Bord na Móna announce €1.6 billion investment plan

Longford Leader Reporter

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Lanesboro power station closure should not be excuse for Bord na Móna to force through compulsory Longford layoffs

Bord na Mona

The announcement includes details of an agreement with ESB to supply peat to their two Midlands power stations through to the end of 2020, while there will be 200 jobs for employees transitioning from peat-related operations in the enhanced peatland rehabilitation programme. 

Bord na Móna have unveiled plans for €1.6billion investment in renewable energy development, new business projects, waste recycling and resource recovery in conjunction with an accelerated and enhanced peatland rehabilitation programme.

They state that almost 100 new direct jobs and over 150 indirect jobs will be created in the development of renewable energy assets and new recycling operations by 2023, while 200 jobs for employees transitioning from peat-related operations will be included in the enhanced peatland rehabilitation programme. The aim is that over 80% of company revenues and employment will be derived from green businesses by 2025.

Last year, the company adopted the Brown to Green Strategy and the first phase of that plan saw the company position itself to become a key enabler of Ireland’s climate action policies.

The Chief Executive of Bord na Móna, Tom Donnellan, has outlined how the next phase will support employees to transition away from peat-based activities into opportunities in Bord na Móna’s green businesses and peatland rehabilitation activities. He emphasised that Bord na Móna is at the forefront of climate action in Ireland while presenting more details of the company’s decarbonisation plans.

He stated,“Bord na Móna is in the business of climate action. We are uniquely placed to help Ireland realise its climate action goals and are today outlining how we will achieve a fair and just transition for employees and communities in the Midlands.

"We launched our Brown to Green strategy last year with a mission to transition the company away from our traditional peat-based activities towards a green, low-carbon company that will play a leadership role in building Ireland’s green economy. The first phase of our plan restructured the company, paid down our debt and put in place a sound financial base to fund this transformation and our green investment programme."

Also read: 'This investment secures a more sustainable future for Bord na Móna'

This next phase of the plan will see a €1.6 billion development programme that will benefit the Midlands and is strongly aligned to Government policies and comprises of:

• Investments of over €1.5 billion in renewable energy development to support Ireland’s 70% RES-E target and create up to 150 indirect construction jobs – the first part of this plan will be delivered in November 2019 when the €180m Oweninny wind farm becomes fully operational.
• Investments of over €60m in waste recycling and resource recovery to create approximately 100 new jobs;
• Investment of over €20m in new green business projects that have the potential to create between 150 and 300 new jobs over the next five years.

They say that by 2025, 80% of employees and revenue will be derived from green, low carbon and sustainable businesses. This phase of the plan will also see a significant part of the workforce migrate into peatland rehabilitation and other opportunities as the volume of peat burned in the ESB power stations reduces and other peat related activities are scaled back.

"I can confirm we have concluded an agreement with ESB to supply peat to their two Midlands power stations through to the end of 2020." said Tom Donnellan.

Mr Donnellan also confirmed that Bord na Mona are in discussion with the Department about accelerating a programme of enhanced rehabilitation of peatlands that will see potential redeployment positions for approximately 200 employees, in a bid to provide opportunities for those impacted by the reduction in peat harvesting.

Mr Donnellan stated, "This will be the biggest peatland rehabilitation programme ever undertaken, is of international importance and will yield significant benefits in terms of biodiversity, carbon emissions mitigation and carbon sequestration."

Continuing he said, "We will also create opportunities in our waste recycling businesses and our new green business projects. And as we redeploy people into new roles we will continue with the existing voluntary redundancy scheme, on a limited basis, to accommodate those people who wish to pursue new careers or educational opportunities. We will also provide a comprehensive training and employee supports for all involved in this transition.

"We very much welcome the just transition announcements in Budget 2020 by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe; Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment’ Richard Bruton; Minister of State, Sean Canney; and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan.

"The support of Minister Bruton and the Government is crucial to ensuring we achieve a fair and equitable result for all. We look forward to working closely with the Just Transition Commissioner to be appointed by the Minister to work in a constructive way to deal with the challenges posed by decarbonisation. We will also continue our existing work with the Midlands Regional Transition Team, the Group of Unions, the Joint Industrial Relations Council (established under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission) and all stakeholders as we implement these plans.

"With today’s announcement, I believe we have identified a pathway that involves us leading the way on climate action whilst demonstrating change can be achieved in a fair and just way.” he concluded. 

More details of Bord na Móna’s accelerated and enhanced bog rehabilitation programme will be released in the coming months.