100 more activists on way to join anti-peat protest at ESB plant


CLIMATE CAMP Ireland protesters conducted a sit-in in front of the gates of a midlands power station yesterday in their continuing protests against the plant.

The environmental activists, who object to the use of peat by Bord na Móna and the ESB at Shannonbridge, are planning to remain camped in the village until Sunday.

Gardaí in Banagher, Co Offaly, continue to monitor the situation. They confirmed there had been a “sit-down protest” at the gates of West Offaly Power plant each morning. They also confirmed that they are investigating the tampering of locks at a Bord na Móna transport centre in Shannonbridge on Tuesday.

Gardaí described their relationship with the Climate Camp Ireland activists as a “cordial one”. They said all interaction with them has been peaceful.

Climate Camp Ireland spokesman Brendan Gaffney said there had been no problems between camp members and the local community. The group had dropped leaflets and consulted with the local community before setting up camp.

He admitted that some of the eco-activists had been involved in the Corrib Pipeline protests and said those members had learned from their mistakes in Co Mayo.

Some Shannonbridge residents and Bord na Móna employees are concerned about the camp, local councillor Connie Hanniffy (FG) said. She said Bord na Móna and the ESB had contributed greatly to the area.

Climate Camp Ireland is on the side of Bord na Móna employees and wants to see the use of alternative energy, said Mr Gaffney. “We want them to have secure employment because the fuel itself will run out in 15 years.” He urged Bord na Móna to look at the bog from a tourism and natural heritage perspective and said there was no future in harvesting peat.

He also gave an assurance that the camp would not become permanent. Only a few members will remain behind on Monday to restore the campsite to its original condition, he said.

A spokesman for Bord na Móna said it has pledged not to open any new bogs. “We are trialling biomass replacements, not opening any new bogs, rehabilitating old bogs and converting to eco-tourism like Boora, or giving back to local communities like Abbeyleix in Co Laois,” he said.

Bord na Móna is conducting extensive research into the use of wind energy and biomass products.

“The ESB and Bord na Móna are looking at the gradual replacement of peat with biomass. Ultimately we are moving away from peat, said the spokesman.

“More use will be made of wind energy as we are lucky that some lands are in windy places. We are also using green waste from our waste division as a replacer for peat in peat moss.”

More eco-activists are expected to attend Climate Camp Ireland at the weekend. The group has planned a day of action and a carnival on Saturday. While there were some 100 activists on site yesterday, 100 more were understood to be making their way towards the camp by bicycle .

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