Ballaghurt Bog, Co Offaly is located in Bord na Móna’s heartland and is typical of its energy peat production bogs. Ballaghurt illustrates our ongoing journey from sustaining local communities and the rural economy, to environmental sustainability, and the creation of a new home within the Irish landscape for biodiversity and wilderness.
The decision to develop and drain Ballaghurt bog was made over 40 years ago in the early 1970s at a time of economic difficulties, high unemployment and high energy costs. The drainage of the bog to bring it into full production took 5 years and was completed in 1979.
Ballaghurt bog quickly became an important contributor to the local Midlands economy and to the security of Ireland’s energy supply, producing milled peat for the ESB power generation station at Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly. For the past 36 years it has continued to produce peat for energy, reducing Ireland’s dependency on imported energy, and providing much needed employment in the area.
After supplying peat for 36 years, the remaining woody fen peat is under the influence of minerotrophic waters and restoration of the bog to its original pristine condition is no longer possible. However, after harvesting the remaining peat layers the creation of a landscape of acidic wetlands and native woodlands will be possible. In the same way it was possible to rehabilitate Boora’s cutaway production bogs to create the post-production peatlands of Lough Boora Discovery Park.
Meanwhile, Ballaghurt bog has the capacity to continue supplying peat for electricity generation for a further 15 years, generating local employment, economic wealth, and contributing to Ireland’s security of energy supply. At the same time, co-firing peat with biomass in the destination power plants offers the opportunity to lower carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated to levels of a comparable gas-fired power plant.