The recent Government decision to ban smoky coal yesterday yielded a 200-jobs industry for the port of Foynes.
CPL Industries, Europe’s leading manufacturer and wholesaler of smokeless solid fuel products for the domestic heating market, gave the go-ahead for a plant costing €22m for manufacturing low-smoke coal in the Co Limerick port.
The company plans to spend a further €15m on transforming waste and biomass into raw materials for low-smoke coal.
As part of this process, thousands of tons of olive stones discarded from olive oil plants on the Mediterranean will be shipped into Foynes for use as an ingredient in smokeless fuel.
This investment will create a further 60 jobs, of which 40 will be at Foynes, bringing total employment levels at the company in Ireland to just over 200 by 2018.
Announcing the new industry in Foynes, Minister for Environment, Community, and Local Government Alan Kelly said Foynes now has the potential to become a low-smoke fuel hub for Northern Europe.
“We announced our plans for this investment in 2013 and made no secret since of our dissatisfaction and frustration over the lack of progress on implementing carbon tax relief (for products with minimum biomass content) as well as delays in a Smokeless Ireland designation and planning difficulties,” said CPL chief executive officer Tim Minett.
“We had even begun to look at other options for the facility outside of Ireland, such were our concerns.”
However, he said that with the “arduous planning process now complete” and the carbon tax derogation announced in last year’s budget due to be brought into legislation shortly, the Smokeless Ireland designation was the missing piece in the jigsaw.
The announcement by Mr Kelly last month has now put that in place.
“This was initially a North-South initiative but I compliment Minister Kelly and his Department for having the foresight to press ahead and declare a ban on smoky coal products within two years,” said Mr Minett.
“Together with the carbon tax initiative introduced in by Minister Noonan, who has been equally supportive of and determined to secure this project, this has given us the market certainty that we needed.”
Pat Keating, chief executive of Shannon Foynes Port Company said that the CPL investment was “a game changer”.
“Foynes and the wider estuary can become an international hub for a range of activities,” he said.
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