of this year I saw the installation of the foundation and stands for the traffic lights. We had to wait a little bit longer for the signal lights themselves to be erected as they were ordered in from the United Kingdom.”

Doherty concluded in say that “It is a welcomed sigh of relief for us all to know that children, parents and other pedestrians can now cross the road safely. I have also requested for double-yellow lines to be painted at the entrance of the school, as parked cars continue to block the line of sight for both pedestrians and cars using the road.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Doherty calls for clarity on wind farm planning guidelines

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has called on the Minister for the Environment to make a clear and unambiguous statement on the new wind guidelines that are going to cabinet shortly, and specifically how they will impact live active applications.

"We have been looking for clarity on this now for months and it is not forthcoming. While I appreciate that this is a highly complex issue and the Minister is currently awaiting clarity from the Attorney General, we have an oral hearing on the 16th June with regard to planning application PA0038 which proposes to develop a wind farm containing 46 wind turbines in Emlagh Windfarm in Co. Meath.

"We are now in legal limbo.

"Local community groups and private citizens in Co. Meath are putting up thousands of their own money, and money which they have worked hard to fundraise, into preparing for the oral hearing into a wind farm in North Co. Meath. It is simply not good enough that we find ourselves in the position of not knowing under which guidelines this, and other planning applications will be adjudicated under.

"Added to these complications, we have a legal challenge in the High Courts to the applications SID status which could also effect the outcome of the An Bord Pleanala hearings."

"It would be prudent for the Minister to make a clear statement now on his expectations in this regard, or pause all current applications until there is legal clarity. Without such clarity we are wasting the hard raised money of objectors in a process which is far from clear."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Doherty Commends Young Electorate on Referendum Turnout

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has, today (Monday) commended the young electorate on their turnout for last week’s Marriage Referendum.

Deputy Doherty stated “The turnout for this referendum was special in many ways; a turnout of more than 60 per cent is absolutely superb given that in the Seanad referendum our constituency turned out approximately 30 per cent.

“Albeit low considering the average turnout at a general election, one can only feel optimistic given the high numbers of young people voting, and many for the very first time.”

Doherty continued “almost 66,000 people registered to vote for the first time for this referendum, which is absolutely fantastic. While I see the increase in figures in our electoral register encouraging, we must ask ourselves, with the exception to those just turned 18, why these young people were not already registered to vote? The answer to this question I believe is manifold.

“Perhaps our young electorate feel somewhat isolated from our political system and therefore do not engage. In recent years the young electorate, and by young I mean 18-30 year olds, are apathetic towards our political system, but what this referendum tells us, a lethargic and uninterested young electorate could not be further from the truth.”

Doherty stated “One of the reasons which I believe the turnout and the result of this referendum ought to be accredited to is that people were asked to come out and vote on civil rights rather than political choice. And in this respect, the Yes campaign, its supporters, canvassers and public figures made an emotional and personal plea to the people of Ireland to vote in a certain way. Likewise, when I was out on the campaign trail, I was speaking to the electorate as a mother of four, not just as a TD who happened to support this campaign.

“We must not be complacent and take it as a given that these young people will turnout to vote in the next General Election which is due to take place within the next year.”

The Meath East TD continued by saying that “it is now essential that the Irish electorate, particularly the young cohort of this electorate, remain engaged and interested in the political sphere and continue with this new found level of engagement and participation in our democratic process.

“Young Irish people travelled from far and near to exercise their vote in this referendum, be it from Australia to Dublin, from Cork to Sneem, 5 thousand miles or 5 miles, I am truly hopeful that our young electorate see the impact which their vote can have on our democratic system.”

To conclude, Doherty said that “it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of all public representatives, to ensure that our young electorate remain engaged in our democratic system. This referendum has been a massive eye opener and learning experience for me both personally and as a TD. I certainly will do everything in my power to ensure that the lessons learned will not be forgotten in the next big social issue headline. As with our recently amended constitution, we must adapt the way in which we do business and communicate with all members of the public, in a way which is reflective and representative of those who we are communicating with.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

€202,550 for Group Water and Sewage Schemes in Meath

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty has said that €202,550 worth of funding for group water and sewage schemes in Meath will improve water quality and upgrade local water conservation works.

“These allocations are aimed at improving water quality in group water schemes, and at upgrading water conservation works in group water scheme distribution networks. The programme also provides funding for group sewerage schemes.

“The news was announced by the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government today (Wednesday). The Rural Water Programme benefits from funding under the European Regional Development Fund.

“The Government has also accepted a recommendation from the National Rural Water Services Committee to investigate whether some elements of proposed new group schemes would merit a special contribution to help address funding shortfalls.

“We are supporting the Group Water sector as an important element of the water industry in Ireland and to continued investment in the sector to sustain and improve quality, standards and performance.”

Friday, May 08, 2015

Time for an patients’ advocacy organisation

Fine Gael TD for Meath East Regina Doherty has today (Friday) called for the establishment of an independent patient advocacy organisation. Deputy Doherty was speaking about the Health Information and Quality Authority recommendations in the wake of the report into the maternity unit at Portlaoise Hospital.

“Patient advocacy services act on behalf of the patient or patient’s family when dealing with hospitals and healthcare services. They represent the views of those seeking information of making complaints when required.  “After the shocking report into the maternity unit at Portlaoise Hospital, we need to establish an independent advocacy organisation as a matter of urgency to represent the patients’ voice and the patients’ views. The HSE must listen more to what patients are saying and such an organisation would provide a structure and support for this.  “The health service is there to service patients and in order to do that it has to listen.”