Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD has announced two funding allocations for the Just Transition programme in the Midlands.
They are designed to assist communities transitioning out of peat harvesting and into a new, green, and sustainable economy.
The cabinet, today, approved funding of €108m for Bord na Móna’s large-scale peatlands restoration project.
The plan will protect the storage of 100m tonnes of carbon, sequester 3.2m tonnes of carbon out to 2050, enhance biodiversity, create 350 jobs, and contribute to Ireland’s target of being carbon-neutral by 2050.
The funding, which will come from the Climate Action Fund, will be bolstered by an €18m investment from Bord na Móna.
Many of those employed in this project will be former peat harvesters who have an intimate knowledge and long history of working on bogs.
€27.8m for 47 projects
Furthermore, provisional offers of funding, totaling €27.8m, have been made today to 47 projects in the midlands under the Just Transition Fund.
The projects represent innovative and inspiring plans from businesses, local authorities and communities in the midlands who are committed to creating a green and sustainable economy for the region.
This dedication from the community and targeted support will make the region an attractive and sustainable place to live and work. It will fund training and reskilling so local businesses and communities can adjust to a low-carbon transition.
The successful projects, offered funding greater than €100k each, include:
- The Empower Eco project which intends to deliver enterprise opportunities through the innovation hub in Lough Boora. The project’s ultimate goal is to mobilise the Midland’s next generation of green-enterprise innovators and stimulate regional job creation.
- The Bord na Móna Medicinal Herbs Project, where Bord na Móna will become a supplier of certified organic, ethically, and sustainably-produced ingredients to herbal, cosmetic, food and beverage companies worldwide. The project has the potential to sustain up to 105 direct jobs and create a prominent industry for medicinal herbs in the Midlands region;
- A project to build a Further Education and Training Digital Learning Hub on the LWETB Longford campus. The hub will encompass an online test centre, classrooms, and practical workshop spaces. The hub will be used by learners in the wider Midland region to undertake skills programmes. This will lead to specialisations in ICT, horticulture, aquaculture, construction and manufacturing.
‘Custodians of bogs’
Minister Ryan described the decision to commit €108m in funding to the bog rehabilitation scheme as a “major milestone”
“The potential of our boglands to capture and store millions of tonnes of carbon over the years is phenomenal. Bog rehabilitation and remediation is a wonderful example of Just Transition in action, where workers who previously harvested peat for power generation will now be the custodians of our bogs.”
Boost the economy
Just Transition Commissioner, Kieran Mulvey commented: “Every funded project will play a key role in the Midlands successfully adapting to a Just Transition while also benefitting communities and individuals most affected by the move away from peat-harvesting.”
“These innovative projects include sustainable retrofitting activities and carbon-neutral growing initiatives. The establishment of regional business hubs, supporting local business development and green enterprises, tourism, heritage and active mobility projects, re-skilling, and training initiatives.”
“All these projects have the ability to transform the Midland region and its communities. They will bring new, innovative, green energy enterprises with the potential to boost the economy of the region and create jobs.”
Capture carbon and deliver significant wins
Bord na Móna Chief Executive Tom Donnellan said: “This is a major win for Ireland’s progress on climate action. Peatlands only cover 3% of the earth’s surface but hold 30% of all the carbon stored on land.”
“They have a unique natural power to capture carbon and deliver significant wins for us and for future generations. Bord na Móna’s new Peatlands Restoration Plan will work with nature to make this happen and will demonstrate its leadership role in climate action, delivering on government policy and national decarbonisation objectives.”