Bord na Móna has announced redeployment opportunities for up to 200 of its workers, as well as the creation of up to 150 indirect construction jobs, as part of its strategy to move the company away from traditional peat-based activities.
The redeployment opportunities arise from its decision, agreed by the board of the company today, to embark on an accelerated programme of rehabilitation of bogs in the midlands.
The State-owned company will also expand employment in its waste recycling and its new green business projects.
In addition, it is to re-open its existing voluntary redundancy scheme, which was substantially oversubscribed when announced last year.
It is expected that between 150 and 180 workers could apply to avail of the voluntary redundancy scheme.
This is on top of 400 workers who have already left through the scheme.
The company said the continuation of the voluntary redundancy scheme would accommodate those within Bord na Móna who wish to pursue new careers or educational opportunities.
It said it would also provide comprehensive training and supports for all involved in the transition.
The company has also announced that it has reached an agreement with ESB that the two peat powered electricity plants in the midlands, one at west Offaly in Shannonbridge, and the other at Lanesborough on Lough Ree, will continue to operate until the end of 2020.
There had been fears that both plants may have had to stop operating from the end of this year when the State subsidy for burning peat would come to an end.
Today's announcement by Bord na Móna will come as a relief to many workers who had been braced to hear about significant job losses.
Confirmation of the additional year for the operation of both peat powered electricity plants will provide more time for the company and other organisations to ensure a just transition for workers in the midlands who are losing their jobs as a result of decisions related to tackling climate change.
Bord Na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan said that by 2025 80% of Bord na Móna employment and revenue will be derived from green, low-carbon and sustainable businesses.
Mr Donnellan said that this phase of the company's plan would see a significant part of the workforce migrate into peatland rehabilitation and other opportunities as the volume of peat burned at ESB power stations reduces and peat-related activities are scaled back.
He said the deep peatland rehabilitation programme the company was about to embark on would be the biggest such programme ever undertaken and was a programme of international significance.
It will also result in significant benefits in terms of biodiversity, carbon emissions mitigation, and carbon sequestration.
Speaking following the board meeting at the company's headquarters in Newbridge, Co Kildare, this afternoon, Mr Donnellan said that Bord na Móna was at the forefront of climate action in Ireland and was uniquely placed to help Ireland realise its climate action goals.
Bord na Móna is planning to invest over €1.5bn in renewable energy development to support Ireland's 70% renewable energy target for electricity and create up to 150 indirect construction jobs.
The first part of this aspect of its plan will be delivered in November when the €180m Oweninny wind farm in Co Mayo becomes fully operational.
The company is also planning to invest over €60m in waste recycling and resource recovery to create approximately 100 jobs.
An additional €20m is being invested in new green business projects that have the potential to create between 150 and 300 jobs over the next five years.