Bord na Móna’s renaissance as “a climate solutions” company is finally achieving some momentum with confirmation it is to create 885 new jobs mainly in the midlands.
This is on top of 550 jobs already generated over the past 18 months as it ends peat extraction and transitions into renewable energy; providing recycling infrastructure and carbon storage through peatland rehabilitation on its land bank of 210,000 acres.
Chief executive Tom Donnellan, who was joined by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan at the company's Cloncreen Wind Farm in Co Offaly, was at pains to underline this week that it would continue to be a leading employer in the midlands, "going beyond merely replacing old jobs".
That was disputed, however, after confirmation that 335 jobs would emerge from partnerships with third-party companies – in some cases using its lands – and 300 jobs would be in construction as renewable energy projects were rolled out.
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice claimed direct employment would not return to pre-2018 levels and insisted the jobs would not provide the same security as traditional jobs previously offered by the company.
“The spin doctors have been out in force today in an effort to paint a picture of positivity and prosperity, as Bord na Móna is hailed for its transition from brown to green,” he noted.
That aside, the transition cannot be denied; 80 per cent of Bord na Móna’s operations are now focused on renewable energy, recycling, peatland rehabilitation and sustainable product development.
Likewise, the ambition is clear: Bord na Móna aims to supply a third of Irish homes with renewable energy. It intends to add a gigawatt of wind energy to its portfolio by 2030. This would provide energy to an additional 600,000 Irish homes – bringing total homes powered from its energy sources to more than 800,000 out of a national housing stock of 2,380,580. That would add up to becoming a major player in the Irish renewables sector.