'Decarbonisation of Road Transport in Northern Ireland': Committee Report

Part of Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:00 pm on 29th November 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 4:00 pm, 29th November 2021

I thank the Member for his remarks. He could have just stopped at "planning". We do not need to talk about green hydrogen because we have real, significant issues with our planning system across Northern Ireland. It is an impediment to getting our economy going again, and it needs to be looked at urgently.

Green hydrogen gives us a great opportunity. We have talked an awful lot about the decarbonisation of our whole network, but one of the most significant things that we could do is use Belfast and Larne ports as centres for hydrogen bunkering for shipping. In the Baltic, we have seen a push towards zero-emission shipping. We should push for the same thing across the Irish Sea. We should use Belfast and Larne as hubs to do that. We should also incentivise the shipping industry to move to the use of hydrogen to do it. While we are at it, Northern Ireland is uniquely placed to be a centre for sustainable aviation fuel not just for the domestic market but for the transatlantic market. That would give us the opportunity to be market leaders and to be leaders as we push towards decarbonisation.

I think that everybody in the Assembly agrees that the most important piece that we need to get to is to have a fit-for-purpose EV charging network across Northern Ireland. However, that needs to be part of a major move towards the decarbonisation of what we have. We have opportunities here. We see what is happening across the rest of our nation. We should grasp those opportunities. Sir Peter Hendy talks in his report about having the ability to tap into funding and resources. We should do that as well. We should not allow financial transactions capital (FTC) to go back. We should use that £66 million. We should hold the likes of ESB to account to make sure that they deliver what they are supposed to. We have to make difficult decisions. Yes, we will have to go for charging and the rest of it. Anybody who has driven on the motorway network in the rest of our nation and has pulled in and seen 20 or 30 Tesla or other charging points knows that it is doable. It can be done. We have to do it.

Minister, you have the commitment of the Ulster Unionist Party. We will be behind you when you make those changes. All that we need is the courage to go ahead and do it. Rather than talking about it, let us do it.