Government approval of Just Transition Fund plan for Midlands welcomed
I welcome Cabinets sign-off today on a €169 million fund for Midlands counties. The fund will support those counties and workers most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy.
Government’s approval of the finalised Just Transition Fund plan as a significant step for the Midlands along the journey to a low carbon economy. The overall investment in the Midlands will be worth almost €169 million, co-funded equally by the EU and the exchequer.
I have fought hard at Cabinet for investment in the Midlands since this Government took office, so I am delighted that today we have signed off on our EU Just Transition Fund plan to support those counties and workers most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy.
We know we have to change the way we do things, but we will only do it by supporting our communities, and this package of just under €169 million will give the people of the Midlands the backing we need to play our part in the transition to a more sustainable society and economy.
Today’s Cabinet decision allows for Ireland’s Just Transition Fund to be submitted to the European Commission for final approval, which is expected to happen before the end of 2022.
The plan includes funding for a Centre of Excellence which will pioneer new research in reducing emissions from organic soils, through working with farmers at a catchment level to test new ways of sustainable land management on peat soils.
Significant funding will also be made available through a new grants scheme to support the implementation of bottom-up local and regional economic strategies, enabling businesses to create new jobs in green and low carbon sectors.
Tourism will have a major role in the Just Transition Fund, with new tourism trails providing sustainable recreational, economic, reskilling and employment opportunities supports for the Midlands, as well as funding being made available for new and existing businesses working on tourism, outdoor and recreation amenities in the Midlands.
Speaking following today's announcement, my colleague Minister Eamon Ryan said:
“The Government is committed to a just transition in the Midlands region, to ensure that no one is left behind as we move away from fossils fuels to a new, carbon-neutral and sustainable future. We are allocating significant, dedicated funding to support workers, companies and communities affected by the closure of the peat-fired power stations and the end of peat harvesting.”
Today is a hugely exciting day for Laois-Offaly and indeed for all of the Midlands. Those of us living in the Midlands know the potential of the region, and now Government is providing the funding to help us unlock that potential.
The Midlands can be a hub for excellence in agriculture, for grassroots local involvement in the transition to a greener economy, and for sustainable tourism. Today Government has put the funding in place to make this vision a reality.