Demolition of Shannonbridge Power Station is looking likely despite opposition in Offaly

Derek Fanning

Reporter:

Derek Fanning

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Shannonbridge power station closed down in December and there are fears the state-of-the-art multi-million euro facility will be demolished.

The demolition of Shannonbridge Power Station is looking likely, in spite of considerable opposition to the move at a local level.

Local councillors are fearful that the ESB has made up its mind to proceed with the destruction of the multi-million Euro, state of the art facility regardless of what anyone thinks.

Cllr John Clendennen told the April meeting of Birr Municipal District that the councillors and other interested parties have been waiting a long time for a positive response from the ESB but have so far heard nothing. "During the summer," commented Cllr Clendennen, "a number of councillors had a zoom meeting with the ESB, expressing our concern about the matter. The sound and visual quality of that zoom meeting was unfortunately very poor but we did receive the message loud and clear that the ESB took on board our concerns and would engage with us in a positive manner, and not simply press ahead with the demolition regardless of us. Unfortunately, since then we have heard nothing from them and several months have gone by.

"In the meantime we heard recently of an announcement of a €5 billion plan for an offshore wind farm at Moneypoint, County Clare, as part of the ESB's nationwide decarbonisation policy. This raises the question why ignore our state of the art €240 million 16 year old facility and invest their funds elsewhere? We feel like we are being unfairly overlooked and poorly treated once again in Offaly."

Cllr Eamon Dooley agreed with Cllr Clendennen. He said councillors during their summer Zoom meeting asked the ESB to extend the date of the decommissioning of the power station, but have yet received no response.

The councillors said it would be a waste of taxpayers' money to demolish Shannonbridge. They called for the carrying out of a feasibility study to look at alternative uses for the station and for a process of consultation with the local communities and local stakeholders.

"The ESB's mind seems to be made up," said Cllr Clendennen. "It seems they've decided to turn their backs on us. We are going to be left behind. This is far from acceptable. We need a better attitude from them. We need a positive plan for the future. We think the station could become a centre of excellence."

Cllr John Leahy agreed. "We are being left behind as usual," he said. "We once had a positive working relationship with the ESB, but that seems to be no longer the case."

Cllr Clendennen pointed out that there are a number of possible uses for the station. "It could have a number of uses, all operating at the same time. It could be a platform for connectivity to the Shannon via watersports. It could be a museum, focussing on the history of fuel production in Ireland. It could be a work hub; a tourism attraction; a renewable energy source."

Cllr Dooley called for a greater response from the general public. "So far everyone has been too quiet."