No increase for Just Transition Fund despite Mulvey's call
The Government has failed to back a recommendation by Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey that the annual Just Transition funding be significantly increased.
Instead, this week's budget has repeated the €6m allocation from carbon tax funding provided to the Just Transition Fund last year.
In his first progress report published earlier this year, Mulvey said the 2020 budget allocation of €6m from carbon tax funding, which was supplemented by a once-off €5m allocation by the ESB, would “likely be inadequate for the period 2021-2026 to support projects that will generate the level of employment needed in the region”.
He recommended that in 2021, as part of the carbon tax allocation, the Just Transition Fund be increased to €25m.
The fund is designed to retrain workers to assist local communities and businesses in the Midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition and to support proposals for sustainable employment in green enterprise.
Mr Mulvey pointed out that this reflected a €28m package announced earlier last year to offset the potential impact of Brexit.
“A similar stimulus package is necessary for the Midlands as part of future Just Transition Fund provisions,” he said.
In its response at the time of the Just Transition Commissioner's report earlier this year, the Government said: “The progress report makes recommendations in relation to the allocation of future revenues from the Carbon Tax. These recommendations will need to be considered by the Government in the Budget and Estimates process for 2021.”
This week, the Government announced that the carbon tax will be increased by €7.50 a tonne in 2021, yielding an estimated €147m extra funding in a full year.
However, the majority of that extra funding appears to be directed towards improving the energy efficiency of the residential housing stock.
The Government said there would be no change in its funding of the Just Transition Fund from 2020, which, in 2021, will be repeated at €6m.
Meanwhile, the budget includes a new €14m allocation for peatlands restoration and management including the restoration of up to 2,500 hectares of protected raised bogs across the midlands.
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, said the funding will benefit biodiversity, contribute to long-term carbon emission reductions and support up to 70 new jobs and support the commencement of two peatlands LIFE projects.
The €14m allocated in Budget 2021 is separate to €15m funding previously announced for the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications in the July Stimulus to 'commence a multi-year programme to rehabilitate 33,000 hectares of Bord na Mona peatlands'.