An Taisce has blamed Bord na Móna for the uncertainty surrounding hundreds of jobs in the midlands.

This follows a call from SIPTU for an urgent meeting with Minister for Environment Denis Naughten, to discuss the future of 1,300 jobs at three power plants in counties Offaly and Longford.

The uncertainty arises from a High Court decision last Friday to order the Edenderry peat-fired power plant to cease operations from the end of February 2017, unless a positive decision comes from An Bord Pleanála in the next ten weeks to allow the plant to continue to operate.

Bord Na Móna's original planning permission to burn peat to produce power at Edenderry expired at the end of 2015.

It was extended to 2023 by Offaly County Council on foot of an initial planning application in 2013, which was confirmed by An Bord Pleanála in 2014.

However, a subsequent challenge by An Taisce resulted in a High Court ruling that the Environmental Impact Assessment study considered by An Bord Pleanála had been too narrow.

The court ruled that there is a "functional interdependence" between the Edenderry power plant and the bogs from which it gets its peat but that An Bord Pleanála had not properly considered the environmental consequences of continuing to take peat from the bogs.

Bord na Móna submitted a new application with a much wider Environmental Impact Study, but this time seeking permission to operate until 2030.

The High Court put a stay on its original order for the plant to cease operating pending a new decision about that second planning application by An Bord Pleanála.

However, a year has passed since then but no decision about the matter has come from An Bord Pleanála.

As a result the Edenderry plant has now been operating without planning permission since the start of 2016.

Last Friday, An Taisce went back to the High Court seeking the closure of the plant.

The judge granted a final stay on the execution of his order for the winding down of the Edenderry power plant until 23 February next, to include eight weeks for the orderly wind down of its operation.

About 180 people work for Bord na Móna at the plant and today the trade union representing those workers wrote to Minister Naughten seeking an urgent meeting to discuss their future, and the future of 1,300 other workers at two other peat fired power plant in the midlands whose jobs could also be affected.

SIPTU Sector Organiser John Regan said the continuing uncertainty about the long-term future of the plants is causing immense strain to hundreds of workers and their families.

He said that the closure of the Edenderry plant - run by Edenderry Power Ltd - would lead directly to 250 to 300 job losses and that 1,300 other direct jobs could be at risk while many more people also depend on the BNM operations for their livelihoods.

He added that SIPTU members are confident that BnM does have a viable plan and long term strategy for the plant involving a switch away from peat to biomass.

However, in a statement about the matter, An Taisce said today that is not a "jobs versus environment" story but a question of how Ireland is governed in the public interest .

It said the blame for threatened jobs lies entirely with Bord na Móna for having been found to have been illegally seeking to extend the operating life of the Edenderry plant without environmental assessment and mitigation of the multiple adverse impacts of the extraction of peat to supply the plant.

It accused Bord na Móna of being a "dysfunctional State body" and said it is betraying the people of the midlands and damaging the "green" image of Ireland by pursuing a redundant climate polluting and inefficient power source.

An Taisce said it is Bord na Móna and the successive energy ministers responsible for it since the 1990s who are to blame for not fully switching over to new low carbon energy provision and other new job creation.