A new €55m fund launched by Government on Thursday to help businesses move away from fossil fuel use towards more sustainable and cheaper alternatives is not available to farm businesses, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
The Green Transition Fund launched by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister of State James Browne TD and Senator Pippa Hackett is part of Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), which is funded by the European Union.
Responding to questions from the Irish Farmers Journal, the Department spokesperson said primary agriculture or farming does not fall “within the objectives or scope of this fund”.
However, food processors or those farmers who process or manufacture food products from their own produce will be entitled to apply to the fund. Meat and dairy processors are included in this group.
Explaining the reasons for the exclusion of farmers, the spokesperson said: “The Green Transition Fund is targeted and designed to contribute specifically to the Climate Action Plan 2021 measure of increasing the proportion of carbon-neutral heating in low-temperature manufacturing processes.
“The primary focus of these funds is therefore on helping manufacturing businesses reduce their emissions.
"The available programmes under the Green Transition Fund will be delivered through the enterprise development agencies [including] Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices and Údarás na Gaeltachta.
“Clients of the enterprise development agencies are manufacturing and internationally traded services and primary agriculture (farming) does not therefore fall within the objectives or scope of this fund.”
Plan to reduce fossil fuel use
The first part of the Green Transition Fund - the Climate Planning Fund for Business - is designed to give businesses funding to come up with a personalised plan to identify how best to remove reliance on fossil fuels in their business.
A €1,800 grant to develop a plan and up to €50,000 matched funding to go towards specific capacity building within an enterprise are among the grants available.
The second part of the fund launched on Thursday - the Enterprise Emissions Reduction Investment Fund - will give manufacturing businesses funding to invest in carbon-neutral heating processes, smart metering and energy monitoring, and research and development. Up to €1m is available for businesses to upgrade their processes.
These programmes will run over the next five years. The NRRP was developed by the Government to direct funding under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Ireland is expected to receive more than €900m in grants over the lifetime of the facility.
Agri businesses interested in any aspects of the Green Transition Fund can apply here.
‘Important role to play’
Launching the new fund, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said “businesses have a really important role to play” in climate action.
“However, we need to recognise that, despite the fact we have a higher number of people employed now than in the history of the State, many of our business owners are still getting back on their feet after what has been an incredibly difficult couple of years.
"So, we need to help them when it comes to what is another enormous challenge – reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
“This new €55m fund has two elements, one part to help businesses make a plan particular to their company to give them clarity on what exactly needs to be done, and another part more aimed at our manufacturing industry, investing in more environmental way of doing things.”