Minister 'in urgent talks with Dublin' over post-Brexit energy fears in Northern Ireland
Business Secretary Greg Clark has held urgent talks with the Irish government amid fears the electricity supply in Northern Ireland could be hit by a no-deal Brexit, it has been reported.
Ministers fear complications because the electricity industry operates a single wholesale market across the island of Ireland, which is underpinned by European Union law.
Mr Clark is said to have been working on legal guarantees with officials in Dublin on an emergency agreement to make sure Northern Ireland, a net importer, is not left short of electricity.
But according to the Times, the Government wants to avoid publishing the “incendiary” back-up plans and has bought itself some extra time to come up with other ideas.
The plans for a worst-case scenario, including importing thousands of generators north of the border, will not be released with a trance of other documents this week.
A senior figure involved in the preparations told the paper the emergency plans were so extreme that Mr Clark had been instructed to find a way to avoid their publication.
“When we looked at this we found there weren’t enough readily available generators in the world for what would be needed,” they said.
However another Whitehall figure said: “Our position will be that we don’t have to prepare for the catastrophic outcome because it won’t happen.
“It would be in the overwhelming interests of both sides to sign the emergency agreement prepared in advance.”
The revelation comes as ministers prepare to release more than 80 “technical notices”, which are set to advise businesses and individuals on how to cope with Britain crashing out of the EU.
But according to reports, a number of the papers will be held back as plans are not finalised yet.
The report comes as tensions between France and the European Union ratchet up over a new "sea corridor" linking Ireland to mainland Europe after Brexit if Britain leaves without a deal.
The route, which comes as part of a bid to bypass UK customs controls, has angered French officials who say it favours Dutch and Belgian ports as the expense of ports in western France such as Le Havre, Cherbourg, Brest and Roscoff.
In a letter to the EU Commission, seen by Le Monde newspaper, French transport minister, Élisabeth Borne, said: "The geographical proximity between France and Ireland makes these obvious connections with the internal market."