I refer to the reply to Question No. 30 on today’s Order Paper (see below). The Government is committed to a just transition in the Midlands region and has dedicated significant funding to supporting workers, companies and communities affected by the closure of the peat-fired power stations and the end of peat harvesting by Bord na Móna.
As part of this commitment, the Just Transition Commissioner was appointed in November 2019 with the mandate to engage with those affected by the accelerated exit from peat for electricity generation, and to recommend to Government the essential elements of a just transition for those workers and communities. The Commissioner has made an important contribution to the Government's overall just transition response in the region, helping to facilitate dialogue, and bringing forward concerns from affected communities, residents, workers, and businesses.
The Government has responded to the Commissioner’s recommendations by publishing an Implementation Plan for the Midlands Region, as part of the 2021 Climate Action Plan. The key responsibilities, steps and timelines to deliver the actions under this Implementation Plan will shortly be published as part of the Annex of Actions to the Climate Action Plan.
I have had various engagements with the Commissioner during 2021, most recently in July in a meeting with both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste. We have discussed a range of matters including the Department’s proposed response to the Commissioner’s recommendations in his progress reports, progress with the delivery of funding into the region, and the Commissioner’s work for the remainder of 2021. In addition, the work of the Commissioner continues to be supported by my Department on an ongoing basis.
As I have noted previously, given the significant progress that has already been achieved, the Government does not propose to continue the Commissioner's term beyond the end of his current mandate which concludes at the end of this year. I look forward to receiving the Commissioner’s final report and recommendations and being further briefed by the Commissioner at that stage.
The Midlands Regional Transition Team, which is convened by the Midlands Local Authorities, continues to provide an important forum for the Local Authorities, State Agencies and others to coordinate their ongoing work and to engage with Government in relation to just transition in the region. My Department will continue to engage with and support the work of this group into the future as the Midlands Implementation Plan is delivered.