Bord na Móna Group of Unions secretary, Willie Noone, said: “The news today, that An Bord Pleanála has refused Shannonbridge Power Station in county Offaly a licence to develop a biomass fuel firing system threatens hundreds of jobs in the midlands region.

“It is now highly likely, that due to increasing costs, the ESB may deem the continued operation of Shannonbridge Power Station unviable as early as January 2020, although it does have a licence to continue burning peat until the end of next year. This means that over 300 direct jobs are at risk with hundreds more that indirectly rely on the operation of the power station are also under threat.

“With the future of Lough Ree Power Station in county Longford also on a knife edge the Bord na Móna Group of Unions is calling on Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, to take direct responsibility in finding a solution to a crisis which threatens to economically devastate the midlands.

He added: “The current debacle in relation to the treatment of Bord na Móna workers in Lanesborough, County Longford cannot be allowed to be repeated across the midlands region which is heavily reliant on the power generation industry. It is clear from the hundreds that joined a protest march, yesterday evening, in support of the Lanesborough workers that midland communities are united behind a call for government action.

“A ‘just transition’ does not entail throwing workers off an economic cliff edge with just the promise of a soft landing but little direct action.”