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Snippet Contents:

I assure Deputy Troy that the EPA has independent powers and, in the context of a full licence review of this nature, it is required to conduct a full environmental impact assessment, EIA. That is required. It is also required to have public consultation. The EPA, therefore, is meeting the obligations of its governing legislation. It is not for me to interfere in how it conducts that business. I will convey to all of the parties involved the urgency concerning this issue to which Deputies have referred. It is, however, a responsibility of each body to meet its obligations. That includes the obligations to meet the conditions of an integrated pollution control licence. I am conscious that the ESB is being prosecuted for its failures in that respect. This issue arose last summer. That is the backdrop to this issue.
I will seek some more information for the Deputies regarding the tonnages involved. Turning to the just transition, I recognise that is going to be a challenge for some time. We have to ensure that we support workers who are facing change. That means supporting them in retraining and in making an exit if they decide to cease work in this area. We must also develop new opportunities. To be fair to Bord na Móna, it has been exemplary in seeking to develop opportunities in a decarbonising world. It has sought to open up new generation capacity in the renewables sector and it is also examining the waste management and resource recovery sectors. That sector is one where the company can develop opportunities. It is also looking at aquaculture and various horticultural projects.
It is clear that the regional enterprise strategies are also targeting supports to those very opportunities because there is a recognition of the need to develop those opportunities. There will also be support from the urban, rural, regional enterprise and climate action funds in response to proposals coming forward from regions adversely affected in respect of assisting with viable projects. That is the correct way to proceed. As the Deputies know, I have sought at EU level to have peat included in the same category as coal. The EU has set up technical support for regions seeking to transit out of coal and that are impacted by that transition. I am proceeding on all of those fronts to develop effective polices to support workers affected by the impact of the change that is coming. I assure the Deputies that there is no sinister agenda on my part. We have to make changes, as the Deputies have recognised. We are seeking to do that in an orderly way and to support people where they are particularly exposed to the impact of the changes that are coming.