Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, has officially announced the appointment of the ‘just transition commissioner’, as part of the Government’s ‘Just Transition Plan’ that was announced in Budget 2020.

Kieran Mulvey will be the first just transition commissioner. He will be tasked with co-ordinating “the Government’s response to an accelerated exit from peat for electricity generation” in the midlands.

The announcement of the appointment comes after an earlier announcement today, Friday, November 8, by ESB, that two power stations in the midlands – Lough Ree Power Station in Lanesboro, Co. Longford; and West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly – would be closed at the end of December 2020.

The government prioritised just transition in the recent Budget, including a number of measures which will help ensure the transition which Kieran Mulvey, in his role as just transition commissioner, will now co-ordinate to ensure we secure long-term, sustainable employment for the midlands.

“I am confident that Kieran, with his huge experience in a range of different projects, is ideally placed to become the first Just Transition Commissioner. At the heart of the just transition must be job creation and re-training,” Minister Bruton said in a statement.

“It must be about creating opportunity for the region for decades to come and supporting workers” the minister added.

The terms of reference under which Mulvey – who has extensive experience in labour and industrial relations – will work was also published today.

The just transition commissioner will engage with all relevant stakeholders, including local community organisations; Bord na Móna; ESB; the Midlands Transition Team; local authorities; and public representatives; and relevant trade unions and workers representatives.

“The commissioner will also review experiences and best practices in other projects and areas, nationally and internationally, and relevant existing state plans and programmes,” Minister Bruton explained.

He continued: “The commissioner will then recommend the essential elements of a ‘just transition’. The commissioner will report to Government through the Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and Environment.”

Minister Bruton also confirmed that he would visit the midlands region next week to meet with workers and community representatives.

Furthermore, the minister stated that the Government had been engaging with the European Commission to put in place a bog rehabilitation programme, targeting 77,000ha of bogland, funded through “re-purposed” public service obligations.