Department Plan Lacks Clear Targets Says Assembly Committee

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 20 October 2011

Reference: ETI 03/11/12

At its meeting today the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment criticised the Department for Enterprise Trade & Investment for developing an action plan that could achieve very little. The plan, created to implement the Strategic Energy Framework, was criticised for “lacking in focus”.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chair, Alban Maginness MLA said: “The Strategic Energy Framework [1] is the Government’s main policy driver for energy up to 2020. It sets out the broad strategic direction for energy policy up to 2020. The plan presented to us today is supposed to help achieve this.

“However, what we saw today was a plan lacking in focus, lacking in targets and lacking in clear outcomes. Considering the Committee criticised the Department for the same thing in January following the inquiry into barriers to developing renewable energy, this is particularly disappointing.

“As the plan currently stands it could be described as being descriptive of aims rather than a prescriptive plan with clear outcomes. If allowed to remain like this the Department could potentially meet all of the objectives of the Strategic Energy Framework whilst achieving very little in the process.

“Specific targets are needed for energy pricing, security of supply, uptake of renewable energy, economic opportunities from renewable energy and for energy efficiency. These are the outcomes the plan needs to deliver. There is no point in the Department stating, for example, that ‘energy efficiency must be maximised’ without a clear indication of what exactly it means by this and how it will be achieved.”

Deputy Chair of the Committee, Daithí McKay added: “It is the role of Department to produce a clear, dynamic, long-term plan for what it believes can be achieved. It is our role as a Committee to challenge the Department if we do not believe this is what it has done. The Department needs to put such a plan in place for the Strategic Energy Framework if it is to be implemented properly.”  

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