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Green activists win out in legal battle over Offaly peat-burning power plant

Enironmentalists are over the moon, unions not so much.

Endenderry electricity power station
Endenderry electricity power station
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 7. 06 pm

UNIONS HAVE HIT out at a High Court judgment overturning planning permission for the continued use of Edenderry power station, but they’re insisting jobs are secure.

Bord na Mona had previously been granted planning permission  by Offaly County Council to continue work at the Edenderry peat-power facility beyond 2015.

But today, environmental activists rejoiced as the controversial decision was quashed following a two year legal battle by An Taisce, signalling the end of peat burning at the site.

The High Court ruled that AnBord Pleanala’s assessment of the environmental impact of the continued operation of the planet was too narrow.

The decision puts 180 jobs at risk amid fears for the future of two other other Bordna Mona plants up for renewal in 2019.

SIPTU say that the decision by the court is “concerning” but not that there’s a second planning application that they expect to be approved.

“The success of this planning application should secure all the jobs in Edenderry Power and its surrounding operations,” said SIPTU’s John Regan.

“However, if there is a rejection of this second application the position of the Bordna Móna Group of Unions remains that no compulsory redundancies will be accepted at the semi-state company. “

Judge Michael White granted a six-month stay on the order until April 2016 to allow time for AnBord Pleanála to decide on a new planning application involving a wider environmental impact assessment.

While criticising the ruling, Unite spokesman Colm Quinlan said that Bordna Móna should seek a further extension of the stay to allow for industrial talks to continue.

The High Court ruling announced today has exacerbated industrial tensions at a time when they were already heightened in view of last week’s Labour Court hearing,” he said.

“The overarching aim of the Group of Unions is to achieve agreement that any redundancies will be strictly voluntary. I am calling on Bord na Mona to immediately seek a stay on the High Court ruling beyond next April to make space for these very difficult negotiations to be brought to a successful conclusion.”

Today’s High Court decision was widely welcomed by environmental activists who’ve long campaigned against the use of the plant.

Brian Cowen stands down Green Party leader Eamon Ryan Source: PA WIRE

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said: “The High Court ruling gives us a chance to change tack and to turn away from this most polluting form of power generation for good. This is the most expensive form of electricity available to us. Burning peat is costing every household at least €70 a year, whether we like it or not.

“The High Court has put a stay on its order until April which means it will be up to the next Government to finally decide what to do. We need a proper debate about our energy future in the run up to the general election. The choice is between adopting a green plan based on promoting renewables and efficiency or else trying to burn our way into the future.

The workers in the plant affected will now be concerned about their future prospects. We believe there is a huge opportunity to better secure their jobs by turning Bord Na Mona into a leading ‘low carbon’ energy company.
- With reporting from Rónán Duffy

An Bord Pleanála showing “a failure in both scientific and legal competence” – An Taisce>

An Taisce granted leave to appeal peat burning at Edenderry power station>

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