“Substantial concerns” have emerged around the funding and delivery of projects associated with the Just Transition process, according to independent TD Carol Nolan.
The Laois-Offaly TD has written to Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan demanding that he urgently address these concerns.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after having attended a meeting of the Corporate Policy Group of the Offaly County Council regarding the progress on the National and EU actions on the Just Transition Process, stating:
“I want to thank the council officials for organising what was an exceptionally informative meeting.
“Following the meeting we now know that – despite it being almost 12 months since applications were made and six months since the announcement of successful projects – only 30% of the Strand 2 projects [€27.8 million, comprising 47 projects] have received their final offer from the department.”
This means that 70% of Strand 2 projects are not yet finalised and therefore not at contract stage, the TD said.
“From the council’s perspective and indeed my own, these outstanding Strand 2 projects raise substantial questions around the likelihood of delivery
“The council is therefore seeking an extension of drawdown timeframe for the funding to ensure projects are allowed the full three-year timeframe for delivery.”
Claiming that there are also “massive viability concerns” around accessing matching funding, deputy Nolan added:
“This is because the department has informed relevant applicants that, without the secured match funding in place from Offaly County Council, the delivery of these projects cannot commence.
“We also need absolute assurances that Ireland’s Territorial Plan will be submitted to Europe in September 2021,” she said, noting that without this there will not be access to EU funding.
“I have always maintained that so much of the Just Transition process is a triumph of spin over substance – and we are now seeing that in terms of the obstacles around matching funding and the unrealistic demands from the department in this area,” the TD claimed.
Describing the matter as “crippling the local authority rather helping it”, deputy Nolan said:
“This is not what ‘partnership’ looks like and it needs to be called out.
“But if the process is to be driven ahead and pursued then it is critical that communities and projects are not starved of resources and that our focus remains set on creating viable long-term employment opportunities as well as retaining the jobs we already have,” concluded Deputy Nolan.