Ian Lumley, An Taisce Advocacy Officer, says lessons need to be learned following the announcement of the ESB peat plant closures in Lanesboro, Co Longford and Shannonbridge Co Offaly.
He made the statement after the ESB confirmed that they will cease operations at their Lough Ree in Lanesboro and West Offaly power stations by the end of 2020.
Mr Lumley stated, "The announcement by ESB that the planning application to extend the operation of the Lough Ree, Co Longford, power station for peat burning to 2027, with progressive biomass timber import, is to be abandoned follows the refusal by An Bord Pleanala of the parallel application for the Offaly plant in July.
"This is most welcome in reducing Irish Greenhouse gas emissions and abandoning the unsustainable import of biomass from as far afield as Australia.
"However it creates a major employment loss in the Midlands, which needs a Just Transition response - for which European Investment Bank Funding can and should be rapidly mobilised.
"The development of these two peat plants by ESB with a Bord na Móna supply contract was a wasted State company investment which should never have happened. On top of this the electricity consumer was shackled with a Public Service Obligation (PSO) annual subsidy amounting to hundreds of millions over the lifetime of the plants.”
Mr Lumley says investment should instead be put elsewhere.
He said, "Investment should instead have been put into energy efficiency and demand reduction measures such as building insulation and accessible and electrified public transport. Such measures would have reduced Ireland’s fossil fuel import bill and carbon emissions, while enhancing local environments and community well-being.
"An Taisce had strongly advocated against the new peat plant investment and was the only organisation to appeal two applications to An Bord Pleanala. However permission was granted in 2004 for a 15 year period, which reflects no credit on the political and public service decision makers and professional consultants involved.
"The correct lessons must be learned from what was a wasted public investment, with an unnecessary and regressive subsidy burden."
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