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20 Jan 2022

Concern that rural Laois council houses may be 'left behind' in retrofits

Concern that rural Laois council houses may be 'left behind' in retrofits

A rural Irish cottage

Single council houses in the Laois countryside could be last on the list for expensive energy retrofits, councillors have suggested.

A total of 157 Laois council houses are approved to get a deep energy retrofit with work already begun in some of them this winter. However they are all in housing estates in towns.

Cllr Paschal McEvoy wants rural houses warmed up too.

"Can we get some rural houses to come in on the list? Some are in an awful state. I can name a few. They need upgrades in a bad bad way," he said.

He spoke at the November meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley questions why estates are being done first.

"I welcome the funding for deep retrofits for council housing, but I support what Paschal said about rural housing. Some are in bad need of upgrades for heating and windows. There is a small waiting list of people for new kitchens, about fifty, but only five are done a year. I know some funds for deep retrofits can be used for maintenance too. They badly need support in rural areas. I ask why the Department wanted to take on estates rather than one-offs. I am afraid rural dwellers will be left behind," she said.

There are about 100 single rural council houses in Laois, Acting Director of Services Angela McEvoy said.

"I am not aware of any funding programme to date for them, but something might come down in the next three years and we will look at promoting our county," she said.

Six housing estates are getting a makeover that includes expensive new electric heat pumps, new windows and doors, flat roof insulation, wall insulation and LED lights. 

Work has started on 62 houses in Mountain View in Portlaoise, in Quigley Park, Rathdowney and Radharc Alainn in Arles. 

Three more estates with 98 homes in Portlaoise, Portarlington and Mountmellick are lined up for works to start next April. They are Hillview, Portlaoise, Derrymore, Portarlington and Kirwan Park, Mountmellick.

Laois County Council was approved for funding under the Midlands Retrofitting Programme. The eligible works must be able to achieve a minimum BER rating of B2.

Meanwhile another 31 council homes in O’Moore Place, Portlaoise are getting a second retrofit scheme in 2022, under the Energy Efficiency Retrofitting & Planned Maintenance Programme. Contracts are due to be signed in by the end of 2021. 

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