Thursday 14 November 2019

ESB workers to lose jobs as peat plant closures announced

ESB Lough Ree power station
ESB Lough Ree power station

Caroline O’Doherty

Around 80 ESB workers at two peat burning plants in the midlands are to lose their jobs following a decision by the company to close the plants at the end of next year.

The closure of the West Offaly and Lough Ree plants is also set to accelerate job losses at Bord na Mona which has been supplying fuel to the operations.

ESB had sought planning permission to convert the West Offaly plant from peat to biomass as part of the move away from fossil fuels but the plan was rejected by An Bord Pleanála.

Planning permission for both plants to operate in their current form expires in December 2020.

In a statement, ESB said there was now “no viable business model” for the plants beyond that date. The company said it was a “matter of significant regret”.

“ESB very much appreciates the commitment of our staff and the support of the broader community over many decades during which ESB, in strong collaboration with Bord na Móna, played a key role in the development of the economy in the midlands,” it said.

“ESB will now begin the process of engaging with our staff and stakeholders to prepare for an orderly closure of the stations.

“The Government has recently announced the creation of a €6m Just Transition Fund for the midlands. In light of the closure of Lough Ree Power and West Offaly Power, ESB will make an additional contribution of €5m to this fund.”

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