Just Transition report ready to go to Government

"It's important that Bord na Mona not walk away from their responsibilities"

Gearoid Keegan

Reporter:

Gearoid Keegan

Just Transition report ready to go to Government

The peat-fired power station in Shannonbridge will be closed down

THE report from the Just Transition commissioner on the impact of the Bord na Mona and ESB wind-down is expected to be considered by the Government soon.

Offaly County Council was told on Monday that Kieran Mulvey's report has been completed and was expected to go to the cabinet last Friday week.

Anna Marie Delaney, chief executive with the council, said its consideration had been postponed, apparently because of the discussions on the Leaving Certificate.

Ms Delaney assured councillors she would revert to them as soon as she has the report.

Cllr Danny Owens called on Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton to publish the report and he said Bord na Mona also needed to publish their plan for bog rehabilitation.

Cllr Owens said it was the communities affected by the wind-down of Bord na Mona and the ESB he was most concerned about and he paraphrased a line from the Just Transition mission statement, “nobody will be left behind”.

The Fianna Fail councillor said he expected the “big money” to come from the European Union's Coal and Peat Transition Fund and stressed that there must be close cooperation between the communities and Bord na Mona on issues including bog rewetting, greenways and blueways.

The people in Kilcormac, Lough Boora, Ferbane, Shannonbridge and Shannon Harbour will “know best” what is needed and he highlighted the upgrading of the roads as another big issue.

“Bord na Mona have used the roads and did their work and contributed over the years... will Bord na Mona be making a contribution to the County Council to do the work?” he asked.

Another issue facing the council in the future when the bogs are rehabilitated is fire risk because the council will have to put out bog fires, as had already happened.

“It's important that Bord na Mona not walk away from their responsibilities and ensure that the bogs are left in the best possible condition for future generations,” said Cllr Owens.

Cllr John Leahy said the council needed to see “in black and white” what the plans for Offaly are and how much compensation there would be.

The Independent councillor mentioned the jobs promised from bog rewetting as one issue, asking would they be workers being redeployed or would the positions be advertised.

He said Fine Gael had promised before the election that the public service obligation levy (which Bord na Mona say will fund rehabilitation) would be “delivered on by Europe”.

“Fine Gael have to come up to the mark,” he stated.

Cllr John Clendennen said there was a responsibility on Offaly County Council to examine what it can do to stimulate investment.

He cited the example of South Dublin County Council which had agreed the sale of 48 acres of land for €26m to a company which plans a €125m investment and 1,000 jobs.

The Fine Gael councillor reminded his colleagues that the Government's Midlands Regional Action Plan for Jobs highlighted film production as a potential area of opportunity in Offaly.

He said the council should look at Offaly's infrastructure across roads, water, communications and skilled labour.

“Then we could be potentially looking at a film studio investment,” he said.

Cllr Clendennen previously proposed that Shannonbridge power station could be used as a film production centre when it is vacated by the ESB.

The meeting was also told by Ms Delaney that the European Union will be hosting three webinars on the Coal Platform for Regions in Transition with the first scheduled for May 26.