Cowen calls for emergency decision on Bord na Mona harvesting
Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has said that the An Bord Peanála’s delay in making a decision on Bord na Móna’s planning application for peat harvesting poses another mortal blow to the midlands.
Deputy Cowen contacted Minister Bruton in relation to the delay and called on the Government to step in and use emergency powers to ensure that the peat harvesting application is granted by April 12th.
He explained, “Bord na Móna is in this situation as a result of the Government’s inaction and their abandonment of their own just transition plans. Bord na Móna are engaging in the decarbonisation process, they are participating in an orderly wind-down of peat harvesting in line with Government regulations and yet they are still being made jump through hoops to harvest a much-reduced quantity of peat.
“If An Bord Peanála continue with their refusal to make a decision until May then West Offaly and Edenderry Powerplants will stand idle and Derrinlough Briquette Factory, which has seen a 40% increase in output due to COVID19, will enter the 2020/21 winter season with zero inventory. This will have a massive knock-on effect for about 20,000 households who use peat briquettes, many of whom are considered to be in fuel poverty.
“In addition to impacting on the power stations and supply to the briquette factory, the commercial horticultural sector, which employs up to 4,000 people, is now at risk by virtue of licensing constraints. Commercial and household cutters are left in limbo too yet there doesn’t appear to be much recognition of the hardship being placed on people.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up a number of concerns in relation to the security of energy supply. As a critical function provider, Bord na Móna has carried out a security of supply assessment of its midlands operations and if the international fuel supply is interrupted we will have very little stocks to rely on.
“At a time when vast swathes of our workforce are being temporarily laid off, there needs to be certainty for the Bord na Móna employees, the individual and commercial turf cutters, the staff of the plants and thousands of other ancillary staff,” he concluded.