Bord na Móna is shutting its Tipperary plant as demand for peat dries up
The semi-state has put aside more than €1 million for plant closures as it shifts to renewable energy.
BORD NA MÓNA’S Tipperary briquette factory will close as the semi-state battles excess production at its plants.
A spokesperson for the state-owned company said that a decision had been reached to retain the Bord Na Móna plant in Derrinlough, Co Offaly, but to close its Littleton facility.
The spokesperson said that both locations had only been open for six months a year for the last few years, and that they were significantly over-capacity.
Unions, however, said that they does not accept this decision and “it will be opposed by our members by all legitimate means including industrial action”.
In all, there are 69 employees who will be affected when the Littleton facility ceases production in April next year. Furthermore, there “will also be some impact” on the 56 employees at the peat harvesting facility in Littleton, according to Bord na Móna.
Bord na Móna cites declining sales due to increased competition, low oil prices, carbon tax and other factors as contributing to the decision.
“To sustain the business into the future,” the company said in a statement, “Derrinlough factory, which employs 61 people, would be the optimum location for future investment to secure the future of the fuels business.”
Head of Bord na Móna fuels, Eddie Scaife, said: “This has been a very difficult decision following a period of uncertainty for employees.
“Ultimately we had to make a decision that ensured we had a business that could survive these challenges and safeguard the biggest number of briquetting jobs.”
As previously reported by Fora, the semi-state has set aside more than €1 million for plant closures as it winds down peat production.
After 2030, Bord na Móna will no longer harvest peat for energy and will instead focus on energy production from renewables, such as biomass or wind.
Unions were critical of the latest move, adding that a decision had been reached without engagement with unions and that closing the Littleton facility was “premature”.
The Bord na Móna group of unions and Siptu organiser John Regan said: “Our members are very disappointed but not surprised by this move by Bord na Móna.
“There have been issues with sales of peat briquettes in the last two years. However, our members believe this move is premature and unwarranted, particularly as the plant is also in a process of diversifying its output with the development of a biomass briquette.
“This has angered our members and deeply disappointed them. It leaves them with no option but to consider what action must now be taken to persuade the company to reverse this unacceptable decision.”
Meanwhile, the Green Party called on the government to redirect €120 million from the Public Service Obligation levy into a fund that will re-train workers over the next few years and provide job transition supports in the affected communities.
Reporting by Sean Murray and Peter Bodkin.
Sign up to our newsletter to receive a regular digest of Fora’s top articles delivered to your inbox.