01 Jul 2022

Laois Offaly TD questions the credibility of the Just Transition process

Midlands region must work 'constructively and positively together' towards Just Transition

A Laois Offaly TD has  claimed there’s no indication of when the ‘fabled’ €84 million Just Transition fund will arrive. 

Deputy Carol Nolan was speaking in the Dail about the issues facing Laois and Offaly during the move from peat production. The Just Transition fund is supposed to support communities and jobs who would have traditionally relied on peat harvesting for an income and heat.   

However, Deputy Nolan has expressed serious concern about the credibility of the Just Transition process in the midlands. 

“My position on the so called Just Transition has been clear since the process was announced. Indeed, my major concern remains the fact that we are driving employment opportunities into the ground by escalating a process that simply will not and cannot deliver what it promises without significant damage to the local economies particularly in Offaly and Laois,” Deputy Nolan told the Dail.

“I repeated this point in the detailed submission I made to Consultation on the EU Just Transition Fund and the development of a draft Territorial Just Transition Plan in February. I might add here that we are also still no closer to knowing when the fabled €84 million in EU funds will become available.”

She said: “It is also genuinely alarming to witness a Government that cannot seem to get the small things right, and if you cannot get the small things right what hope is there for the bigger picture.”

“For example, in the last fortnight alone Minister Ryan confirmed to me in a PQ[Parliamentary Question] reply that The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is not setting a date or deadline for the timing of the first payment to Micro-generation customers.”

“These are the payments to people who are thoroughly on board with the transition process yet there is still a delay in farmers and families receiving such payments under the Micro-generation Support Scheme (MSS) that was approved by Government in December 2021,” said Deputy Nolan. 

“Then we have the endlessly drawn-out problems associated with afforestation and the seemingly chronic inability to meet annual targets that are not Coillte targets. The private forestry sector is not just stagnant. It is in terminal decline because of this. This is not just devastating for the individual farmers and forestry owners but it’s also damning evidence of Government inability to nourish a sector that is willing and able to play such a vital role in terms of carbon sequestration. It stands ready to help but Government is running it into the ground.”

She said: “I remain unconvinced about the entire rationale for the transition process and the so called need to utterly transform the rural economy based on a calculation of need and urgency that simply does not stand up to serious non-ideologically based scrutiny.”

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