End of an era as Bord na Móna halts peat production permanently in Laois and other midland counties

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@offalyexpress.ie

peat

Peat being harvested on a Bord na Móna bog has come to an end

Bord na Móna has announced the end of all peat harvesting operations in Laois and across the Midlands.

Chief Executive Tom Donnellan said the State-owned firm, which has a remit for economic development in Offaly and other midland counties, is now focused on renewable energy generation, recycling and developing other low carbon enterprises.

“As we have put our new climate-focused business in place, we have also completely stopped a number of high carbon operations and transitioned others to a more sustainable model.

“During this period, peat harvesting has already been wound down and stopped. The company’s last full peat harvest took place in 2018, followed by a partial harvest in 2019 and a full suspension of harvesting operations last year.

"The company has today decided to make this suspension permanent and cease any remaining harvesting preparations, including planning and substitute consent applications," he said.

The ending of harvesting comes into force from January 15.

“Today marks the formal end to the company’s association with peat harvesting, as we move on to tackle the critical challenges concerning climate change, energy supply, biodiversity and the circular economy,” he said.

Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says the announcement provides new challenges for Laois and Offaly.

“Today marks the end of an era of over eight decades of peat extraction and a period when thousands of jobs were created from this in the Midlands. As a former employee of the company, I know how important those jobs were for many families.

“There now needs to be a scaled-up effort by Government and the semi-state companies such as Bord na Mona and the ESB in terms of the diversification and moving to a Just Transition.

“Jobs in Retrofitting Homes, Bog Rehabilitation (re-wetting bogs) and in Renewal Power Regeneration must be advanced.

“A lot of homes in the Midlands that depend on solid fuel and mainly peat are not retro fitted at the moment and won’t be in the short term. It is important therefore that domestic turf cutting for private homes is protected and this is allowed to continue.

“A renewed focus needs to put on finding an alternative purpose for the Bord na Mona plant at Togher Portlaoise.  This is in an excellent location for a new employment project, and I have been raising this matter on a continuous basis with the Manager of Bord na Mona and will continue to do so,’’ he said.