Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton (left) is pictured with Offaly Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Bord na Mona chief executive Tom Donnellan in Lough Boora Discovery Park
There is widespread anger and worry in the minds of many Offaly people following the devastating news that the ESB power station in Shannonbridge (also known as West Offaly Power) is to close at the end of 2020.
The ESB announcement followed an An Bord Pleanála decision to refuse planning permission for a proposal to burn biomass as well as peat at the West Offaly Power station.
(Biomass is organic material that comes from plants and animals, and is a renewable source of energy. Solid biomass, such as wood and garbage, can be burned directly to produce heat. Biomass can also be converted into a gas called biogas or into liquid biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. These fuels can then be burned for energy. Biomass fuels still only provide a small percentage of total primary energy in western countries, but the likelihood is it will increase hugely in importance and use as we transition more and more away from fossil fuels.)
Local TDs called on the ESB to double the funding it is making available to Offaly following its decision to close its Shannonbridge power station.
Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy made the call after the ESB announced it will set up a €5 million investment fund for communities affected by the closure of West Offaly Power and a sister station in Co Longford, Lough Ree Power.
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy’s appeal to the ESB was echoed by the Fianna Fail TD for Offaly, Deputy Barry Cowen, who has also called for a substantial increase in the fund.
The public representatives pointed out that when the ESB closed Ferbane and Rhode power stations, a fund of €3 million was allocated to the community in both areas.
The Dail members were speaking this week as the Climate Action Minister, Richard Bruton TD, visited Bord na Mona’s Lough Boora Discovery Park to drive home the Government’s message that the transition to a low carbon economy will be a just one. However, in a move which disappointed local people on Monday, Minister Bruton did not visit Shannonbridge and instead went to Co Longford afterwards to meet people affected by the closure of the power station there.