A government move to recompense Longford County Council over the impending loss of income from Lanesboro power station has been greeted universally by local politicians
A government decision to reimburse Longford County Council €1.4m in lost earnings stemming from the impending closure of Lanesboro power station next month has been described as a “vital” move in safeguarding its financial future.
“As Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, I have seen at first hand the great work of our local authorities up and down the country,” he said.
“This has especially been the case during Covid-19, when we have seen our local authorities lead the Community Call initiative and provide vital services to citizens.”
The Mullingar based accountant said the breakthrough had come following recent talks with Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath.
“Minister O’Brien and I have been working with Minister McGrath in recent weeks to secure this funding and I have no doubt that the funding in question will make a huge difference and will support the delivery of key services for the communities in both these counties,” he said.
A further €3.3m has been set aside for Offaly Council Council owing to the looming closure of Edenderry power station.
The ESB announced last November of its plans to close both peat-powered generating plants after failing to secure permission to switch them to biomass power stations.
Lanesboro produced 135 megawatts of power and Lough Ree Power produced 100 megawatts; together, they could power about 245,000 homes.
The two plants, which were commissioned in 2004, employ 80 people between them.
The current planning permissions for both sites expire at the end of this year.
The cessation of operations at both facilities has also garmered calls for greater investment to be set aside for the State's so-called Just Transition Fund.
The Government has allocated €6m to the midlands as part of the fund with the ESB vowing to make a further contribution of €5m.
Fianna Fail Longford Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty said the decision to indemnify Longford County Council for a facility, which in 2019 provided 15 per cent of the local authority’s rates income, was especially welcome.
“The Department recognises the extremely severe impact that the closure of these plants will have on income and is cognisant of the fact that even if there was no Covid-19 pandemic, it would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, to make up this income from the other ratepayers in the counties,” he said.
“It is also recognised that the plants are reliable ratepayers, which highlights their importance.”
They were soundings which were backed by Fine Gael Senator Micheal Carrigy, who warned that additional financial support would be needed into the future.
“We will be looking for further funding to cover the years 2022 up to 2027 when the station was originally due to close,” he said.