Unions claim Bord na Móna's €1.2 billion renewable plan will do little for midland job fears

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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Green light for Foynes smokeless plant

Bord na Mona

The Bord na Móna (BNM) Group of Unions has stated that the announcement by the company that it intends to invest €1.2 billion in its solar, wind and biomass businesses will do nothing to allay the growing jobs crisis in the Midlands resulting from its decision to exit peat briquette production.

Bord na Móna announced the plan at the launch of their annual report in Dublin today, including provision for the extensive renewable energy plan.

“The process of change will be further accelerated as we implement our planned €1.2billion investment programme in the coming decade. We will see a considerable portion of this investment programme concentrated on developing new sources of renewable energy," Mike Quinn, Bord na Móna CEO said today.

"The development of new wind energy projects will continue on a strong expansionary track in the coming years. This will build on the success we have had this year following the commissioning of the Sliabh Bawn project with Coillte and the securing of new planning permissions for Cloncreen and Oweninny windfarms," he added.

BNM Group of Unions secretary and SIPTU Organiser, John Regan, said: “The BNM Group of Unions has noted the announcement by the company today. This will be a positive step and indicates the continued success of the company’s fuel businesses."

However, Regan also stated that, "the negative element of this major investment plan is that it provides no job security for BNM workers. Indeed, the Midlands will become an unemployment black spot in the coming years if BNM proceeds with its plan to exit peat production which will result in widespread job losses.”

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TEEU Regional Officer, Darren Erangey, added: “Several recent poor decisions by the Board have greatly concerned our members. These include its acquisition of a UK company, White Moss, at a cost of at least £25 million and the premature closure of the Littleton Briquette Factory in County Tipperary. The Board has also now stated that it is seeking €24.2 million in savings despite the current agreement entered into in good faith by our membership at the Workplace Relations Commission, which is to reach €7.2 million savings."

He continued: “These flawed decisions are damaging a company which remains highly profitable and competitive in all the diverse markets in which it operates.”

Unite official, Ed Thompson, said: “Our members are not prepared to sit back and allow poor decisions in the board room go on indefinitely, particularly when workers’ livelihoods and Midlands communities are being massively adversely impacted on. Decisions made in the board room have led to failure too many times, resulting in confidence in the leadership of the company being seriously questioned throughout the BNM Group.”            

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, has acknowledged a request by the BNM Group of Unions for an urgent meeting to discuss the threat to the future of the company and to its workers’ livelihoods resulting from the decisions of its board of management. This meeting is expected to take place in the coming days.

In their annual report, Bord na Móna revealed that 59% of their energy portfolio is now renewable, up 22.2% from 2016.