‘Just Transition’ report calls for €25m to be spent locally to help support employment

25 million euro is needed over the next year to help the midlands support employment, according to a new report.

In the first review to help midlands communities transition from fossil to carbon neutral fuels, it recommends the extra money to come from the carbon tax.

The report by Kieran Mulvey also says extra money should go to Offaly and Longford County councils to make up for a shortfall in commercial rates when the Shannonbridge and Laneboro plants close.

According to Mr Mulvey, “the first part of such a plan is to receive and evaluate employment projects in the Midlands that have green enterprise and other employment/tourism potential. This period has to be used also to finalise the critical pathways for the retention of employment in BNM/ESB, give certainty around the future structure of the workforce and to establish further employment opportunities in the region.

“I look forward to continuing to work locally with all the parties involved to achieve and deliver solid and recognisable community gains and to promote the Midlands and its potential”.

Just Transition Fund: The Minister is today launching a first call for proposals for funding from the €11m Just Transition Fund. The Minister has said the fund will have five key priorities, including retraining workers and proposals to generate sustainable employment in green enterprise in the region. Stage 1 of accessing the Just Transition Fund is to register your project with the Midlands Regional Transition Team and START (Secretariat Technical Assistance to Regions in Transition). More information will be available on: www.midlandsireland.ie

• Governance arrangements: The report notes the importance of effective governance in the Midlands to deliver a just transition. The required structures, fully informed by the report’s recommendations, will have to be put in place, which will be done in the context of the detailed implementation plan. The Department will continue to work with the relevant local authorities in the Midlands, other Government Departments and State agencies and the Midlands Regional Transition Team to ensure this happens.

• Use of State Agency Lands in the Midlands for Green Energy Projects: The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment will write to State agencies and enterprises to identify land and facilities which could be of use for such projects.

• Study on Energy Hub in the Midlands: The Department and ESB will commission a study to examine the potential for using the existing infrastructure in the West Offaly and Lough Ree power plants as an Energy Hub in the Midlands.

• Electric Vehicle Charging: The eight Midlands counties are currently served by 98 public Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points provided by ESB. In addition, the Climate Action Fund is supporting a €20 million investment to upgrade electric vehicle infrastructure and to provide new charging points across the country. The Minister has asked for an evaluation study on the potential to further expand the EV charging infrastructure nationally, including the enhancement of the charging network in the Midlands region, to commence immediately.

• Digital Hubs for Remote Working: Under the National Broadband Plan, 91 Broadband Connection Points will be provided in the Midlands over the coming months. These will provide the necessary infrastructure including high- speed broadband to support remote working in the Midlands. It is planned to grow the existing Midlands Network of Co-working facilities, through development of additional facilities/hubs through the region.

The Minister has asked that urgent action be taken on foot of the report’s publication. A detailed implementation plan will be completed as soon as possible, with certain, high priority measures implemented before then.