26 Jun 2022

ESB under fire over moves to level power station in Lanesboro

Hot water discharge concerns prompt ESB to suspend operations at Lough Ree Power Plant in Lanesboro ificant’ for long term viability of Longford ESB and Bord na Móna jobs

Lough Ree Power Plant, Lanesboro.

ESB bosses are coming under heightened pressure to re-examine its plans to bulldoze its Lanesboro peat powered generating station.

Longford Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty rounded on the semi-State's decision to demolish a facility which ceased production after almost seven decades in operation.

“I am disappointed at ESB's decision,” said the Lanesboro native on Monday.

Mr Flaherty said there was an obligation on the organisation to enter into talks with the local public, insisting Bord na Móna were not entitled to simply “cut and run” from the process either.

“I don't think matters have been entirely exhausted by Bord na Móna and while it (demolition) might be in the best interests of the ESB, it's not in the best interests of the local community,” he said.

They were sentiments which were backed up at local representative level.

Cllr Gerald Farrell said there was an onus on the firm to supplement the Just Transition Fund after ESB confirmed it had contributed €5m to the scheme last week.

“It's not before time that they (ESB) have decided to open their purse," said the Fine Gael local representative.

The Longford county councillor's remarks come hot on the heels of last week's announcement by ESB that it would pressing ahead with plans to bulldoze both stations after conceding "no viable solution was found" to repurpose them.

The company said research studies carried out at both Lanesboro and Shannonbridge had uncovered the possibility of underpinning its move towards more sustainable forms of energy consumption.

“ESB can confirm that, following a comprehensive feasibility study in recent months, both our sites at Shannonbridge and Lanesboro have the potential for providing energy services which would facilitate the growth in renewable generation,” outlined a statement.

“In this context, ESB is currently developing planning applications for both station sites as renewable energy centres, in anticipation of future competitive tenders to be held by EirGrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).”

The proposed technology includes synchronous condensers and energy storage capabilities at both locations. Detailed environmental assessments will be carried out in support of those applications.

ESB chiefs said should these applications be successful, the firm said it remained focused on develop both sites “within the appropriate regulatory, environmental and planning timelines.”

Cllr Farrell said news of the impending demolition of the Lanesboro plant was a "shame" and implored ESB officials to examine other, possible uses for the site subject to planning guidelines.

"Given that there has been a grid connection there for the last 60 to 70 years, I really want to see that every effort is made to attract future energy industry to the area and that it be very much focused on that site," he contended.

His Independent colleague and Lanesboro counterpart Cllr Mark Casey welcomed details concerning ESB's seven figure contribution to the Just Transition Fund.

He did, however, caution against any immediate moves to level the Lanesboro plant, suggesting the facility's tower could be possibly “repurposed” as a potential viewing tower to attract tourism.

“The feasibility studies that are being done, let's see what comes out of them,” he stated.

“We want to make sure we are not knocking it (station) too quickly and it's important that every avenue is exhausted before this is done.”

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