Peat briquette factory to continue operating in midlands for years

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Concern mounting over future of 130 jobs at briquette factories in Offaly and Tipperary

Briquette demand has surged in recent weeks

A midlands peat briquette factory run by Bord na Móna is to run for three years after the company will have ended peat extraction.

The news was confirmed by Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly, Barry Cowen who said he is conscious of the fundamental changes that are occurring in the midlands and the difficult changes that are occurring for people who have worked in Bord na Móna for decades.

“I am aware of people’s concerns in relation to peat production not meeting demand. I have been informed that Bord na Móna’s Derrinlough briquette factory is due to remain in production until 2024. The factory is currently working at full capacity, production and nationwide supply of peat briquettes is in line with last year’s volume. That said, as the end of the heating season approaches, it is expected that the factory’s stock holding naturally gets tighter.

“It is also worth noting that Budget 2021 provided €221.5 million in capital funding for residential and community retrofit programmes this year to be funded through the SEAI. This represents an 82% increase, on the 2020 allocation and is the largest ever budget for the schemes.

“The Programme for Government and the Climate Action Plan have set the target of retrofitting 500,000 homes and installing 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings over the next ten years.

“I firmly believe there is a need for a bespoke heat retrofit for homes depending on solid fuel. I will continue to engage with the Government on this in order to encourage the development of a pilot scheme that specifically caters to pensioners and others who are at risk of fuel poverty,” said Dep Cowen.

The Laois Offaly TD says has campaigned 'tirelessly' on behalf of those affected to ensure the Government makes available the necessary funding and support to maximise the potential to respond positively.

“I was successful in providing for specific targeted investment under Just Transition programme where increased revenue from carbon tax revenue is ring-fenced for those areas most impacted," he said.

The Fianna Fáil man said allocations of almost €140m targeted rehabilitation of bogs, and grants to various community and commercial projects promoting tourism, biodiversity, climate action and social inclusion projects amongst others are real signs of the opportunities that are emerging as a result of that initiative.