Launch of Bio Regions Action Plan
Irish environmentalist and television personality Duncan Stewart officially launched an action plan promoting the bioenergy sector in the Westmeath region, on July 12th at the Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar. Hosting the event was Joe Potter, CEO of Westmeath Community Development which produced the plan in association with Patrick Daly who is a sustainable energy consultant on the BioRegions project.
Commenting afterwards Mr Stewart said “The Bio Energy Action Plan launched by Westmeath Community Development through its LEADER initiative, is strategically critical to the future prospects of the 80,000 citizens of Westmeath. This bottom-up initiative for local rural communities, providing new opportunities and empowering ways for people to collaborate, in harnessing their local green energy resources. It is very compelling, realistic, positive, evidence-based and enabling for communities to act. “
‘BioRegions’ is a three year inter-European project, funded by the European Commission under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, promoting the development of ‘bioenergy regions’ across Europe, which are regions where a significant portion of the energy demand is met by sustainable bioenergy sources. Westmeath Community Development is the Irish project partner and is the Local Development Company for County Westmeath.
Speaking at the launch Joe Potter, CEO of Westmeath Community Development said ‘This Action Plan has been adopted by the board of Westmeath Community Development and is seen as a prelude to more proactive engagement in developing this sector and the wider issue of sustainable energy, given the relationship to job creation and other rural development objectives. We are delighted with the commitment of our stakeholders and we would like to extend an invitation to further organisations to come on board.’
Studies throughout Europe have shown significant economic benefits from improved energy efficiency and renewables with a number of reports highlighting positive economic and jobs impacts from the development of the bioenergy sector. A recent Irish study indicated the potential for over 3,600 new permanent jobs in the Bioenergy sector, 1.5 billion direct investment in the sector and 8,300 work years during construction and installation if Ireland were to achieve its Bioenergy targets alone.
“With Ireland’s very difficult economic circumstances and even greater uncertainties facing our young generation, this initiative is now timely for farmers, foresters, small green businesses and householder. They can be motivated to embrace this by taking real actions in substituting expensive oil, coal and gas imports, with local, more cost affective and zero carbon emitting bio-energy fuels. Besides our economic doom and gloom, we are also very exposed to even greater risks and threats over the coming years. We face daunting challenges with Climate Change, peak oil and energy security,” said Mr Stewart.