Plan of action to resolve peat plant dispute

 

A protest by farmers in the Clonbulogue area near Edenderry, Co Offaly, over the alleged silting of land from local Bord na Mona workings, is being resolved by talks.

The protest involved a number of farmers who refused to vacate an area around the new power plant at Edenderry, where "blow outs" are currently being carried out by Bord na Mona. The procedure involves blowing steam through pipes to clear them.

The £30 million peat-burning plant, which is being built by the IVO company, is almost six months ahead of schedule and has been linked to the national power grid.

While it is not yet generating electricity, the plant's operators have been burning peat there in order to clean out the equipment.

Peat from the local bogs is being supplied to the company, and farmers used this as an opportunity to highlight their grievances over the condition of the Figile river.

They have been claiming for some time that drainage work carried out by Bord na Mona to develop the bog has left banks of peat silt and dredging debris on their lands. They have threatened to refuse to allow further drainage work to be carried out on the Figile and its tributaries until agreement is reached with Bord na Mona.

They are also seeking compensation from the board for land lost to peat production due to spoil dumping in the past and damage caused by flooding.

The company has denied responsibility. It has said it is operating under an EPA licence and that work on the river or its tributaries will have to have the agreement of the Barrow Drainage Board, which has responsibility for drainage in the area.

The Irish Farmers' Association president, Mr Tom Parlon, was called in by farmers to negotiate with Bord na Mona. Following these talks, it has been agreed that a plan of action will be put in place.

This is being done on the basis that there will be "nothing agreed until everything is agreed", so it could be some weeks before all parties are satisfied with the outcome.