Unionist warns over impact of diesel and petrol car ban on Northern Ireland
A ban on new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040 as part of efforts to tackle air pollution could prove disastrous for Northern Ireland's energy supply, the Ulster Unionists have warned.
Yesterday the Government unveiled its court-mandated plans to meet European Union limits on harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution - much of which comes from road transport, particularly diesel vehicles - after a long-running legal battle.
Much of the focus was on plans to end the sale of all conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040 to help tackle air pollution and climate change emissions.
However, Ulster Unionist economy spokesman Alan Chambers MLA said that the announcement by Environment Secretary Michael Gove would have major implications for electricity and energy policy in the province.
In April the NI Affairs Committee at Westminster reported that we will need more energy than can be supplied in 2021, prompting fears of an energy crisis here.
Mr Chambers said: "In the Assembly last year the UUP flagged up the looming crisis in the security of electricity supply in Northern Ireland. This was downplayed by the then DUP/Sinn Fein Executive, but our position was vindicated just a couple of months ago by a House of Commons inquiry and report which stated that in present circumstances, Northern Ireland will go into an electricity generating deficit in 2021.
"Clearly, as we have said, there needs to be substantial investment in the electricity grid in Northern Ireland and decisions need to be taken on local electricity generation to secure supply into the future.
"However, at the moment all we have at Stormont is an energy policy vacuum and no Executive to provide and implement a coherent energy policy.
"Decisions need to be taken now to ensure that we can keep the lights on after 2021, never mind gear up to the massive challenge of supplying the potential boom in electric vehicles in the decades to come."
The Institution of Civil Engineers welcomed the plan. Northern Ireland regional director Richard Kirk (left) said: "Today's announcement is a positive step forward for public health, but we urgently need to deliver the infrastructure that will lessen emissions over the coming decades."