Examiner named for biomass plant builder

The High Court has confirmed the appointment of an examiner to the firm constructing a biomass-fuelled power plant in Co Mayo.

The plant located in Killala is designed to generate electricity and produce biomass woodchips, and was due to become operational in 2017. 

Work stopped on the site in July due to funding shortages and the developer, Mayo Renewable Power, (MRP), is now insolvent and sought the protection of the courts.

Last month, the High Court appointed insolvency practitioner Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton as the interim examiner to MRP. Yesterday, the matter returned before Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who confirmed Mr McAteer as examiner to the company. There were no objections to his appointment. 

The move gives the company the protection of the court and will allow the examiner take steps including securing additional investment so the plant can be completed.

Barrister Kelley Smith, for the examiner, told the court Mr McAteer had already held discussions with a number of interested parties, and that the talks have been “positive”.

During the currency of the examinership process, Mr McAteer will attempt to put together a scheme of arrangement with creditors, which, if approved by the High Court, would allow the company to continue to trade as a going concern. 

The proposed 42.5 megawatt biomass-fuelled plant, which is designed to generate both electricity and biomass woodchips used as a solid fuel, was 50% complete when work ceased.

James Doherty SC, for the company, said the plant was a significant and long-planned undertaking and had created 350 jobs for the construction phase. 

When operational the plant would create 130 jobs and has the potential to create 1,000 jobs in the Irish biomass market.

The plant was initially to be funded partly by its parent company, the US-registered Rockland Mayo LLC, for some €80m. 

The remainder was to come from a syndicate of lenders including Ulster Bank, AIB, and Barclay’s Bank who were to provide €118m.

However, those funds were not drawn down after a problem emerged with a supplier. The parent did increase its funding by an additional €10m, but new finance from lenders is required.

The company is also facing a damages claim for $60m brought against it and others in the US courts. John Sisk & Son, which has given its qualified support for the examinership process, is the main contractor on the site.


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