This planning application is being lodged with a parallel application under SID already made to An Bord Pleanala for the combustion plant and ash disposal facility in Co. Offaly.

Both applications, situated on the River Shannon arise from one of the worst strategic investment errors in the history of Irish public infrastructure by the Electricity Supply Board (“ESB”) in conjunction with Bord na Mona (“BnM”), in the early part of this century.

When the first National Climate Strategy was being prepared in 1999, it was recommended that peat burning would be phased out by 2008. Instead, the published 2000 Strategy provided for continued peat extraction and combustion. Political lobbying for the subsidy of continued peat extraction and burning was allowed to prevail with consequent energy consumer cost through a Public Service Obligation (“PSO”) levy, and a disastrous diversion of investment which could have gone into energy efficiency, decarbonisation and alternative sustainable employment in the Midlands.

This resulted in the ESB obtaining Government support for the development of two new peat power plants at Lanesborough and Shannonbridge. Both applications were approved by the two relevant local authorities and by An Bord Pleanala (“ABP”) following an appeal by An Taisce.

However the basis on which the Board granted permission for the two plants was subsequently ruled to be in breach of the Environment Impact Assessment (“EIA”) Directive1 in the High Court case taken on the extended operation of the peat and biomass co-firing plant at Edenderry, Co. Offaly in 2015, which found that the decision failed to assess the impact of the peat extraction required to serve the feeding of the combustion plant.

The meeting of Paris Agreement climate targets is going to leave the major part of global fossil energy extraction, transportation and combustion infrastructure a valueless stranded asset. The Lanesborough plant should now be classified a failed investment asset, where there is no sustainable basis for continued peat burning, and where immediate or phased conversion to open combustion biomass does not stand up to sustainability evaluation either in efficient electricity generation and resource use, or sustainable import or national biomass supply.

Paris Agreement compliance will require transboundary carbon pollution accounting from all carbon dioxide and GHG emissions, including those from the cultivating, harvesting, transporting and the burning of biomass. Consent therefore willl need to be limited to:

  • Biomass projects that meet strict sustainability criteria in sourcing;
  • Show real emission reductions; and
  • Demonstrate that the project is the most optimal and efficient use of a biomass resource in energy return.

Should any biomass project not meet these stated requirements, the project should not be accommodated with grid connection.

Download the submission here.