The ESB has confirmed that a midlands power station closed on environmental grounds three months ago is to be re-fired in the early hours of tomorrow.

Seventy Bord na Móna workers lost their jobs when the Lough Ree power plant in Longford closed in July after the Environmental Protection Agency said it was prosecuting the station for discharging hot water into the River Shannon.

It is understood a change in climate conditions on the river has now allowed operations to recommence at the generating unit in Lanesborough, but major concerns have still been expressed over the future of the plant and 800 Bord na Móna jobs in the midlands.

After a decision by An Bord Pleanála last month to refuse planning permission for the ESB to burn biomass at the west Offaly power station in Shannonbridge, Fianna Fáil TDs have said the inclusion of funding for job creation in the midlands in the forthcoming budget must now be a priority.

The party is believed to be negotiating with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe that a percentage of Exchequer finances raised by the new carbon tax would be ring-fenced for green initiatives in the areas where Bord na Móna workers are losing their jobs.

This weekend, community leaders in Longford and Roscommon have been brainstorming with local agencies in a bid to generate new employment initiatives in the region.

Longford and Roscommon county council officials arranged a "think-tank" with the Lanesborough-Ballyleague collaboration group, to bring forward ideas for alternative enterprises after peat stocks run out next year.

The former environment minister Denis Naughten has said the ESB must also reapply for planning to burn biomass at both power stations and come up with a viable plan to grow more trees in the local region instead of sourcing them abroad.

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