Sun gives rays of hope to rejuvenated peat industry
Bord na Móna expected to meet 4m tonnes harvest target today
“We will have four million tonnes of peat on Monday which is fantastic. That is our target,” said head of peat production Paul Riordan
Bord na Móna is set to meet its peat harvest target today, stabilising 1,500 jobs and potentially saving the midland-based industry.
There were well-founded fears for hundreds of jobs at Bord na Móna following the worst harvest in the company’s 67-year history last year.
Achieving just 37 per cent of the harvest in 2012 was a “disaster” compounded by successive poor summers, Bord na Móna’s head of peat production Paul Riordan admitted.
He acknowledged there was a belief that “if we had another bad year this year we would be out of business”. Thankfully, “someone answers prayers sometimes and when we needed it, it happened . . . We will have four million tonnes of peat on Monday which is fantastic. That is our target.”
With further good weather, “we could be talking about the worst and best year back-to-back, potentially”, he said. Not only has the target been reached but the quality of the peat is superior, containing less moisture than last year.
There are 1,200 employed in the harvest, with a further 300 involved in Bord na Móna’s peat briquette and horticulture business. Of the four million tonnes, three will fire peat-burning electricity stations while the rest will be shared between the body’s briquette and horticulture business. Staff will now build up stocks to future proof Bord na Móna from bad weather.
Apart from harvesting staff working 13-hour shifts seven days a week, Bord na Móna has 60 volunteers trained to spot fire hazards.
Local TD Barry Cowen paid tribute to Bord na Móna.
While peat harvesting had been a “driving force in the midland economy”, Mr Cowen expressed disappointment that the Government was not doing more to assist with the industry’s transition to renewable energy.