Midlands to receive €169m to transition away from fossil fuels

30 Nov 2022

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD. Image: Julien Behal Photography

The funding aims to address the impacts that come with the move away from peat production, by creating new employment options and alleviating economic effects.

Ireland’s Government has approved the use of EU funding to support the midlands as the country moves away from fuels such as peat.

Under a new plan, €169m will be used over the coming decade to create new green jobs, restore damaged peatlands and alleviate economic impacts that come from a transition to climate neutrality.

In particular, the fund aims to address the impacts of moving away from peat production and electricity generation from peat. It aims to diversify the economy to create employment for former peat communities.

The funding will come from the EU’s Just Transition Fund, which aims to support communities in Europe that are most negatively affected by climate transitions. Half the funding will come from the EU, with Ireland matching this using Exchequer resources.

The locations set to benefit from this funding are east Galway, Kildare, Laois, Longford, north Tipperary, Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, said the funding aims to ensure “no one is left behind” as Ireland moves toward a “carbon-neutral and sustainable future”.

“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,” Ryan said.

“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.”

The plan includes funding for a centre of excellence, which will research new ways to reduce emissions from organic soils by working with farmers to test new forms of sustainable land management on peat soils.

Ryan said there are also plans to transform public transport in the region, through the electrification of Rural Link services, commercial bus services and “EV destination charging infrastructure”.

The Just Transition Fund backing must be approved by both the Government and the European Commission. Formal approval by the Commission is expected before the end the year, and further details on the EU programme will be available in early 2023.

Ireland was recently ranked joint lowest of 13 European countries in terms of readiness to make a renewable energy transition. The low performance was linked to a failure to allow low carbon projects to connect to the national grid and poor EV charging infrastructure.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic