Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South Seán Ó Fearghaíl says the High Court’s decision to quash an extension of a peat extraction license for a power plant in Offaly could lead to a greater dependence on controversial windfarm developments.

Deputy Ó Fearghaíl also pointed out that the decision puts jobs in the peat harvesting industry at significant risk.

“The Government needs to set out a plan to provide certainty for Bord na Móna workers employed in the peat harvesting process following the High Court’s decision to quash an extension of the Edenderry power plants peat extraction license,” said Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.

“The decision means that the lifespan of the power plant in Edenderry may now be significantly reduced and there are over 180 jobs at risk as a result of this. However the ruling does not solely impact on Edenderry as there are also serious concerns surround the future of other peat powered power plants and the extensive employment they provide through peat harvesting operations.

“Bord na Móna is a significant employer in Kildare but this High Court ruling puts a question mark over the company’s future operations. Workers at the company and the wider community need certainty regarding their future in light of this ruling. Communities are also worried that this ruling could lead to a greater reliance on controversial wind farm developments, many of which have already caused consternation across Ireland and which are strenuously opposed in county Kildare.

“Fianna Fáil previously brought forward measures to continue with peat extraction in order to support job creation and allow management at Bord na Móna to transition to a more sustainable method of energy production. A central part of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to extend the peat extraction license in the first instance was to allow the company put in place a new form of energy production. This ruling means management at the company are now racing against time to secure the future of the plant.

“The Government needs to urgently set out a plan to ensure the long term operation of this strategic power plant. The plant is an important source of employment and economic activity and its future cannot be put in jeopardy,” said Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.