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Bord na Móna

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Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton)

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Snippet Contents:

I thank the Deputies for raising this matter. I recognise the concern that all Deputies have expressed about the potential impact of this on affected families. Bord na Móna is a commercial State company with a mandate to develop the midlands region, and I believe it is taking the appropriate steps now, in a timely way, to set out a strategy that takes into account its obligation to operate in a decarbonised economy. It has recognised this need, and is taking the necessary steps to ensure there will be employment opportunities and that it will continue to be a driver of economic development in the midlands. It has recognised the obligation to decarbonise. The decisions it is taking mean that it will reduce its carbon footprint by more than 90% by 2030. It is a very major step. It also recognises the inevitability of the decisions it had to make.
Bord na Móna has set out in its strategic plan the opportunities it believes it can develop that will provide secure employment opportunities with good prospects for the future. Those opportunities lie in the areas that Deputy Stanley and others have mentioned and include expanding its interest in renewables, expanding its activities in the area of resource recovery and identifying new export growth markets where it can use its very significant assets and strengths to develop new trading opportunities that will deliver employment. I can confirm to Deputy Cowen that the ESB will be submitting a planning application; it is expected in the next couple of weeks.
The other issue raised by Deputies was support for workers who are directly affected. I can absolutely assure the Deputies that not only will Bord na Móna be putting in place its own programme, which it has worked out with its trade unions and has used before, to support workers, to assess their skill base and to support them in finding new opportunities, but all the machinery of the State, whether through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the education and training boards, ETBs, or re-skilling opportunities will be made available to the workers. I assure the Deputies of that.
On the issue of the redundancy terms and the need for voluntary exits, Bord na Móna has signalled that it intends that this will be a voluntary exit programme. It is consulting with the representatives of the workers about the terms of that programme; it will of course require approval from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. In terms of ensuring that the State does everything possible to support the building of the future economy in the midlands, I assure the Deputies that Bord na Móna will be working with the implementation committee of the midlands regional action plan for jobs.