17 Oct 2019 | 02.56 pm
One Third Of Carbon Tax Hike Going To Midlands
€30m of the €90m extra tax revenue for Bord na Móna 'transition'
17 Oct 2019 | 02.56 pm
Climate Change minister Richard Bruton has confirmed that one-third of the €90m extra tax revenue from the increased Carbon Tax in 2020 will go to assisting workers at Bord Na Móna.
The energy company is to receive an extra €5m to boost its rehabilitation of worked peatlands in the region, while €20m will go towards improving energy efficiency in social housing in the Midlands. The scheme will retrofit houses to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.
The minister has also allocated €6m to a new ‘Just Transition’ scheme aimed at ensuring that the shift to a lower carbon economy occurs without undue hardship to communities and individuals affected by possible changes. This fund will be administered by a Just Transition Commissioner who will work with local communities and other stakeholders in the Midlands to identify priorities.
Bruton explained: “The government’s priority is to assist Bord na Móna, its workers and the wider region as it moves away from fossil fuels and towards a more sustainable, resilient business model, that can secure jobs for the Midlands in the long-term.
“The direct measures on bogs and retrofits have the capacity to deliver up to 500 new direct and indirect jobs for the Midlands. I also welcome the announcement that an agreement has been reached between Bord na Móna and the ESB to supply peat to their two Midlands power stations in West Offaly and Lough Ree through to the end of 2020.”
The €5m extra cash for Bord na Móna’s bog restoration project will go towards restoring 1,800 hectares of bog in seven counties. Bruton expects that the project will create 70 jobs in year one rising to 100 as the programme develops.
The total €90m extra Carbon Tax in 2020 will mostly come from motorists through higher fuel prices.
Bord na Mόna unions have branded the minister’s initiatives as an attempt to portray further job losses as part of a ‘Just Transition’ plan for workers.
BNM Group of Unions Secretary, Willie Noone, said: “The reality is that the number of workers in the company is being cut at an accelerated rate in a very unfair fashion. The promises of reskilling, retaining or alternative employment for these workers mentioned are not a reality.
“The company has claimed that it is not relying on ESB plans for the midland power stations. This would indicate that government policy of co-fuelling these stations until 2030 has been abandoned which will result in accelerated BNM job losses.
“Alternative plans involving peat harvesting are based on assumptions that it will be able to maintain horticultural, briquette making and power generation jobs relating to Edenderry Power Station until 2025.
“However, there are significant obstacles to be overcome in relation to such plans. There has also been no indication of how existing pensions schemes at the company will be supported. This issue is a cause of huge concern to the thousands of workers in the Midlands who depend on BNM pensions.”
Noone added: “It was very significant that the minister and BNM did not give any indication of the numbers of employees that are projected to be working in company by 2025. Evidence to date shows that replacement work is short term, non-pensionable and paid significantly less.”