Independent TD Carol Nolan has said communities throughout Offaly and the midlands have been left devastated by the shock announcement from ESB management that both the West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power Stations are to cease the generation of electricity at the end of December 2020.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after ESB issued a surprise statement confirming that it sees no viable business model beyond 2020 for both the plants.
“This is the worst possible news that the communities, workers and their families could have received,” the Offaly TD said.
“We had hoped that with the recent opening of Lough Ree that some kind of viable way forward was possible.Indeed, we were left with that distinct impression by all senior personnel involved. I want to know what has changed in the last month and a half?” she asked.
“Why were our communities lulled into a false sense of security if the situation was really as dire and irretrievable as ESB is now saying it is?”
Deputy Nolan said workers would be left extremely angry with the lethargic approach that was adopted by this government over the last number of years.
“In fact, it is only relatively recently that we have seen the government give the sector the kind of priority and urgency that it demanded a decade ago and more.Today’s announcement also makes a mockery of the governments recent commitment to provide a so called Just Transition Commissioner,” she said.
“We were told that the Commissioner’s remit was to be the “person on the ground” by Minister Richard Bruton. We were also told that the role would involve bringing back ideas to government as part of the just transition plan, which as I understand it is being implemented by the Department of An Taoiseach.”
Where is all that planning and engagement now when the people of Offaly and the midlands region have been left traumatised by the end of a generational and proud tradition,” she asked .