Alternative uses for Midlands power stations must be found

Alan Kelly TD
11 December 2020
  • Transfer to Local Authorities or tender for other uses must be carried out.
  • Biomass option appears to have been abandoned.
  • Just Transition Taskforce urgently needed to prevent rust belts.

Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly has called for the government to urgently intervene to ensure a just transition for midland communities and the workers, as ESB peat power stations are closed to ensure an alternative use is found for the plants rather than allow them to be knocked down.

Deputy Kelly said:

“We all recognise the climate impact of burning peat, but the rapid winddown of the power plants will have a devastating impact on the communities that rely on the economic and social contribution of the stations. The closure of Shannonbridge today, and Lanesboro next week without any clear plan for the future is deeply concerning.

“It is essential that alternative uses are examined for the plants rather than moving towards demolition. The jobs that came from Bord na Móna and the ESB were a vital support for Midlands communities but there doesn’t seem to be any urgency about bringing forward plans for a new era. What has happened to the plans for biomass? Why isn’t there some kind of just transition plan?

“With a rapid closure now in progress, the government must look at alternative uses for these large facilities. These are public facilities through our ownership of the ESB. Options such as transferring ownership to local authorities, or tendering for alternative uses must be examined. It would be a huge waste of the infrastructure to be totally abandoned and decommissioned so quickly and deeply damaging to their communities. We know the impact of de-industrialisation had on the rust belt in the US and former mining communities in the north of England. We cannot abandon communities.

“There has been a lot of talk about a Just Transition but it is essential now that the government make it a reality. For years the Labour Party, trade unions and others have called for a Just Transition Taskforce. When will we see action? There must be a clear plan for regeneration and a transition put in place that looks at the option of biomass and other options.

“One thing that is clear now is that the Just Transition Fund that has been put in place will not be enough, and more investment will be needed. The Programme for Government commits to a statutory Just Transition Commission but it’s already too late for some Midlands communities. As these closures are accelerated there doesn’t seem to be any coherent government action plan.”

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