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Order of Business

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I support my colleague, Senator Lawlor, in asking the Minister to come to debate renewable energy and our obligations in that regard. He and I have raised on several occasions the many wonderful sheds around the country that could be covered with solar panels and photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. A lot of work has been done in Germany in using land with elevated platforms for solar panels, while still getting 80% productivity from the land.
In three days' time it will be a year since the legislation on plain packaging passed. As a wash-out period of one year was allowed, from this Sunday on, all tobacco products must be sold in plain packaging, as designated by the Government. I thank all those who supported the Bill and those who supported various non-governmental organisations and the Government in standing up to big tobacco and its attempt to bully our sovereign state into submission. Every year, 6,000 people lose their lives to tobacco. That is 6,000 families rent asunder, loved ones lost, and further countless hundreds of thousands who suffer ill health because of this poison that we sell. I commend all those who were involved.
I request that we ask the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to come to debate and outline his plans for the new land agency and lay out how it can help us address housing policy. Reverting to the solar energy issue, the selfsame Minister needs to bring in regulations as a number of local authorities are using the lack of national guidelines as a reason for refusing planning applications from farmers who want to install solar panels. I know of one farmer in Fingal who had to go to An Bord Pleanála to get planning permission. This is a spurious argument. The Minister needs to make a statement on it and give clarity to local authorities.