28 May 2022

Lack of jobs in Longford ESB proposal ‘cannot be allowed to happen’

Lanesboro Power Station. Photo:Joe McDonagh.

ESB chiefs are pressing ahead with plans to demolish Lough Ree power plant

ESB has revealed that it intends to develop a huge battery energy storage facility in Longford on the site of the former Lough Ree power plant in Lanesboro which it intends to demolish.

In response to the planning permission submitted by ESB recently, local Lanesboro and Ballyleague notes correspondent Joe O’Brien expressed disappointment at the lack of jobs that would come with the plan.

“Looking at the Longford County Council website on the planning section I saw that ESB were seeking permission to demolish the power station and all buildings on the site,” he said.

“The skyline is about to change forever. We are now aware of the intentions of ESB as it was a great source of conversation since the last of the workers left over a year ago. The debate went on with many views on what was going to happen.

“We also note that ESB are proposing the development and operation of electricity grid services - namely a battery energy storage system (BESS) and a Synchronous Condenser (Sync Con) on the site of over 32 acres which is part of their total site.

“For a community that gave as much to ESB as they did to us it is really pitiful to see that there will be no jobs created with the new proposals nor will land become available to the community for any proposals that might help create jobs in the future,” Mr O’Brien continued.

“Having received a call from a former manager, it was confirmed to me that the batteries they are proposing are similar to 40ft containers on the site. I am led to believe that the Sync Con will most probably be the size of the stand in St. Faithleach’s.

“The proposed site developments can and will be serviced remotely and there will be just drive in to check on their workings.”
As sad as that may seem from ESB, Mr O’Brien added that it is “more pitiful” to see that the government “whose representatives were so vocal that the community would not suffer due to the closure of the power station and the downsizing of Bord na Mona” have remained “absolutely silent”.

“Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael leaders were met prior to the last election and were in support of replacement jobs for the area. The adage of ‘they would say anything to get elected’ is proving to be very true,” said Mr O’Brien.

“I can assure anyone reading this that the community is not idle but is very proactive with so many people putting forward proposals demonstrating the creative community we are and the jobs and vibrancy we want to see returning to the community and general area.

“What we need is political people and those of influence beginning to be active with and working in partnership with the local Collaboration Group.

“The group is not prepared to let the brain drain seep out of our community and see the area condemned to a black hole with no hope and no future. We deserved much better than that and we are prepared to work hard to help achieve it.”

In recent times Lanesboro Community College has been going from strength to strength topping with Leaving Cert results and college placements as well as a huge number qualifying as tradesmen of the highest standards, Mr O’Brien noted.

“The school continues to grow and develop in a most confident way with new classrooms being built such is the acknowledgement of the excellence at the school,” he said.

“It cannot be allowed to happen that all of the students, following their third level achievements and tradesmen qualifications who want to live and work in their own community cannot do so and have to move to faraway places. The fight to get jobs for the area will continue with great intensity than ever.

“We have an inordinate number of former residents and students that have gone on to be huge achievers in their own careers and a number of them have spoken of the opportunity to establish in their own community given the correct conditions.

“None of this can happen without the political support which to date is sadly lacking. A portion of the ESB site would also be a huge addition in our aim to attract employment.

“Tourism and accommodation are other features that are lacking in our community, and it is well recognised that we have to lift our game in this respect.

“There are many proposals currently being explored - none more exciting than the Feasibility Study for a Boardwalk that would link both Lanesboro and Ballyleague with a bridge over the ‘Cut.

“This proposal has the prospect of creating one of the most scenic and exciting tourist developments not only in both counties but in the country.

“It is also proposed that the Boardwalk be fully lit by hydropower, which is completely innovative for such a project, and it means it can be walked day and night.”

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