Bord na Móna profit slumps despite State support, figures show

Diversified State company faces questions over role after peat harvesting ends

Mountlucas wind farm in Co Offaly, owned by Bord na Móna. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Mountlucas wind farm in Co Offaly, owned by Bord na Móna. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

It has not been a particularly good year for Bord na Móna, one of the Republic’s oldest State companies. On Monday it reported that pretax profits were down 45 per cent at €12 million in the 12 months to the end of March, partly the result of a €14 million hit that it took on the purchase of UK horticulture business White Moss, which was found to be in breach of environmental regulations.

The news followed recent revelations that, after less than three years, managing director Mike Quinn is leaving in October to go to State utility Ervia, which owns Irish Water and the natural gas distribution network. Quinn’s departure was confirmed only in recent weeks. The company’s annual report, published on Monday, briefly references his decision in a two-page question-and-answer type interview.

In some ways, the more pertinent pages in the report are those immediately following Quinn’s Q&A – his colleague chief financial officer Michael Barry’s summary of the year.

They show that the State company endured a tough 12 months on a number of fronts. Sales in virtually all its key businesses, barring waste collection and processing, were down.

One striking thing about the figures is the fact that Bord na Móna – a State company – depends on a State scheme to support some of its revenue. Another is the range of businesses in which it is now operating, waste collection, power plants, renewables , peat, horticulture and selling coal.

As a group, it has yet to answer the question that have been dogging it for some time: what happens when it can no longer harvest and sell peat? This year brought it no closer to that answer, but time is running and Quinn’s successor will almost certainly have to find it.