Fine Gael Senator Micheál Carrigy
"The first progress report on Just Transition demonstrates Fine Gael’s commitment to creating sustainable job opportunities in the Midlands region as we act on climate change," Senator Micheál Carrigy has said.
Welcoming the report from Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey, the Longford-Westmeath representative said he hoped it would provide reassurance to workers in the Midlands affected by the impact of the exit from peat harvesting.
Senator Carrigy said, “We need to get the balance right in cutting our reliance on fossil fuels and having a more sustainable economy while at the same time protecting workers, families and communities that have relied on the current business model to date.
“Just Transition has been at the heart of the Government’s Climate Action Plan and was a key component of our party’s election manifesto, as it identifies the need to plan appropriately to ensure those most affected by our transition to a low-carbon society are supported and equipped to deal with this change.
“The need for action was once again highlighted in November following ESB’s announcement it would be closing its power plants in Shannonbridge and Lanesboro.
“My colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton appointed Kieran Mulvey as Just Transition Commissioner in November to engage with relevant stakeholders in the Midlands region and he has now made recommendations across a number of areas.
“Work is already underway to deal with the challenges facing Bord na Móna, its workers and other businesses due to the phasing-out of peat and coal for electricity generation.
“Measures already introduced by the Government to achieve a just transition include:
€11m Just Transition Fund targeted at the Midlands will support retraining and reskilling workers and assist local communities and businesses in the midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition.
€5m for bog restoration and rehabilitation scheme which will restore non- Bord na Móna bogs to their natural habitat. This programme will support the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to restore 1,800 hectares of bog in 7 counties, resulting in 28m tonnes of carbon stored over the next 5 years.
A €20m Midlands Retrofitting Scheme to deliver a new model to group housing upgrades together as set out in the Climate Action Plan.
Ireland is engaging with the European Union to secure an investment in the midlands under the Just Transition Mechanism as part of the Green New Deal.
“On foot of Mr Mulvey’s recommendations, a detailed implementation plan will be completed as soon possible with some urgent actions taken before then, which I strongly welcome.
“Minister Bruton has also launched the first call for proposals under the €11m Just Transition Fund. There are five key priorities for the Fund, including retraining workers and proposals to generate sustainable employment in green enterprise in the region and I would strongly encourage those interested to apply,” Senator Carrigy said.
Stage 1 of accessing the Just Transition Fund is to register your project with the Midlands Regional Transition Team and START (Secretariat Technical Assistance to Regions in Transition). More information will be available on: www.midlandsireland.ie”