Bord na Móna confirms it has ended peat extraction

15 January 2021

Bord na Móna has ended all peat extraction on its own land. 

The semi-state company called the announcement a “key milestone in its transformation into Ireland’s leading climate solutions company.” 

Citing progress made over the past two years, Bord na Móna chief executive Tom Donnellan said the body was now in a position to be “fully focused on renewable energy generation, recycling, and the development of other low carbon enterprises”. 

Key benefits of transitioning towards climate action would include sustainable employment and support to national efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, according to Mr Donnellan. 

He said the company’s last full peat extraction took place in 2018, followed by a partial harvest in 2019 and a full suspension of such operations last year. 

Derrinlough briquette factory will however continue to manufacture peat briquettes to 2024 and Kilberry horticulture facility will continue to operate on existing reserves. 

In order to meet its own climate commitments, Bord na Móna has pledged to continue to follow its Brown to Green strategy. 

Actions in this roadmap include developed wind, solar and other assets that could supply approximately one-third of Irish homes with renewable energy. 

The semi-state has also launched a plan to restore drained peatlands with a €115 million investment backing its efforts. 

Abbeyleix Bog, Co Laois Photo: Niall Sargent
Abbeyleix Bog brought back to life by dedicated community Photo: Niall Sargent

Peatlands rehabilitation 

Drained peatlands emit roughly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, just short of the entire energy sector’s emissions in 2018

However, if rewetted, they have the potential to accumulate carbon and become a sink of the warming gas rather than a source. 

Peatlands also provide critical ecosystem services, supporting wide-ranging and unique biodiversity, as well as filtering water and acting as flood protection. 

Speaking before the Climate Action Committee last year, UCD’s Dr Florence Renou-Wilson warned that the impacts of climate change will exacerbate the situation peatlands are facing, as the likes of summer drought become a more frequent occurrence. 

Just last week, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications announced that Ireland will from this year onwards include the emissions and removals from peatlands in its national figures. 

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) made the announcement today and said including managed wetlands in measurements would put the country on a “stronger footing” to meet climate targets. 

“What gets measured gets managed, and this will incentivise us to create more potential for carbon sinks,” Minister Eamon Ryan said last week. 

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Kayle Crosson