€15m fund for peatland rehabilitation announced

The Government has announced €15 million for peatland rehabilitation as part of its July Jobs Stimulus Package.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan has confirmed that the funding will “commence a multi-year programme to rehabilitate 33,000 hectares of Bord na Móna peatlands."

He said the funding would support a just transition by maintaining jobs in the Midlands, as well as laying the foundation for more substantial and sustainable job creation into the future.

“The enhanced rehabilitation scheme will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by significantly increasing the area of wetland habitats in post-production peatlands. This will lower carbon emissions by approximately 6 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year and, in the long-term, create significant carbon sinks.”

The €15m appears to be in addition to a €5m peatland rehabilitation fund announced in Budget 2020.

The new €15m allocation comes in the wake of confirmation that plans by the previous Government to allow the €80m be sourced through the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy – an additional cost levied on consumers electricity bills to help subsidise the Government's national energy policy objectives - have been scuppered.

The four-year plan of €20m annual funding was a key component of the previous Government's Just Transition plan, designed to help the midlands move away from carbon intensive activities

Minister Ryan confirmed in the Dail on Tuesday that the funding of the bog rehabilitation through the application of public service obligation, PSO “fell foul of advice from the Attorney General that it would not be possible under European law”.

It prompted Laois/Offaly Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen to call on the Government to commit to providing €80m over four years for the rehabilitation of peatlands in the midlands.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Eamon Ryan in response stopped short of stating that the the Climate Action Fund would provide the €80m funding - although he did state that the €80m funding was needed.

He said that the climate action fund would not just be for a one-off or an annual project.

In his progress report earlier this year, the Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey said the larger peatlands rehabilitation programme over the coming years was “crucial to the Just Transition process”.

Mr Mulvey also noted that the scheme would require financial support and that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment was, at that stage, engaging with the EU Commission in relation to providing this support through a Public Service Obligation on electricity consumers.