Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, has announced a further €24 million for the Midlands region under Ireland’s EU Just Transition Fund (JTF) programme, to provide targeted funding to projects that invest in the development of local communities, create employment and help diversify the local economy.
The new funding, provided under a new Local and Regional Economic Strategies Support Scheme, can help to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future by boosting communities and the economic fabric of the wider Midlands.
Funding of up to €1 million is available for projects to implement ‘Local Economic and Community Plans’ within the Just Transition territory. At the regional level, up to €5 million is available to support strategic flagship projects in alignment with ‘Regional Enterprise Plans’ in the territory. This could include the expansion of education, training or skills programmes or investments in heritage infrastructure across the region, for example.
Commenting on the launch of the new Scheme, Minister Ryan said, “I welcome the launch of this new Local and Regional Economic Strategies Support Scheme, as part of Ireland’s EU Just Transition Fund Programme.” He also adds, “The targeted funding aims to support local economies so that they can thrive and diversify, creating new employment opportunities and accelerating the shift towards more sustainable development. This is about investing in communities and the region as a whole from the bottom-up, almost as seed capital for the enterprise and creativity that exists in every town and village, but which often needs targeted support to be able to flourish. This is also an important opportunity for our partners in the eight Local Authorities, together with other local stakeholders, to contribute to the ongoing development of the Midlands region.”
This Scheme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the EU Just Transition Fund programme. This programme supports projects in the EU Just Transition Fund Territory, consisting of Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Roscommon and the Municipal Districts of Ballinasloe (Co Galway), Athy, Clane-Maynooth, (Co Kildare) and Carrick-on-Suir and Thurles (Co Tipperary).
In this first call, funding of up to €15 million will be available, through Pobal, to projects aligned with the eight Local Economic and Community Plans in the Territory, with a further €9 million available for strategic flagship projects aligned with the relevant Regional Enterprise Plans.
Cathaoirleach of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, Councillor Kate Feeney said, “the launch of this new EU Just Transition Fund Local and Regional Economic Strategies Support Scheme provides a very exciting opportunity. This groundbreaking Scheme brings a much-needed boost to local and regional development strategies in the wider Midland region. This is a local fund for local people that will allow communities in the wider Midlands to realise their locally-grown project ideas to boost the region as a great place to live, work and visit.”
Director of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, Clare Bannon said, “the launch of the Local and Regional Economic Strategies Support Scheme marks a significant milestone for the Regional Assembly and for Local Authorities in the EU Just Transition Territory. The call is the result of close and fruitful collaboration between EMRA as the Managing Authority of the EU JTF, and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications as Member State and Pobal as Intermediate Body to create a new local fund for local people while optimising the opportunities of the climate transition. This scheme will deliver resources to enable locally grown ideas to become a reality.”
CEO of Pobal, Anna Shakespeare said, “Pobal is delighted to work with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly on this exciting and ambitious new scheme. The EU Just Transition Fund Local and Regional Economic Strategies Supports Scheme is a very timely and important initiative to support communities and workers that were heavily dependent on peat production in the wider Midland’s region. This Scheme will support economic, social, and local community development in relevant Local Authority areas through the implementation of development strategies to address the social impacts of the transition to low carbon and green sector employment areas. In light of Ireland’s targets under the Climate Action Plan 2023, we in Pobal recognise the value of this fund and are proud to support it. We look forward to working with all stakeholder organisations in the region to making this Scheme a success.”
A wide range of locally-defined projects are possible under this call, provided that there is alignment with the objectives of the EU Just Transition Fund, and with the Local Economic and Community Plans and the Regional Enterprise Plans, that is:
- Investments in infrastructure that contribute, at a local level, to improving the business and consumer environment
- The expansion of existing, or the implementation of new education, training or skills programmes by relevant educational institutions within the region
- Investments in heritage infrastructure in the region to improve existing built or natural heritage sites, or re-purpose sites from industrial use and
- The delivery of education, skills, and training and the associated social care infrastructure, for the purposes of supporting participation in skills training and employment
This Scheme is being administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly.
Further information on the how to apply for funding is available on the Pobal website.