Fine Gael will marry real climate action with economic stability and deliver real change according to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton today (Monday).
Minister Bruton made his comments as Fine Gael announced that one third of the €6 billion carbon tax revenue will be ring-fenced for retrofitting should the party be re-elected to government.
An additional €244 million of the proceeds of the carbon tax will be invested to support the transition away from peat burning in the Midlands over the next five years.
Minister Bruton said:
“We will ring-fence one third of the €6 billion carbon tax revenue for retrofitting, meaning a total investment in retrofitting homes to €5.8 billion.
“This will not only reduce the country’s emissions by one third by 2030 but also upgrade 500,000 homes. Fine Gael’s new plan will replace the current ad-hoc retrofitting model and, instead, group homes together, develop easy pay-back models and put smart finance in place (See Note at end)
“Our plan will have a very regional spread, with the initial focus obviously being on the midlands. This will mean that we will be able to build up an expertise in this in the midlands, providing employment opportunities there for the years ahead.”
Fine Gael Roscommon – Galway Candidate, Aisling Dolan, attended the solidarity march at Shannonbridge over the weekend, “I listened to the concerns of workers and their families. Those who work with Bord na Mona and ESB in Shannonbridge come from a wide catchment area and I’m delighted to welcome this additional funding which Fine Gael has committed to supporting them. I met with Minister Bruton in December to discuss potential outcomes in the Midlands. It’s important that immediate employment is provided for these workers and as a member of Galway- Roscommon Education & Training Board, we need to provide courses that will encourage people to upskill in this area. I’m committed to ensuring the Midlands gets consistent investment to ensure sustainable job creation.”
This Just Transition investment is focused on:
· €200 Million for a home upgrade programme. This will upgrade council homes, former Bord na Mona housing estates and private homes under our new National Retrofitting Plan.
· €50 Million Just Transition Fund for retraining opportunities and community development
· €30 Million investment in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for bog and habitat restoration on non-Bord na Mona lands
· €80m repurposed PSO for European Commission Enhanced Peatland Restoration & Rehabilitation scheme
Talks are continuing at EU level to finalise the next EU budget. It is likely that an additional €7.5 billion of EU funding will be made available across the EU to support just transition. It is imperative that the next Irish government is able to negotiate a fair share of this funding for the Midlands. We need to build on our success at EU level last year when we secured the Midlands participation in the EU Coal Regions in Transition.”
Galway County Council is reviewing access to a polling station in Ballinasloe town amid concerns about accessibility. Councillor Aisling Dolan, who is the Fine Gael election candidate for Roscommon – Galway has raised the matter with staff working in the Municipal District offices in Ballinasloe.