Kenagh, Co. Longford, 28 April 2023 – Irish communities have the potential to ‘reimagine and transform’ themselves after the ending of commercial peat production and peat-fired power generation.
Cllr Robert Power, Cathaoirleach of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA), made the comments at the launch of the Programme for the EU Just Transition Fund, which will be managed by the EMRA.
The new EU Just Transition Fund (JTF), worth up to €169 million, will support economic development in regions most negatively affected by the ending of commercial peat extraction and peat-based energy production as part of Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Programme was launched on 28th April 2023 by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Minister Eamon Ryan at the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre in Kenagh, Co Longford. Longford is one of several counties including Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Roscommon, and parts of Galway, Kildare and Tipperary, which form the EU JTF Territory.
Also in attendance were Sofia Alves, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio); Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for EU affairs, Peter Burke T.D.; Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett; Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with special responsibility for heritage and electoral reform, Malcolm Noonan T.D.; Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with special responsibility for disability, Anne Rabbitte T.D.; and Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for International Development and Diaspora, Sean Fleming T.D.
The EU JTF will facilitate projects and initiatives which help address the adverse social, economic and environmental effects of the climate transition for regions previously reliant on fossil fuels. It also sets out Ireland’s investment strategy for the funding, with up to €84.5 million financed by the EU matched by up to €84.5 million from the Government of Ireland. The plans and targets are in accordance with the Government’s National Climate Action Plan and the European Green Deal.
EMRA was appointed as Managing Authority of the Fund in December 2021. Since then, EMRA has been working alongside the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communication (DECC) to produce the integrated programme that will deliver the Fund.
The Programme will focus on three strategic priorities for investment. These are:
- Generating employment by investing in the diversification of the local economy
- Supporting the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded peatlands and regeneration and repurposing of industrial heritage assets
- Providing smart and sustainable mobility options to enable local communities to benefit directly from the green transition.
Between now and 2027, a range of initiatives will be supported, and several funding calls will be run for different types of organisations. Beneficiaries of the fund will include micro-enterprises, SMEs, research institutions, local authorities, and community organisations. First funding calls will be launched soon with others to follow soon. Delivery bodies who will help implement the funding will include the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Transport with the National Transport Authority and Zero Electric Vehicles Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, National Parks & Wildlife Service, and Pobal.
“The Just Transition Fund is a key driver of the European Green Deal, which pushes the green transition towards more inclusive and innovative accomplishments. We are moving away from peat and other fossil fuels in the Midlands because people once dependent on them deserve a reshaped future with new prospects. A total of 169 million euros will kick-start this process through local initiatives.”~ Sofia Alves, Director at the DG Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio), European Commission
Learn more about the EU Just Transition Fund.