An €80m investment in peat restoration in the Midlands region would secure 200 jobs for Bórd na Móna employees, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Welcoming the news that the Government has sought approval from the European Commission for €80 million for enhanced peat restoration in the Midlands Offaly TD, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said, “This is further evidence of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that there is a just transition in the Midlands as the region moves away from its traditional industry.
“Ensuring that there is a just transition for Bórd na Móna workers and their families has been a key priority for me and something I have repeatedly engaged with my Government colleagues on.
“If approved, this investment, over four years, will secure an Enhanced Peatland Restoration & Rehabilitation scheme that will rehabilitate 77,000 hectares of bogs to a high standard so that they can store carbon and promote biodiversity. A green light from the European Commission would allow part of the Public Service Obligation to be repurposed and used to fund the rehabilitation of bogs in the Midlands, resulting in employment for the region and reduced emissions for the country.
“This investment is in addition to €5m that was announced in the Budget.”
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy continued, “As well as helping to protect the economy in the midlands, rehabilitating the bogs of the region will help us in reaching our ambitious targets under the Climate Action Plan.
“This scheme is just one part of the all-of-Government response to the changes coming down the line in the Midlands region.
“Other measures introduced by the Government to achieve a just transition in the Midlands 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 which will restore protected raised bogs including 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. It will create 70 jobs in year one rising to 100 as the programme develops.
€20m to deliver new model to group housing upgrades together as set out in the Climate Action Plan. 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 during 2020.
The government have also appointed Kieran Mulvey as the first Just Transition Commissioner for the region.
“It is very important that we see the activity of the Just Transition Commissioner and all other stakeholders involved ramped up in the New Year. I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that every possible lever is pulled to ensure that we achieve the best results for the Midlands.
“I will continue to advocate on behalf of our local community to ensure that the region is protected as it transitions from brown to green,” Deputy Corcoran Kennedy concluded.