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14th August 2019 | Climate Change, Energy, Housing, Jobs, Press Releases

Cutting the retrofit programme makes a mockery of Government climate commitments: Greens

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The Green Party has called on Government to make funding available to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) so that it can continue to fund energy upgrades of existing buildings. The call comes in response to SEAI informing applicants that it is suspending the scheme, as well as consideration of applications for funding previously received.

Ciarán Cuffe, Green Party MEP for Dublin, said: “This is a slap in the face for those who are making the effort to improve the energy rating of their homes. People have already invested in applying for the scheme and now are being told the money has run out. Coming months after the Government launched its Climate Action Plan, it makes a mockery of any attempts by Minister Richard Bruton to take climate change seriously.

“Back in January the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said, ‘Over the course of 2019 Fine Gael in Government will put in place the building blocks so that we can meet our 2030 targets and become a global leader on climate action’. This announcement by the SEAI makes a mockery of his words.

“The Government must now sit down with the SEAI and ensure funding is made available. Seventeen firms were approved to deliver projects under the Deep Retrofit Pilot programme. This is a bleak time for them and their staff.

“We are in a climate emergency Minister Bruton TD and his colleagues must rise to the challenge and ensure that all homes both public and private are brought up to an A energy rating. This will help tackle fuel poverty and reduce Ireland’s runaway greenhouse gas emissions. We have a moral imperative to act.

“If the problem is funding rather than incompetency then the Government should sit down with the European Investment Bank to access low-interest loans to allow the Programme to continue.”

Green Party Councillor Louise Heavin, who was in the process of applying for the grant, commented: “We are in the situation where we have had to completely rethink because we simply won’t be able to afford what we had planned for. To be eligible, you have to upgrade the insulation, the heating system and the air tightness. Without the grant this will now be financially unattainable for huge numbers of people who are now left in limbo, often with structural preparation for the project already begun.”

Cllr Heavin, who is a qualified architect, added: “We are hopeful that this decision is reversed for all those affected and that the scheme is instead extended. Finance needs to be available in some form to help people move towards zero energy homes, we need to think about the future environmental and financial benefits of enabling Ireland to escape the fossil fuel trap.”