Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has said there is widespread shock and anger at the sudden announcement by Bord Na Móna that it will permanently cease all peat harvesting and production. She said that the decision made “no sense .. given that solid fuels are now being imported into this country.”
She said that Bord na Móna had backtracked on assurances that they would fight to restart harvesting after 2020, and described plans to import fuel – in addition to alternatives to horticultural peat – because of the shut down as “ludicrous”.
“Apparently, Ireland and the Midlands in particular is going to save the planet! Absolute nonsense,” Deputy Noland said. “This is Green policy – radical and extreme and detached from reality which Fianna Fáíl and Fine Gael are happy to go along with and implement with no thought or regard for people’s livelihoods.”
Deputy Nolan was speaking after the Chief executive Tom Donnellan confirmed that the move marked the formal end to the company’s association with peat harvesting, as it moves on “to tackle the critical challenges concerning climate change, energy supply, biodiversity and the circular economy.
“This decision is going to create a real sense of dread for many thousands of workers especially those within the wider horticulture-based economy,” she said. “Last June the company clearly assured workers that it was suspending all peat harvesting for the 2020 season only and that it was also pursuing legal challenges to the planning issues being raised by environmental groups.”
“Today however it appears that the company has totally caved into the Green Party led demands with an even further escalation of the entire so called just transition process. I am genuinely alarmed at this move and so too is the Just Transition Commissioner who can clearly see the risk this is going to create for thousands of jobs within our own indigenous horticulture sector,” she said.
“This is an issue I have raised on numerous occasions with the Minister Eamon Ryan. Why should Irish horticulturists now have to rely on imported product for survival? It makes no sense from either an economic or environmental point of view.
“And what about all those peat contractors who invested in new machinery prior to the announcement in June? Only this week Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed to me in his reply to my Parliamentary Question that he and this government are going to do nothing in terms of assisting with compensation.
There has to be a better way of doing things than this. It is profoundly unfair and a decision that yet again, undermines any sense that the transition process is going to deliver for workers and families,” concluded Deputy Nolan.