Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has called on the Government to outline its strategic plan for the development of Bord na Móna over the coming years.
The Offaly TD has called for the introduction of a support mechanism to support the growth of the biomass industry in order to create new opportunities for Bord na Móna.
Deputy Cowen commented, “Bord na Móna is currently preparing for the phasing out of the ‘Public Service Obligation’ payment that it receives from the state. However the Government is yet to outline any credible plan for the future direction of the company after this payment ceases.
“I have spoken to a number of workers in recent months and they have serious concerns over the future direction of the company. They fear that pay cuts could be imposed, along with a downsizing of the staff, should a strategic development plan not be put in place. Local communities are also concerned about the possible loss of seasonal jobs.
“The phasing out of the PSO and the introduction of ‘hybrid status’ for ESB power plants presents a major challenge for Bord na Móna. Its traditional role in energy production is clearly changing. This presents both opportunities and challenges for the company.
“The Government needs to develop a biomass support mechanism to encourage greater use of biomass in the decades to come. This would secure the future of Bord na Móna by giving it a new purposes as a major player in providing the fuel necessary for energy production.
“The ESB has yet to outline the future of its partnership with Bord na Móna. I believe it is of fundamental importance that the current relationship is maintained and built on over the coming years. I see no reason why the relationship cannot continue, especially if the Government develops a proper strategy to encourage the growth of the biomass industry. Bord na Móna has the potential to be a major contributor of biomass fuel to ESB hybrid power plants.
Deputy Cowen also called on the Government to address the discrepancies in the implementation of the carbon tax on solid fuels.
“The current implementation of the carbon tax has resulted in fuel products being imported from Northern Ireland to avoid payment of the tax. This has put further pressure on Bord na Móna as the tax is putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to competiveness.
“The Government needs to examine the current implementation of the carbon tax to ensure Bord na Móna is put on a level playing field with competitors in Northern Ireland” said Deputy Cowen.