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File photo of a bog in Co Offaly. Eamonn Farrell/
Climate Change

Bord na Móna announces plan to redeploy 200 workers

The State-owned company has agreed to embark on a programme of rehabilitation of bogs in the midlands.

BORD NA MÓNA has announced redeployment opportunities for up to 200 workers, as it moves away from peat harvesting.

The State-owned company has agreed to embark on a programme of rehabilitation of bogs in the midlands. Up to 150 indirect construction jobs are also expected to be created.

Some 400 workers have already left the company through a voluntary redundancy scheme amid uncertainty about the future, and 150 to 180 others can now apply to the reopened scheme.

Bord na Móna announced in 2015 it would fully stop harvesting peat by 2030, and that it was increasing its rehabilitation and restoration of bogs.

Last year, it brought the end of peat forward to 2028, and announced there would be up to 430 job losses as a result of its “decarbonisation plan”.

In order to transition smoothly, Bord na Móna wanted to continue to supply peat along with biomass to be used together to generate electricity at ESB power plants.  

However, An Bord Pleanála refused permission for this in July, sparking serious concerns among workers.

Bord na Móna has now reached an agreement with ESB that peat-powered electricity plants in Offaly and Lough Ree will continue to operate until the end of 2020.

Just Transition Fund 

In Budget 2020, which was announced last week, the government confirmed it will invest €31 million in a number of initiatives which “focus on helping those most impacted as Ireland steps up our response to climate disruption”. 

This figures includes €6 million for a Just Transition Fund for reskilling workers and community development; €5 million for bog restoration and rehabilitation on non-Bord na Móna bogs, and €20 million to deliver a new model for group housing upgrades in the midlands.

Speaking today, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Burton said the government’s priority is “to assist Bord na Móna, its workers and the wider region as it moves away from fossil fuels and towards a more sustainable, resilient business model, that can secure jobs for the midlands in the long-term”.

The direct measures on bogs and retrofits have the capacity to deliver up to 500 new direct and indirect jobs for the midlands.

“I will shortly bring forward proposals for a Just Transition Commissioner who will coordinate work between stakeholders in the region and central government,” he said. 

Bruton added that engagement between Bord na Móna and its workers will be facilitated through the Joint Industrial Relations Council, which was established under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission.

With reporting by Cormac Fitzgerald 

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