As Minister Bruton, Bord Na Mona & the ESB are set to meet today, TD Denis Naughten, has called on Bord na Mona to fast track plans for the rehabilitation of the cut away bogs previously used for the harvesting of peat.
“In total Bord na Mona has a land holding of just under 200,000 acres across the country and while some of it can be considered for new commercial uses, such as the growing of herbs, other lands will naturally return to nature,” stated Denis Naughten.
“As a result, there is a considerable land bank where peat extraction has already ceased, which would naturally flood, and where work on rehabilitation can start, including the provision of recreational facilities such as walking and cycling trails.”
The decision has already been taken through Project Ireland 2040 to develop a 35,000 acre national wetland park on the Mount Dillon bogs in Counties Roscommon & Longford.
A further example of opening bog land for public access would be the cut away bogs outside the town of Ballinasloe which it is envisaged will form part of the Dublin/Galway Greenway.
Public access alone is already attracting over 50,000 visitors a year to Mount Lucas, Co. Offaly
“It was intended to carry out rehabilitation works on the bogs over a 15 year period and tie this in with the winding down of peat harvesting but with the decision by Bord na Mona to lay off staff as a result of the temporary closure of the power station in Lanesboro, and fears regarding the future of the power station in Shannonbridge after 2020, these plans must now be put into action immediately,” stated Denis Naughten.
“This revised timeline, and front loading of work that was to be carried out over that 15 year period, would provide security of employment of Bord na Mona staff at this very anxious time as well reducing peat oxidation and carbon loss on the bogs.
“It would also help to provide a window of opportunity to Bord na Mona and all of the State agencies to come forward with a revised economic development plan for the Midland counties which reflects the imminent threat to employment in the region.”