Planning sought for biomass vision at Offaly power station
Fianna Fáil TD for South Kildare, Fiona O’Loughlin has said the decision made by an Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for the redevelopment of an ESB power station to co-fuel the Shannonbride power station with biomass must be appealed.
Deputy O’Loughlin said the decision is another massive blow to Bord na Móna and ESB workers across Kildare and the midlands who have seen their livelihoods decimated.
She said, “We have known for a long time that Bord na Móna will be diversifying over the coming years, but there must be time to transition. You can’t shut up shop on an entire industry which has provided employment for successive generations without first putting in place tangible alternatives and safeguarding the local economy.
“The Government have been very lethargic in dealing with the matter. They dragged their heels on establishing a transition forum and the delay in their application for EU funding was nothing short of disgraceful. The existing carbon tax, which they use to prop up their balance sheet, is not reinvested into the areas impacted hardest.
“The workers and wider community in Kildare need reassurances from Bord Na Móna that plants such as Kilberry is remain open for years to come. At the end of the day, the speed at which plants are closing and jobs are being lost is completely disproportionate to any investment”.
“In a time of turmoil for Bord Na Móna, they must also look at ways of securing jobs now and into the future. One way would be to consider a Brownway, similar to the Blueway and Greenway except it will travel through Kildare’s bogs on the hundreds of miles of old railway line”, concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment has said it is disappointing that permission to redevelop the West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge has been refused.
Richard Bruton said the ESB will need to evaluate why this decision was taken and assess the implications.
Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Mr Bruton said it is still a priority of the Government to support Bord na Móna's plan to have an "orderly exit" from peat, and to provide alternative employment.
He said:"The ESB will have to look at this and see what the implications for the future are. I think it's premature to be drawing any conclusions. From the Government's point of view, we want to ensure that the strategy that Bord na Móna want to pursue - which is to have an orderly exit from peat and to create alternative employment - that remains the priority for Government."