Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

DUP call for green investment 'not at odds with Sammy Wilson'

The DUP's Enterprise Minister has called for investment in renewable energy technologies to help address climate change.

Arlene Foster's intervention followed the decision of Environment Minister colleague Sammy Wilson to veto a government climate change advertisement as insidious propaganda.

The advertisements urged people to reduce energy consumption and cut carbon dioxide output.

Mrs Foster said: "Now is the right time to encourage investment in renewable technologies for the future.

"My department will be consulting shortly on a new Strategic Energy Framework.

"This will include a focus on renewable technologies and how they can help deliver security and diversity of energy supply, address climate change and create local employment opportunities."

She was responding to an Assembly written question.

Mr Wilson argued the adverts were giving people the impression that by turning off the standby light on their TV they could save the world from melting glaciers and being submerged in 40ft of water.

But he received a vote of no confidence from the Stormont Environment Committee last week and a petition was established by the Green Party calling on him to quit.

Ms Foster said there was "huge potential" for the creation of green jobs in Northern Ireland and pointed to the tidal power installation in Strangford Lough, Co Down, as an example.

She said her department was working with its partners to promote renewables.

"Invest NI is also developing a strategy to maximise the potential economic benefits of the Energy and Environmental sector targeted for completion by the end of 2009," she added.

The energy and environmental sector in Northern Ireland has experienced strong growth in recent years and Ms Foster said she was confident it will offer opportunities for business in the design, installation and manufacture of component parts.

An inter-departmental group has been established looking at opportunities for green jobs and developing skills.

A DUP spokesman said: "There is absolutely no contradiction between the two positions.

"The position of the party is that we are in favour of reducing emissions and creating green jobs."

Mr Wilson has compared himself to one of history's greatest thinkers who was unfairly vilified by the establishment.

Astronomer Galileo Galilei stood trial in Rome in 1633 over his correct assertion that the Earth revolved around the sun.

The minister said: "Galileo was a scientist who stood against the conventional wisdom of the time and was regarded as a heretic, they wanted to prosecute him.

"When you talk about scientific consensus you have to bear in mind that as things change, as people discover things, as ideas are found and new information comes to light then sometimes people are left looking very foolish."

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