24 July 2020
The July Stimulus package provides the State with a “real opportunity” to make fundamental changes to the transport sector, the Minister for Climate Action has said.
The €7.4 billion post-covid recovery package has allocated €250 million for climate initiatives with investments set to be made in transport and energy efficiency.
€40 and €42 million have been squared away for pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure respectively, and a further €21 million has been earmarked for rail.
€10 million has been allocated to adapt roads to the effects of climate change, which according to the Department of Climate Action, “inlcudes repairs to damaged roads as a result of severe weather events”.
€2 million will go towards establishing and expanding local bus services and €250,000 will be put towards transitioning local link vehicles to zero-emission alternatives in rural parts of the country.
The package, Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks, Transport Eamon Ryan said, demonstrates the Programme for Government’s commitment to “a fundamental change in the nature of transport in Ireland”.
“This is the start of what I intend to be a continuing programme of investment over the lifetime of this Government,” Minister Ryan said in his announcement.
The plan also appears to make no commitment to a bailout of the aviation industry, which is line with calls from environmental organisations across the EU.
Job creation for green sectors
The July Stimulus has also committed to add €100 million to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) budget in 2021, and will earmark the additional funds for retrofitting.
The details of these new and developing retrofitting schemes are expected to be announced next month.
In order to meet the Programme for Government target of 500,000 retrofitted homes within the decade, Minister Ryan announced that the Department of Education will allocate €500,000 in programme seed funding for reskilling and activation courses set to be rolled out in 2021.
The stimulus package also committed to finalising the new Apprenticeship Action Plan before year end and Minister Ryan said he expected “a strong focus” on the retrofitting sector in the Plan.
€15 million has also been put aside for a multi-year rehabilitation of 33,000 hectares of Bord na Mona peatlands.
Creating jobs that tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis while simultaneously improving quality of life for communities is “key”, Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth Ireland said in reaction to the plan.
“The plans for re-wetting bogs, retrofitting homes to make them warmer and without fossil fuels, and of course the huge promotion in walking and cycling facilities is very welcome in this stimulus package,” she added.