The Midlands can become the heart of Ireland's renewable energy sector - Brian Stanley TD
Sinn Féin TD for Laois/Offaly Brian Stanley has called for the Midlands to be designated as a key energy hub as part of a Just Transition strategy, and for a major stimulus package to be provided in the region to support Bord na Móna and the ESB to provide quality green energy jobs.
He was speaking following the news that the government will be presented later today with a report by the Just Transition Commissioner recommending the Midlands become a vital energy hub.
"Sinn Féin has long campaigned for the Midlands to become the heart of Ireland's renewable energy sector as part of a Just Transition strategy.
"It is essential that Ireland significantly increases its production of renewable energy and the three power plants in the Midlands offer an opportunity to do just that.
"Due to their geographical position, each power plant is strategically well placed on the electricity grid to take advantage of renewable energy production.
"I therefore welcome the news that the Just Transition Commissioner will recommend later today that the Midlands should become a vital energy hub and that urgent action should be taken to protect jobs at Bord na Móna.
"What Sinn Féin has been calling for is a long-term plan to convert the ESB and Bord na Móna plants to focus on biogas, biomass, solar and wind creation.
"Bord na Móna should continue to operate Edenderry, but it must convert to 100% biomass. Shannonbridge should be retained by the ESB and move into biogas and biomass, while also acting as a connection point for solar and wind energy. Lough Ree should focus on electricity creation though similar sources.
"We must also begin to transition workers away from brown and into green energy, and that is why Sinn Féin is calling for the Mount Lucas Training Centre in Offaly to designated as a centre for excellence in national apprenticeships and training in energy efficient construction and retrofitting skills.
"We also want to see additional finance allocated for the re-wetting of bogs which will provide Bord na Móna with an extra source of revenue while providing quality jobs in the area.
"It is vital that a Just Transition stimulus package is also provided in the coming months."