Peat being harvested on a Bord na Móna bog has come to an end now the compensation for its loss has taken a step forward
Public views are being sought in Longford and other counties on a long promised plan that could deliver nearly €85 million in development funding to the midlands that have been hit by the ending of peat production.
The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communication, Eamon Ryan, has launched a public consultation on a draft of Ireland’s Territorial Just Transition Plan, in partnership with the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly.
Just days after Laois Offaly TD Carol Nolan said the plan's publication was like Waiting for Godot, Minister Ryan's Department has published the draft plan which has seen €84.5 million allocated to Ireland under the EU Just Transition Fund over the period to 2027.
The Fund must be complemented with national resources and in Ireland the national co-funding rate will be between 30% to 50%. There are also specific rules in relation to the timing of expenditure and on eligible costs that may be supported by the Fund.
This public consultation is asking for stakeholders’ views on the transition process and the draft plan which, when finalised, will be submitted to the European Commission for approval. The consultation invites stakeholders to complete an online survey and to attend online workshops.
There will be two online workshops on January 18 and 25 for in-depth discussions on priorities for the EU Just Transition Fund. A third online workshop, for young people in the region, is being organised with national youth representative organisations to ensure that people impacted have the opportunity to shape the plan. There will also be specific information sessions for Oireachtas members, as well as relevant local authorities and their members.
The Department says views are views of individuals, communities, businesses, and representative bodies are particularly sought in the wider Midlands region of east Galway, north Tipperary, Longford, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, west Kildare and Roscommon.
A statement announcing the consultation says the EU Just Transition Fund will support the goals of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan and its objectives, in relation to providing a just transition in the wider Midlands region. This is in response to the ending of peat extraction for electricity generation.
Minister Ryan's Department says analysis for the draft Territorial Just Transition Plan builds on extensive analysis and public engagement already undertaken. This considered the development needs of the region, including for the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Eastern and Midland Region.
It identified the following proposed key development needs for the wider Midlands region, based on the scope of support from the EU Just Transition Fund:
Commenting on publication, Minister Ryan, said:
“This Government is committed to a just transition for the Midlands region and has dedicated significant funding to support workers, companies and communities following the early closure, in 2020, of the peat-fired power stations and the ending of peat extraction to supply these power stations.
“I am pleased to launch this public consultation on our draft Territorial Just Transition Plan, which is a significant step in helping to deliver further significant funding to the region, with support from the EU Just Transition Fund. I look forward to hearing peoples’ views on the draft plan. This will inform the final plan, which we will submit to the European Commission.
“I am also pleased to announce that I have decided to appoint the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) as the Managing Authority to deliver this funding. The EMRA is the key statutory body representing the development needs of the region. It is extremely well placed, through its statutory functions and working in close cooperation with my Department and the other bodies administering EU funds in Ireland, to deliver EU just transition funding into the region,” he said.
Laois Offaly Minister of State Pippa Hackett encouraged people to engage.
“The Midlands deserves to be front and centre for EU Just Transition funding and this move by my colleague Minister Eamon Ryan is a step in that direction. Up to €84m is coming to Ireland and the Midlands is being prioritised for investment. It will create jobs, modernise business, and attract people into our towns.
"I would urge people with ideas for spending to join the online workshops on January 18 and 25. We will be having special session for young people at a later date. This is really positive announcement for the region,” she said.
The consultation is open until the 14th February 2022.
The draft Territorial Just Transition Plan and consultation survey are available HERE.
A report summarising the responses received will be made available online after the consultation period.
The Department says the EU Just Transition Fund (EU JTF) is a newly established fund under the framework of EU cohesion policy and is being rolled out in all EU Member States. The Fund is governed by the EU Just Transition Fund Regulation (Regulation 2021/1056) and the EU Common Provisions Regulation (Regulation 2021/1060), which set out common rules for all EU cohesion policy funds. These regulations were adopted in June 2021.
The Just Transition Fund is designed to assist communities across Europe to meet the challenges of the green transition, in line with the objective of achieving EU climate neutrality by 2050 in an effective and fair manner – ensuring that nobody is left behind.
Member States must therefore concentrate the proposed investments in their territorial just transition plans on specific regions or parts of regions and justify the selection of those regions based on the economic and social impacts resulting from the transition, in particular with regard to job losses.
The wider Midlands region has been proposed as the territory for investment under the draft Territorial Just Transition Plan. This region comprises East Galway, North Tipperary, Longford, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, West Kildare and Roscommon.
Territorial Just Transition Plans must address a number of areas, including:
The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has overall policy responsibility for the EU Just Transition Fund in Ireland. The Department will be supported by the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA), which will be the Managing Authority – a requirement of the EU funds management system.
The Managing Authority is a key function within the overall architecture for the delivery of the funds and the EMRA will play a critical role in the development and ongoing management of Ireland’s JTF Programme for the forthcoming programme period, as prescribed by the EU Common Provisions Regulation. Other bodies may be selected by the Government to deliver specific elements of the territorial plan and programme.
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