Local TD, Denis Naughten has welcomed the allocation of a €169m EU Just Transition Fund for the Midland Counties but cautioned that it is “vital that this funding delivers long term sustainable jobs across the region to replace the jobs lost in both the ESB and Bord na Mona”.
“The closure of the two power stations in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge have had a huge impact on the local economy not just in terms of immediate job losses, but also in terms of the impact that this spending had on the sustainability of many other businesses and communities,” said Denis Naughten.
“That is why it is imperative that this funding is targeted at projects that can deliver long term sustainable employment not just for the existing employees but for their children and the generations to come if we are to ensure that whole communities are not abandoned forever as a result of the closure of the two power stations.”
“It is also imperative that communities are not forced to fundraise for these replacement jobs, as has been the case with the Government run Just Transition Fund, which requires the communities most impacted by the Bord na Mona job losses to raise their own funds to draw down Government support.”
“This practice is unfair and would not be asked of any other community impacted to such an extent by job losses” concluded Denis Naughten
Copy of Ministers press release
Tuesday, 29th November 2022
Minister Ryan secures Cabinet approval to direct significant EU funding to the Midlands region
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan TD has today secured Cabinet approval for significant EU funding to support the Midlands region as Ireland moves away from fossil fuels.
This funding, amounting to nearly €169 million, will come from the EU’s Just Transition Fund. It will be targeted at the region over the coming decade to generate new green jobs, stimulate enterprise, increase sustainable tourism, restore damaged peatlands and alleviate the economic impacts of the transition to climate neutrality.
East Galway, Kildare, Laois, Longford, north Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath will all benefit from the fund, which aims to address the address employment, economic, social and environmental impacts that come with the move away from peat production and electricity generation from peat.
The plan includes funding for a Centre of Excellence, which will pioneer new research in reducing emissions from organic soils by working with farmers to test new ways of sustainable land management on peat soils. It also includes plans to transform public transport in the region.
Ireland has prepared a Territorial Just Transition (JTF) Plan and accompanying programme setting out the activities the fund will support. The wider Midlands region has been identified as the being the area most negatively-affected in Ireland by the closure of peat-reliant power stations.
The EU JTF Programme will focus on:
- generating employment for former peat communities by investing in the diversification of the local economy. The fund will support productive investments in enterprise, SMEs and community actions;
- supporting the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded peatlands and the regeneration and repurposing of industrial heritage assets;
- providing former peat communities with smart and sustainable mobility options to enable them to benefit directly from the green transition.
Minister Ryan said: “The Government is committed to a just transition in the Midlands region, to ensure that no one is left behind as we move away from fossils fuels to a new, carbon-neutral and sustainable future. We are allocating significant, dedicated funding to support workers, companies and communities affected by the closure of the peat-fired power stations and the end of peat harvesting.
“The fund will support a diverse range of innovative projects that will contribute to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the wider Midlands region. They include new enterprise hubs, supporting local business and community development, research and exploratory studies, tourism and heritage projects, development of greenways, and opportunities for education, training and reskilling.
“It will also fund a transformative public transport system, prioritising support towards the electrification of Rural Link services, electrification of commercial bus services and EV destination charging infrastructure, to make the Midlands one of the most attractive places in the country to live and visit.”
The EU JTF Plan and Programme are due to be formally adopted by the European Commission next month. Further details on the Programme will be available in early 2023.
Note on EU Just Transition Fund (JFT) Territorial Just Transition Plan and Programme
The EU Just Transition Fund (JTF) Territorial Just Transition Plan sets out the impacts on the most negatively-affected territory in Ireland as we move away from fossil fuels, and identifies development needs for the territory in order to address these adverse impacts.
The EU JTF Programme sets out the investment priorities and proposed allocation of expenditure to address the negative impacts identified in the programme.
As the EU JTF is under ‘shared management’ (similar to other EU Structural Funds, such as ERDF and ESF+) it must be approved by both the Government and European Commission. Formal approval by the Commission is anticipated before the end of 2022.