Bord na Móna is to create 885 new jobs mainly in the midlands as it shifts from peat extraction in the region and embraces “climate solutions” including expansion into renewable energy.
This is on top of 550 jobs already generated over the past 18 months as it ends peat extraction and transitions into wind and solar energy production; providing recycling infrastructure and carbon storage through peatland rehabilitation of its vast land bank of 210,000 acres.
Details of it plans were announced on Thursday at the company's Cloncreen Wind Farm in Co Offaly with Taoiseach Micheál Martin, and Minister for the Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan.
Bord na Móna's transformation to a climate solutions company, which began in 2018, was delivering on key aspects of national climate action policy and having a significant economic benefit on the midlands, chief executive Tom Donnellan said on Thursday.
The additional 885 jobs over the next five years will come from “expansion of its climate solutions businesses, partnerships with third parties and the construction of a significant portion of Ireland’s renewable energy infrastructure”, he said.
Direct employment within the company will return to pre-transition levels over that period.
At this point 80 per cent of the company’s operations are focused on renewable energy production, recycling, peatland rehabilitation, and sustainable product development.
“By 2030, Bord na Móna will be able to supply a third of Irish homes with renewable energy,” Mr Donnellan said.
Mr Martin said the world had changed dramatically since Bord na Móna was established with climate change “the key long-term challenge ”.
He paid tribute to company’s transition, especially in bringing benefits to the region.
“Bord na Móna has reinvented itself to meet that challenge with the continued development of over 1,400 climate solutions jobs.”
Mr Ryan said the company had shown Ireland can successfully tackle climate change by focusing on solutions.
Working with his department and the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Bord na Móna was “pioneering the rewetting of our bogs to help us store carbon. Workers who once harvested peat are now using their skills to protect nature”, he said.
In tandem with this, the company was being ambitious in renewable energy and recycling, Mr Ryan said.
“This is creating green, innovative jobs in the Midlands and beyond, and demonstrating that as we move from brown to green we can deliver a just transition,” he added.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he was glad to see the creation of sustainable, long-term jobs at Bord na Móna.
Mr Donnellan said the scale of the plan showed Bord na Móna was going beyond merely replacing old jobs which came to and end when peat extraction ended.
Its renewable energy “would power the new economy”, recycle precious resources, and rehabilitate peatland to store more than 100 million tonnes of CO2 a year, he said, while “sustaining this generation of people in employment that will ensure communities continue to thrive across the region”.
Of the 1,435 jobs being created, a total which includes 550 jobs already generated over the past 18 months, 1,100 roles are being generated directly by Bord na Móna operations while 335 would emerge from partnerships with third party companies, which in some cases would be using its lands.
Along with direct employment this would create a yearly average of 300 construction jobs – mostly renewable energy projects – across the Midlands.
Last year Bord na Móna said it was raising €1.6 billion to fund a series of climate-focused projects across its landholding.
These include largescale projects, such as wind, solar energy, battery storage (to store electricity), biomass and renewable gas generation.
The company has also made significant investments in domestic waste recycling infrastructure; Littleton farm plastics facility (on the site of a former briquette factory) in Co Tipperary and expansion of its tyre recycling facility in Drogheda.
With €108 million from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and €18 million of its own funds, it also unveiled its peatland climate action scheme, which will harness the natural ability of peatlands in capturing carbon and helping to cut emissions. Improving biodiversity and development of amenities are also key objectives with this project.