Update on Bord na Mona situation
Today, along with other local TDs I had a meeting with the Bord na Mona group of unions where I outlined the work that I have been doing on the issue of job protection for staff over the last number of weeks.
I’m attaching what I outlined to the unions below.
On foot of today’s discussion all the local TDs are to redouble efforts to secure the €30m funding which would provide short term security to staff https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/09/29/government-must-immediately-release-e30m-in-funds-for-bog-rehabilitation-naughten/
And in tandem with that we would take directly to Minister Bruton the urgent request from staff that he meet with the Chief Executive of both the ESB & Bord na Mona as soon as feasible to clarify the future intentions for both West Offaly and Lough Ree Power stations.
I will provide an update on any progress.
Outline of work by Denis Naughten over the last 7 weeks to secure employment in the midlands.
My focus has been to secure employment for Bord na Mona staff both in the short term for seasonal & full time staff and also in the longer term sustainable jobs for the Midlands & West of Ireland.
Below is a selection of statements which I have issued but in tandem with that I have been engaging bilaterally with Bord na Mona, ESB and Minister Bruton.
At the end of July when I met with Minister Bruton in Tullamore I presented him with a detailed submission on job retention & job creation in the Midlands & West:
I’m attaching below a copy of the Dail reply which I received from Minister Bruton on foot of this submission, but I have yet to receive a detailed reply.
I also wrote to the Taoiseach seeking emergency funds of €30m and on foot of that request and the Taoiseach’s response, I have now sought an update from Minister Bruton on the delivery of this funding: https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/09/29/government-must-immediately-release-e30m-in-funds-for-bog-rehabilitation-naughten/
I have also been engaging with the ESB and the company has now confirmed that 1) its reopening Lough Ree Power and 2) likely to submit a new planning application to An Bord Pleanala: (https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/09/20/naughten-welcomes-recommencement-of-electricity-generation-at-lanesboro/)
And I have been addressing the licencing issue for Lough Ree Power up with the EPA both in July and again in September: https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/09/10/naughten-seeks-prompt-decision-from-epa-on-lanesboro-licence/
I’ve also highlighted this issue on the floor of Dail Eireann in July looking for a €130m fund to be put in place to assist workers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg8KFIgNkSs&list=UUQxf_PEYpRFvmQ5PpisnJhg&index=17
And again earlier this month https://youtu.be/1hnUx-Pwfe0
I have also been in communication with the EU Commission and as you know the decision has now been taken to include the ‘Midland Peat Region’ in the EU’s Platform for Coal regions. It is hoped that as part of an agreement on a new EU budget funding of up to €5bn will be made available to such regions
I have participated in the community ‘Think Tank’ which took place in St Marys Hall, Lanesboro on alternative job opportunities for the catchment of the power stations and I have been engaging with a number of businesses and local community groups on potential job opportunities across Roscommon, East Galway, Longford & Westmeath.
And I have been in communication with Mr. Willie Noone on behalf of the Group of Unions and local employees in Bord na Mona & the ESB.
Dáil Éireann Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
178. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on a submission (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37874/19]
As the Deputy is aware Bord na Móna has been an integral part of the commercial and social development of the Midlands for decades, creating significant employment in the region. The company provides approximately 1,000 direct jobs at present, which in turn supports at least another 1,000 indirect jobs. In its strategy to exit peat, Bord na Móna envisages the development and scaling up of new business opportunities to ensure the future commercial viability of the company and enable it to continue to fulfil its mandate to be an employer of scale in the Midlands. This strategy is aimed at developing a transition from peat to sustainable new businesses which utilise the vast landbank over the period to 2028. ESB is also fully committed to the process to lead decarbonisation in Ireland.
On 23 JulyAn Bord Pleanála refused ESB planning permission to continue operating West Offaly Power station beyond the end of 2020. ESB’s application sought planning permission for the plant to co-fire peat and biomass out to the end of 2027. ESB are currently evaluating An Bord Pleanála’s decision. ESB have also submitted to Longford County Council a planning application to continue operating Lough Ree Power station beyond the end of 2020. A decision by Longford County Council is expected shortly.
Following this decision my Department and I are intensively assessing the options to ensure a just transition, if an earlier exit from peat than planned is required.
On 31 JulyI met with the Bord na Mona Board and worker directors, and with Oireachtas Midlands representatives, the Midlands regional transition team, the regional enterprise plan team, and the regional skills fora team. I am scheduled to meet with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions this week.
Several strands are being considered in the context of the Government’s response:
– Bord na Mona diversification
– Accelerated programme of bog restoration by Bord na Mona
– An area based retrofitting initiative
– Other special initiatives for regional development
I have secured the inclusion of the Midlands in the Platform for Coal and Other Carbon-Intensive Regions in Transition, which supports regions affected by climate policy. Following a letter I wrote to Commissioner Canete in March seeking the inclusion of the Midlands Region under the Platform, the Commissioner confirmed in July that the region would be included.
Membership of the Platform enables the Midlands Region to avail of the support of a dedicated Country Team, comprised of Commission experts, to assist with the development of strategies and projects for the region, focusing in particular on the employment challenges faced by workers affected by decarbonisation. The Team will also assist in identifying appropriate EU funding opportunities for the Midlands. The meetings of the Platform also enable the exchange of knowledge and ideas between carbon-intensive regions.A preliminary meeting of this Team with officials from relevant Departments and other stakeholders is planned to take place in the middle of October with a view to the Country Team coming to Ireland in November. The already established Midlands Regional Transition Team, led by Offaly County Council, will play a central role in this process as it evolves.
An interdepartmental group led by Department of An Taoiseach has been established to develop a just transition plan for the Midlands. Clearly this work cuts across a number of Government Departments, including my own Department, Public Expenditure and Reform, Business, Employment and Innovation, Rural and Community Development, and Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
I will respond formally to the Deputy’s submission in the coming days.
Selection of recent statements:
Government must immediately release €30m in funds for bog rehabilitation –Naughten
Naughten welcomes Taoiseach’s support for rehabilitation plans for local bogs
Minister has no official responsibility to answer questions on Bord na Mona job threat: https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/09/17/minister-has-no-official-responsibility-to-answer-questions-on-bord-na-mona-job-threat/
ESB must provide clarity to workers on Lanesboro licence conditions –https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/08/13/esb-must-provide-clarity-to-workers-on-lanesboro-licence-conditions-naughten/
Bord na Móna must fast track rehabilitation plans for bogs – https://denisnaughten.ie/2019/07/26/bord-na-mona-must-fast-track-rehabilitation-plans-for-bogs-naughten/