Pictured is Shannonbridge Power Plant
hannonbridge plant. A gas production plant there would be one option.
“Kieran Mulvey hasn’t been given a budget. His brief is very vague. There is no road map for him. Some people think he might have been parachuted in as just a PR exercise.”
Salters Sterling commented that we should be able to save our planet and save the communities of West Offaly at the same time. One shouldn’t come before the other. “What we need now is the same spirit which I saw in the universities in the 1970s when faced with huge challenges. What is needed is leadership and consultation and focus and almost military precision. Unfortunately I don’t think that kind of attitude is to the fore at the moment.”
An attendee said there’s a seismic shift taking place in the planet’s history and we therefore “have to think big.” She said she met a number of Bord na Móna workers during the summer and she was taken aback by how positive they were about Bord na Móna. She had a sense that the sculpture park theme, the artistic element, in Lough Boora is being neglected a little bit in favour of a more outward bound, adventure ethos. She said it would be a great shame and a mistake to neglect the artistic element of Lough Boora.
Deputy Cowen praised Offaly County Council for raising the Property Tax this year in order to tackle the Just Transition problem. “The Council went out on a limb when they did that, and they did it with the best of intentions.” He added that it’s very important that everybody bear in mind that Kieran Mulvey hasn’t even been given a budget yet.
Nonetheless, commented Salters, Kieran Mulvey might prove a very important person who might get a lot done. He said it’s important to be balanced and not become too negative. He highlighted the positives advances in tourism in Offaly. He said more visitors are coming to Birr Castle than ever before, “and the construction of a new hotel in the Castle Demesne is looking a real possibility.”
Orla Martin, of Offaly LEO, also addressed the meeting. “We in the Midlands Regional Transition Team,” she said, “welcome the government’s commitment to provide: 1) A Just Transition fund of €11 million (including the €5 million pledged by the ESB) targeted at the Midlands to support retraining, reskilling workers, assist local communities, and businesses to the low carbon transition. 2) An additional €5 million to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for bog rehabilitation; 3) A €20 million Midlands Deep Retrofit Housing Programme. We look forward to receiving more details about these initiatives in the coming weeks. We welcome the appointment of the first Just Transition Commissioner, Kieran Mulvey, and we look forward to developing a framework for the region to support our citizens and develop new employment opportunities for the workers impacted by the acceleration of decarbonisation, thereby ensuring a just transition, whilst also sustaining our rural communities. In recent years, the Midlands under the Action Plan for Jobs experienced employment growth. These hard earned gains are now under threat. The measures announced in the budget, must be supported and reinforced in the years ahead and we as a region would ask that the unique challenge faced by the Midlands in transitioning to a low carbon economy is very much to the fore as negotiations commence on the EU Budget post 2020.”