Offaly councillor requests further meeting with Bord na Mona over peat transition

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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Offaly councillor requests further meeting with Bord na Mona over peat transition

Offaly councillor requests further meeting with Bord na Mona over peat transition

Offaly councillor Eamon Dooley has called for the Chief Executive of Bord na Mona to meet members to discuss the transition forum established to help reallocate or upskill laid-off workers from the company.

Bord na Mona announced over 400 redundancies late last year after months of speculation. The losses are part of the company's strategy to decarbonise, accelerating moves away from its traditional peat business into renewables, resource recovery and new sustainable businesses.

Speaking at the June meeting of Offaly County Council on Monday, June 17, Fianna Fail councillor Eamon Dooley said the Chief Executive should "come again to talk with us about their plans."

"It will be a year since he was last here in September this year and we need to know exactly where we're going with regards job losses."

It's widely accepted that Bord na Mona's decarbonisation will result in further job losses.

Cllr Dooley said: "We can manage what we need to once we know where we stand."

Chief Executive of OCC, Anna Maire Delaney, said an update had been received from the Department of Communications and that each municipal district would be briefed on it in due course.

She also said a number of visits should take place with councillors going to see the various agriculture and diversification projects being undertaken by Bord na Mona on its landbank in the county, including the growing of medicinal herbs in Mount Lucas. 

Announcing redundancies last year, Chief Executive Tom Donnellan said, “Decarbonisation is the biggest challenge facing this planet. For Bord na Móna it presents both a serious challenge and a national opportunity. By accelerating the move away from peat into renewable energy, resource recovery and new businesses we are supporting national policy and seizing the opportunity presented by decarbonisation. Standing still is not an option for Bord na Móna."

"We are embarking on a transition phase now which will see us become a leading provider of renewable energy on the Island of Ireland by 2026, a leader in high-value recycling and provider of a range of new low carbon goods and services. Allied to all of this, a key focus of our decarbonisation plan is ensuring that Bord na Móna remains a very significant employer in the Midlands of Ireland for the decades to come," he added.

Bord na Mona have also indicated that their decarbonisation plan has the potential to create 400-500 jobs in the Midlands in the medium term. They have also brought forward their deadline to cease peat production from 2030 to 2028, saying that 75% of energy generated by the company will be renewable by 2020, up from 10% in 2010.

Their levels of peat production continue to fall sharply, dropping from 6.5 million tonnes in 2013 to two million by 2020.