Midlands faces ‘cliff edge’ situation due to shift away from peat use

Funding announced to support retraining of workers affected by decarbonisation moves

The Midlands is facing into ’a cliff edge situation’ due to Ireland getting out of peat production and the use of the fuel in power generation, Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton has acknowledged. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

The Midlands is facing into ’a cliff edge situation’ due to Ireland getting out of peat production and the use of the fuel in power generation, Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton has acknowledged. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

 

The Midlands is facing into “a cliff edge situation” due to Ireland getting out of peat production and the use of the fuel in power generation, Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton has acknowledged.

“I am acutely aware of the impact that moving away from fossil fuels will have on some people,” he said. “Just transition and protecting the most vulnerable is at the heart of the Climate Action Plan. Budget 2020 will support those most affected.”

Mr Bruton said the transition away from peat towards more sustainable renewable energy sources would have a significant impact on not only Bord na Móna workers but also on local communities.

He confirmed he will shortly announce further details of “a comprehensive, all of government response to support the region through the transition”.

The measures announced in the Budget include a €6 million “Just Transition Fund” targeted at the Midlands.

“This funding will support retraining and reskilling workers and assist local communities and businesses in the Midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition.”

A total of €5 million would be spent for bog restoration and rehabilitation “which will restore bogs to their natural habitat and become sinks that absorb carbon”. This programme will support the National Parks and Wildlife Service to restore 1,800 hectares of bog in seven counties, resulting in 28 million tonnes of carbon stored over the next five years. It will create 70 jobs in year one rising to 100 as the programme develops.

A total of €20 million will deliver a new approach to group housing upgrades together to make them energy efficient. Targeted at the Midlands, this will support an estimated 400 jobs directly and indirectly, as well as significantly upgrading the social stock in the region next year.

In addition, Mr Bruton announced “a just transition commissioner” will be appointed shortly. The commissioner will engage with all relevant stakeholders in the Midlands including Bord na Móna, the Midland Regional Transition Team, as well as the National Economic and Social Council.