Ireland’s necessary transition away from carbon-intensive sources of energy, towards more sustainable, renewable energy sources, will have a significant impact on the workers in these carbon-intensive sectors, their families, and communities. Government has committed to delivering a whole of Government approach, and to working with local stakeholders, to ensuring that a just transition is provided to those impacted by this transition. Budget 2020 includes a number of measures that will form part of the Governments approach to supporting a Just Transition. They include:
- €6 million for a Just Transition Fund;
- €5 million for bog restoration and rehabilitation; and
- €20 million to deliver new model to group housing upgrades.
These measures will be immediately targeted at the Midlands and will support retraining and reskilling workers and assist local communities and businesses in the Midlands to adjust to the low carbon transition. There will be further engagement with local stakeholders on the application of the funding.
I understand that, following extensive engagement between ESB, the staff at Moneypoint and their trade unions, staff have accepted a proposal relating to the reconfiguration of the station based on a new lower running regime. This proposal was accepted in a staff ballot which concluded on 4 October. This is a positive step in retaining an on-going operation in Moneypoint. ESB will continue to work with staff and their representatives to implement the agreement in a collaborative way to face the challenges ahead.
I can assure the Deputy that ESB remains committed to Moneypoint and, in line with its Brighter Future strategy and Government decarbonisation policy, the Company is currently examining technology options for the plant that will deliver large-scale, low-carbon electricity generation, fuel diversity, and security of supply, after generation from coal ceases no later than 2025.
The agencies of the State will support workers affected through their services and I am open to receiving submissions from regional stakeholders on remaining challenges which might need support in the context of just transition.