'Simply not good enough': ESB to close to two power stations in the midlands, 90 workers to be affected

'Simply not good enough': ESB to close to two power stations in the midlands, 90 workers to be affected

Additional reporting by Digital Desk staff

ESB has announced it is closing two power stations in the midlands. The company is currently meeting with employees from West Offaly and Longford's Lough Ree power stations to inform them of the plan for the closure of the stations.

The government recently announced the creation of a €6 million Just Transition Fund for the midlands, and the ESB has announced that it will make an additional contribution of €5 million to the fund.

The ESB says it's a matter of significant regret, and it very much appreciates the commitment of staff. Up to 90 workers are believed to be affected.

The ESB said it submitted an application to An Bord Pleanála in 2018 seeking planning permission to transition West Offaly Power from peat to biomass over a number of years starting in 2020.

However, the planning application was rejected by An Bord Pleanála in July of this year. The ESB said:

"Since then, ESB has undertaken a review of the options for both West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power stations post 2020 in the context of the requirements of the single electricity market (SEM).

CEO of ESB Pat O'Doherty said: “It is a matter of deep regret and deep sadness, the ESB has been on these sites for seven decades, we have worked really hard to create viable businesses, but sadly for planning, economic and climate reasons we haven't been able to get that to work.

“This is indeed a blow to the midlands, the ESB has been anchored in the midlands and will continue to be anchored in the midlands, we will have in excess of 300 staff in the networks business and in other businesses in the midlands and we will be investing tens of millions in the midlands, we will still be a very big part of the community.

“There's no single issue, it's a multiplicity of complex issues - there's economic issues, there's planning issues, and indeed climate, climate is a big part of this. Peat is fossil fuel, it is carbon emitting and carbon and climate is one of the issues one of the reasons, but there are economic and planning reasons also.”

Asked why ESB hadn't appealed the An Bord Pleanála decision, he said:

We've been working over the last two years to try and make viable propositions for burning peat and biomass. Our planning application to An Bord Pleanála for West Offaly Power was rejected, we thought long and hard, we looked very hard at trying to make viable propositions out of both with Longford Co Council and An Bord Pleanála for Lanesboro and Shannonbridge, but we have not been able to do that.

"We decided, given the nature and extent of the judgment by An Bord Pleanála that there was nothing we could do. We decided not to appeal or to judicially review it. The net reduction in carbon emission because of closure of two plants will be 1.25m to 1.5m tonnes over a year.

"The reduction in carbon emission is very welcome, but it is very, very tough day for the staff and families of our workers and Bord na Mona workers and the communities of Shannonbridge and Lanesboro. That is not lost on us. We briefed our staff this morning and there's a sombre enough mood now. We will work with our staff and unions to do this over the course of the next year.”

Willie Noone from SIPTU Bord na Mona group of unions said: “The amount of money that is being put in is only a drop in the ocean, we believe that the announcement of a commissioner is welcome, however it is like closing the gate when the cattle are gone up the field. The reality of it is that hundreds of workers have already left, there's hundreds more going to go in the next two to three months.

“The imposition of a commissioner to divvy out funds to vulture businessmen is great for those businessmen, but it's no good for the workers of Bord na Mona. It's no good to the workers of ESB. These people are not going to gain at all. Other entities may gain, but not the workers. These people are going to be left by the wayside. It's simply not good enough.”

More on this topic

ESB power plants that are closing should never have been built - An TaisceESB power plants that are closing should never have been built - An Taisce

Kieran Mulvey appointed Just Transition Commissioner for closure of peat-fired power stationsKieran Mulvey appointed Just Transition Commissioner for closure of peat-fired power stations

Retired ESB staff to protest over pension freezeRetired ESB staff to protest over pension freeze

Cork and Portlaoise to get first ESB smart metresCork and Portlaoise to get first ESB smart metres


More in this Section

Gardaí seize almost €1.5m of cocaine in DroghedaGardaí seize almost €1.5m of cocaine in Drogheda

President Higgins to attend special screening of climate change film at conference in CorkPresident Higgins to attend special screening of climate change film at conference in Cork

Woman stored bag which contained €59k of drugsWoman stored bag which contained €59k of drugs

Woman stole over €40k from smartphone firm to repay other theftsWoman stole over €40k from smartphone firm to repay other thefts


Lifestyle

The Cosmetify Index reveals the cosmetics companies that are generating the most buzz online – and Dubai-based Huda Kattan has the top spot.Huda Beauty tops the 10 ‘most popular’ beauty brands this year

Read the script of Kya deLongchamps’ kitchen-sink drama to set the scene to make an informed choice when selecting this home essentialTake the plunge: Read this checklist before you splash out on your new kitchen sink

WHAT do aerospace engineering and baking have in common? A lot, says scientist and Bake-Off finalist Andrew Smyth, one of the presenters of the family show Baking in Space.The Shape I'm In: Andrew Smyth - Bake-Off finalist

It would be foolish to discount all evergreen plants when seeking autumn variety, says Peter Dowdall.Showing their true colours: Don't discount all evergreen plants when seeking autumn variety

More From The Irish Examiner