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07/11/2019 12:00:00 AM


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Bruton, Richard

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Topical Issues

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Bord na Móna

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Bord na Móna

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Environment

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issues relating to

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Bord na Móna

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Environment\Bord na Móna, issues relating to

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Senator


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

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

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Richard Bruton

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Snippet Contents:

I thank the Deputies for raising this issue. I understand the concern expressed locally. It is an appalling shock for workers to receive notice that they have been put on protective notice as a result of decisions made. As the Deputies know, last month the ESB shut down the Lough Ree power generating station to carry out planned maintenance. The generating station was due to return to service last weekend, but the decision was taken on Friday, 5 July, to defer this for up to a three-month period in order to address environmental and legal issues. As a result, Lough Ree power generating station does not require peat supplies from Bord na Móna. This has had an immediate and adverse knock-on effect on Bord na Móna which has been left with no choice but to cease all operations at the Mount Dillon bog and place the 72 permanent fuIl-time employees and 76 seasonal employees on protective notice. The 148 impacted on staff will remain on a temporary unpaid lay-off from Thursday, 18 July, until Bord na Móna is informed by the ESB that Lough Ree power generating station will return to normal operations. This is expected to take a period of between four and 12 weeks
Bord na Móna fully acknowledges the impact the decision will have on employees, their families and the wider community. The company has arranged a meeting tomorrow morning with the group of unions to work through the process and review all options. I am sure some of the questions raised about stocks will be answered at that meeting. Bord na Móna has committed to ensuring a range of supports will be available for the affected employees. All relevant State supports will also be made available to the workers impacted on by the announcement.
The situation has arisen from an issue with the integrated pollution control licence issued to Lough Ree power generating station. In 2018 the ESB applied to the EPA for a licence review for the station. A key facet of the application relates to amending the conditions imposed by the EPA in 2013 on the cooling water discharged by the station. The ESB has sought the amendment as monitoring of the river profile has shown that the station cannot comply with the new conditions during the summer months when river levels are lower. I understand that because it is a full licence review the EPA has had to have full consultations, which has meant that the application has taken some time to process. The EPA is considering the application and has requested a time extension of a further three months for its deliberations. I understand that last year, on foot of emissions in the summer of 2018, legal proceedings were issued against ESB in respect of the operation of the plant. It is in that context that the ESB has made the decision to keep Lough Ree power generating station shut down to avoid leaving the company open to the risk of further prosecutions over the operation of the plant. The ESB has its responsibilities, but I am nonetheless monitoring the situation closely. The EPA is an independent body that must make its decisions based on the processes set out in law.