Thursday 14 November 2019

Bord na Móna bids to continue operating power plant

Bord Na Mona Edenderry Power Station in Co Offaly
Bord Na Mona Edenderry Power Station in Co Offaly

Paul Melia and Tim Healy

Bord na Móna has sought planning permission to continue operating a peat and biomass-fired power plant until 2030, despite the High Court ruling that existing permission allowing it to continue in operation should be overturned.

Details of the new application for the Edenderry Power Plant in Co Offaly, which was lodged in August, emerged after An Taisce yesterday secured a court order overturning a planning permission for the continued operation of the plant, which employs 180 people.

The permission was quashed by Mr Justice Michael White on foot of his ruling earlier this month about the adequacy of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out in relation to the plant at Clonbollogue.

In a judgment on October 10, Mr Justice White found there were possible indirect effects on the environment by using peat from designated bogs to power the station. He ruled the assessment of the environmental impact of the continued operation of plant was too narrow.

He found that the relevant legislation around the EIA Directive had been misinterpreted, but granted a stay to April 30 next on the order to overturn permission.

He also listed the matter for mention on February 9 next year to allow for the prospect of a possible application to extend the stay beyond April. Some 65pc of the costs of the proceedings were awarded to An Taisce against An Bord Pleanála.

Trade union Unite called on the company to seek a further stay on the ruling, while Siptu said the High Court's decision must not result in any compulsory redundancies.

The Green Party welcomed the decision, saying the ruling gave the State a chance to "turn away from this most polluting form of power generation for good".

Edenderry was first developed as a peat-fired power plant in 1998 and was purchased by Bord na Móna from German utility E.ON in 2006. It was due to close in December this year. In 2014, it consumed 670,000 tonnes of peat source from Bord na Móna-owned bogs, and 212,000 tonnes of biomass.

In 2013, the company sought permission to continue operating the plant for another 10 years. An Taisce's concerns were raised during this planning application, where it said the environmental impact of using peat to produce electricity had not been properly assessed.

"This case underlines the crucial role An Taisce plays in the planning system," it said.

Edenderry Power Ltd, controlled by Bord na Móna, is currently seeking permission to continue operating the plant until 2030, It is understood that a new EIA attempts to address concerns about use of peat to power the plant.

Irish Independent

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