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‘West Clare is left behind’ – frustration grows over inaction on Moneypoint

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Annoyance has been expressed locally with the lack of outlined plans for Moneypoint post 2025.

In Dáil Éireann last week, Dr. Michael Harty (IND) questioned Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton (FG) “if the ESB has provided him with the list of options for the future of Moneypoint when the electricity generating plan must cease burning coal by 2025”.

Bruton repeated the already confirmed news that coal-fired electricity generation would cease at Moneypoint “no later than 2025. The ESB has informed me of a range of potential technologies it is examining including biomass, combined cycle gas, gas peaking plants, offshore wind, electricity storage or a combination of these. ESB operates commercially in the wholesale electricity market on the island, the Single Electricity Market. The development of replacement generation for Moneypoint is contingent on a commercially viable project, noting that revenues would include those from the wholesale market, capacity auctions and ancillary services”.

Such a reply worried Dr Harty as he told The Clare Echo, “The vagueness of the Minister’s response on the future of Moneypoint makes me worry. For the past year I have been asking him for details of the ESB’s plans when the power station ceases burning coal in 2025. One year later, all he can tell me is the ESB is examining a range of technologies. If they were serious about putting something in place post 2025, the ESB should have put more concrete proposals on the Minister’s desk. Until a better response is provided, one is entitled to ask if the ESB has really any significant interest in Moneypoint after coal burning ceases. Meanwhile we await details of the Just Transition Fund for Moneypoint and West Clare which the Taoiseach has promised me in the Dáil.”

Doonbeg native, Rita McInerney who is running as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the General Election accused Fine Gael of continuing to ignore West Clare as plans for Moneypoint remain up in the air. She was annoyed to see senior government officials travel to the Midlands earlier this month to meet people affected by ESB closing two peat burning power stations but for no such visit to be made to Clare.

“West Clare has been completely forgotten by Fine Gael. The announcement that operations at Moneypoint would cease in 2025 was made months ago and not one Minister has come to Clare to meet workers or the local community. People here are worried about what the future holds for them. There has been no indication from the Minister or ESB as to what will happen the plant post 2025. Will there be opportunities for current workers at the facility, or should they be looking at alternative options.

McInerney added, “There is a complete information vacuum here in Clare and the government’s hands-off approach is typical of Fine Gael’s out of touch attitude to rural Ireland. I am calling on Minister Bruton and ESB bosses to level with communities in Clare. The current uncertainty is completely unnecessary and is preventing people from being able to plan for their futures”.

Clarity is needed from the ESB on their future plans, Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) has stressed. “The ESB’s decision to shut its two main midlands operations in just 12 months’ time shocked many people here in Clare and has created a renewed sense of fear about the company’s plans for its Moneypoint site. The loss of 100 jobs earlier in the year was a huge blow to the area and the vacuum of information sense then is added to people’s worry and anxiety.

“It’s clear that the decision announced earlier this month had been part of the ESB’s carbon reducing strategy for some time and had been analysed and appraised. However, it took locals by surprise and has cast a shadow across the Midlands. Lessons need to be learned from this announcement and I am calling on the ESB and the government to be more forthcoming about the plan for Moneypoint. There is little point in Ministers meeting with locals after the fact. There is little that can be done once the decision has been made,” he said in a statement to The Clare Echo

“Moneypoint has great potential to be a harvesting station for offshore wind farms. A full conversion to biomass fuels would also give the station a viable future. The ESB needs to fast-track the publication of their plans to repurpose Moneypoint and it, along with the government, needs to keep workers and other stakeholders fully briefed going forward”, Cllr Crowe concluded.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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