05 Oct 2009
IPH responded to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland (DETI) consultation on a draft Strategic Energy Framework 2009.
The draft Framework set out the proposed priorities for Northern Ireland’s energy future over the next ten years or so and illustrates the key energy goals in term of competitiveness, security of energy supply, sustainablilty and infrastructure investment. It also proposes new and ambitious renewable electricity and renewable heat targets by 2020, which reflect the need for effected action against climate change and the need to address other policy goals in terms of security and sustainability of supply and costs.
Key points in the IPH submission included:
• IPH welcomes the recognition and action towards addressing fuel
poverty issues within the draft Framework. Low-income householders are
more likely to be reliant on carbon-intensive fuels and inefficient
heating systems, in particular a dependence on electricity-based
heating. Also, these households generally lack the substantial finances
necessary to retrofit their houses with more sustainable energy
solutions. From a health perspective there is a need to ensure there are
adequate and consistent all-island measurements for fuel poverty.
• IPH recommends that particular emphasis be placed on enhancing energy affordability for low-income and vulnerable households and call for this issue to be structured as a cross-cutting priority within each of the four main goals of the framework
• IPH recommends that commitments in relation to low-income and vulnerable households be more clearly stated in each area of the framework. There is a need to put in place specific provisions to ensure that lower income households benefit first and benefit most from the introduction of cost-efficient and sustainable energy, and that this be monitored over time.
• IPH welcomes the drive towards renewable energy in Northern Ireland to support the collective effort to address climate change. Renewable energy can provide alternatives to traditional sources of energy which can contribute to reducing Northern Ireland’s carbon footprint. Northern Ireland’s current energy sources such as the burning of oil, coal and natural gas can result in a number of emissions (sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides and other pollutants) which are deemed a risk to health (DEFRA, 2004). The Health Protection Agency has developed the ‘Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK in 2008’ which clearly outlines the number of health impacts associated with climate change (Health Protection Agency, 2008). These include floods, infectious and foodborne diseases and an increase in temperature change impacting on mortality levels. Any initiative to address climate change is to be welcomed.
• IPH calls for a greater consideration of health and health equity as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment.