Naughten says converting midlands plants to biomass fuel could save jobs

The independent TD for Roscommon-Galway was recently named Minister for Communications

Naughten says converting midlands plants to biomass fuel could save jobs

Anna Gowthorpe / PA

Three turf-fired power stations in the midlands, two operated by the ESB and one by Bord na Mona, could be converted to biomass fuel according to plans being evaluated by the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment, Denis Naughten.

He confirmed to The Irish Independent this morning that he’s been briefed that the future of all three facilities and a total of nearly 1,500 jobs are currently under threat if Bord na Mona fails to get approval from An Bord Pleanala  permission for an extension to its peat-burning plant at Edenderry.

Noting that he was probably the Dail’s "single biggest supporter of biomass," he added that the prospect of converting the three midlands plants was more feasible than refitting the ESB’s giant coal-burning station at Moneypoint in Clare.

"From my perspective as a Midlands TD, biomass has to be grown here in Ireland. One -because of the carbon impact of that, but two - because of jobs.

"There's 800 to 900 people directly employed in supplying and supporting the three peat-fired power stations," he told the newspaper.

"There's roughly the same number of ancillary jobs supported by that. And the solution we're being told in relation to those three peat-fired power stations is to grow willow and supply them through biomass," the Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway added.