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File photo of peat excavation Shutterstock/longtaildog
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Bord na Móna power plant to remain open despite environmental concerns

Hundreds of jobs are safe, but concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of the Co Offaly plant.

BORD NA MÓNA has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanála to continue operating a power station in Co Offaly until 2023.

Edenderry Power Ltd (EPL), a subsidiary of Bord na Móna, operates the plant, which is co-fired with peat and biomass.

Bord na Móna had sought an extension of the power station’s operation to 2030.

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, welcomed the news.

“Edenderry Power is a valuable national asset from the perspective of national energy security, sustainability and regional employment.

“This decision provides the mechanism for the transition from peat generated energy to green energy. The success of Edenderry Power is essential for Irish energy sustainability plans,” Naughten said.

Siptu also welcomed the news, with organiser John Regan saying it “comes as a great relief to our several hundred members who work at Edenderry Power Ltd and related businesses, and their families”.

A failure to grant planning permission for the continued operation of the plant would have had a devastating effect on the economy of the midlands.

“This decision also has a major impact on the future of other power generation plants in the midlands as it accepts that the hybrid model of creating energy through the use of both peat and biomass, in operation in Edenderry, is in line with environmental protection legislation,” he said.

Environmental impact

An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment were among those who raised concerns about the environmental impact of the plant.

They said peat burning has not been shown to be sustainable both environmentally and economically, impacts water quality and is inconsistent with national EU and international policy.

In a statement released today, An Taisce said: “A previous decision granted by An Bord Pleanála was overturned by the High Court in 2015 on the grounds that the project did not comply with EU and National Environmental Impact Assessment law, because the effect of the continued peat extraction to fuel power the plant was not assessed.

The new An Bord Pleanála decision has failed to demonstrate how it assessed the environmental impact of the peat extraction area.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change in many parts of the world and we need to start now to move away from carbon-based fuels. Burning peat produces more C02 than coal and has the secondary effect of digging up the most significant store of greenhouse gases in the country.”

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