Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Supporting a Just Transition: Discussion (Resumed)
I welcome Mr. Mulvey's appointment. I see a problem around the workload involved. There is a huge job of work to be done here, which involves a massive amount of consultation and interaction with many groups. I feel it is necessary for the Government. I can see Mr. Mulvey's initial role in terms of leadership and guidance in bringing together the various organisations and community groups, interstate agencies and inter-departmental groups. I cannot see this going any further with regard to a comprehensive plan or a plan that can be implemented to assist.
I want to be parochial in that the just transition is all about the midlands, but Littleton in Tipperary, which I represent, was always part of the Bord na Móna family. Our problem is that the peat briquette plant closed with the loss of 120 jobs, but we have not had a just transition. We seem to have been completely and totally left out of the loop. Nobody from Tipperary or from the county council is represented at the regional meetings Mr. Mulvey has had. I see from the list of meetings that there has been no contact with anybody about Tipperary or about Littleton. I want to make it clear that this is not just about the people who have lost their jobs in Littleton. We sat down, the unions played a leadership role, and we came to a conclusion around redundancy. We had 90% agreement and everyone was reasonably happy, but the issue is not just about the jobs that were lost, it is also about the future of the communities where Bord na Móna exists. Littleton in Thurles employed 120 people. It was the central and integral part of the local economy. The community was built around the factory, and suddenly we have devastation and we have no alternatives.
There is massive infrastructure there such as the 10,000 acres of bogland between Littleton and the Laois border. There is a vast number of buildings and infrastructure such as water and sewerage, energy etc. in that area. We have a lot to attract alternative industry there. Somebody needs to sit down to look at the options, come up with a formula and devise a plan for it. We have not been included in the just transition up to now. Will Mr. Mulvey please ensure that Littleton is included in the overall plan? Will he offer to meet with our county council as the lead body? We have a community action group established. Perhaps Mr. Mulvey could meet with the group and with the Oireachtas representatives from Tipperary. I want to be realistic. There are people who think this implies there would be jobs on the horizon immediately.
Others have been led to believe they will receive a retrofit grant because they worked at Bord na Móna. I accept that we are a long way from detailing what might be available, but I ask that Littleton not be forgotten and that it be included in Mr. Mulvey's deliberations. I ask that we be consulted and be part of whatever proposals are made. There was a closure but there has not been a transition.