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Bord na Móna

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Bord na Móna

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Environment\Bord na Móna, issues relating to

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Deputy Brian Stanley

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Snippet Contents:

I thank the Acting Chairman. I acknowledge that he was also present at yesterday's meeting. The unions asked me to call that meeting last week. I believe it was very fruitful. We are facing a dire situation in respect of Bord na Móna. There are huge problems and it is facing a perfect storm. Workers are uncertain. They are not sure whether they will have jobs in two or three weeks' time, let alone in two or three months. Senior management has said that seismic changes will take place. This will have a very significant effect right across the midlands, particularly in Laois and Offaly. As the previous speaker said, the public service obligation, PSO, for the two peat-burning stations at Shannonbridge and Lough Ree will end in December. There are 3 million tonnes of fuel on the bog. I am advised that no price per tonne has been agreed with the ESB for that fuel. An Bord Pleanála has refused permission for co-fuelling at Shannonbridge. The licence for that ends in December 2020. No judicial review of that decision has been sought. We raised this issue with the Minister on 30 July, when we met him in Tullamore. The future of the briquette factory in Derrinlough is also threatened because it needs modernisation and also faces threats arising from carbon tax increases and smokeless fuel bans. With regard to the horticulture sector, Coolnamona and Kilberry are hanging by a thread. Peat is stockpiled on the bogs; I saw it again last Sunday. The decision by the British retailer, B&Q, to refuse compost partially composed of peat also poses a threat. Workers in Laois and south Kildare cannot be thrown on the scrapheap either.
What is needed is €30 million from the climate action fund to secure jobs and to commence the rehabilitation of bogs. This needs to be done and we need a proper plan for each bog. As part of a just transition, we need to finance the voluntary severance fund because we have workers who have no work. We need investment in alternative employment and training and upskilling in new industries. We also need to protect reasonable conditions of employment and to underpin the company's pension scheme. This is very important because there are almost more pensioners than workers with Bord na Móna because of the historical context in which Bord na Móna employed multiples - many thousands more - of what it does now. Time is of the essence in this regard.