Cowen calls for ESB money to be put to just transition funding

Former Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen has called for ESB money to be put towards just transition funding in the midlands.

Cowen said he is urging Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan to use €5 million from the ESB for local groups, projects and organisations in the area in the form of just transition grants, to allow them move away from reliance on peat harvesting.

“The ESB monies of €5 million was always a contribution for the localities and regions to respond to the peat-fired power plant closures and accelerated decarbonisation,” Cowen said.

So that’s the money that should be used to match government grants, dispersed by the midlands regional just transition board. It’s a simple solution to the issue.

He highlighted that there is support for such a move from ESB chief Pat O’Doherty, as well as the Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey.

Cowen argued that ESB monies would be a “core element” of local efforts at a just transition.

Cowen also noted that he had been informed by Minister Ryan’s office that it is examining whether it would be possible to treat ESB funding in this way, and that it is assessing the legality of such a move.

Bord na Móna to end all peat harvesting

Deputy Cowen’s comments come after Bord na Móna confirmed that it has permanently ended all peat harvesting on its land.

In an update to staff last night (Thursday, January 14), it said that the decision “illustrates the steep fall in the company’s use and dependence on peat during the past two years”.

However, Bord na Móna confirmed to AgriLand this morning that it still has reserves for briquettes up to 2024 and horticultural peat customers will have supply up until the summer at least.

Tom Donnellan, chief executive, said that the company’s ‘Brown to Green’ strategy has involved the “transformation of Bord na Móna from a traditional peat business into a climate solutions company”.