Plan for €20m smokeless fuel plant in Limerick not going ahead as coal yard set to shut

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

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norma.prendiville@limerickleader.ie

Plan for €20m smokeless fuel plant in Limerick not going ahead as coal yard set to shut

Bord na Móna will not be going ahead with its plan to build a €20m smokeless fuel plant in Limerick

Bord na Móna will not be going ahead with its plan to build a €20m smokeless fuel plant at Foynes in County Limerick and will be closing down its coal yard operation there. 

The company announced its decision to close the yard and cease the importation of bituminous coal earlier this Friday.

It is, the company explained, part of a plan to close all its coal yards at 10 locations around the country, with the loss of 45 jobs.

This decision, a company spokesman said, was being taken ahead of the total nationwide ban on bituminous coal due to come into force in 2019.  

The company’s unexpected decision has led to dismay in Foynes where the €20m biomass and smokeless fuel plant was expected to create up to 100 jobs during construction and at least 59 permanent jobs when operational.

Site clearing work for the plant began last year after the last planning hurdles had been overcome.

When complete, the facility was intended to provide up to 150,000 tonnes of smokeless fuel to the Irish market every year. 

The company was hoping to cash in on an increase in demand for smokeless fuels as a result of the government’s decision to introduce a nationwide Low Smoke Zone this autumn and ban the use of bituminous coal entirely next year. 

Today, however, the company said that “following a commercial review the company has decided not to enter the smokeless coal market” and will not be proceeding with the Foynes plant.

Instead, the company will focus on its solid fuels business i.e. peat briquettes and peat nuggets.

The closure of Foynes will lead to a number of direct redundancies and discussions on the timeline and on severance arrangements are expected to get underway immediately.

But other jobs in stevedoring and transportation could also be affected and the move will put a dent in the annual tonnage through-put  at Foynes port.