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Environment Minister Eamon Ryan Leah Farrell via
Not holding back

Fine Gael TD hits out at Eamon Ryan over 'sloppy' rollout of low-cost retrofitting scheme

Alan Farrell suggested he would question the minister when Ryan was “finished planting trees to make up for the carbon emitted on his trip to South America”.

FINE GAEL’S ALAN Farrell has hit out at Environment Minister Eamon Ryan over what he termed the “sloppy” implementation of a low-cost retrofitting scheme. The backbench TD claimed delays to the scheme were undermining the government’s climate action targets.

Some homeowners have complained of been left in limbo due to a vacuum of information about loans available under the scheme or the rules around availing of them.

The scheme was announced in late October and a government press release at the time said it would be launched “early” this year. One householder hoping to avail of the scheme told The Journal she had been banking on it to undertake energy efficient home upgrades.

The scheme, which is to be delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and has the involvement of the European Investment Bank, was to have an open call inviting retail lenders to participate. These lenders have not yet been announced. 

As part of the plan homeowners will be allowed to borrow between €5,000 and €75,000 on an unsecured basis for a term of up to 10 years.

The Dublin Fingal TD made no bones about his thoughts on his coalition colleague’s handling of the matter. Farrell said in emailed comments to The Journal:

“As a member of the Climate Action Committee and as someone who has been discussing the loan scheme since 2022, the delays are sloppy and the scheme’s absence undermines our climate action targets.

Perhaps when Minister Ryan has finished planting trees to make up for the carbon emitted on his trip to South America, I can ask him for you.

Ryan is currently in Brazil as part of government ministers’ St Patrick’s week visits. He tweeted this morning that he was taking part in critical meetings “ahead of the next Climate negotiations at COP30″.

Asked for a response to Farrell’s comments, Ryan said in a statement that the launch of the low-cost retrofitting loan is “only a matter of weeks away”.

He added: 

“This is the first loan of its kind to in Ireland and for the European Investment Bank and a lot of work has happened to bring it to this point.

“There has been really good engagement with the financial institutions participating in the scheme and I expect that we will be announcing the first partners and low rates by the end of the month.”

Tweet by @Eamon Ryan Eamon Ryan / Twitter Eamon Ryan / Twitter / Twitter

‘We’re just pissing everybody off’

The homeowner who raised her concerns about the delays with The Journal, Deirdre O’Sullivan, said she and her partner are in limbo as they continue to wait for details. Their home in Co Clare, which they bought in 2020, is “freezing”. 

“It’s about 12 degrees and then we have the heat on constantly.”

Upon hearing about the low-cost retrofitting scheme, they decided to plan a series of environmentally-friendly upgrades.

These include heating control, new insulation, drylining and solar panels.

Most SEAI grants require successful applicants to use professionals who are registered with the body.

It’s unclear if this is the case with the retrofitting scheme. While the rates at which the loans will be available has also still not been made public, they are promised to be “significantly lower” than what’s on the market currently.

O’Sullivan said that when she contacted the Department of the Environment about the scheme “they didn’t even know what it was”.

“If we knew what was going to happen [...] we could make decisions, but we don’t know what to do. We’re just pissing everybody off.

It’s just shambolic.

Without the low-cost loans, Deirdre simply can’t afford to progress with retrofitting.

In response to a parliamentary question by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore TD in late January, Green Party leader Ryan said the scheme is being finalised “later than I would have liked” but promised that information “is coming very shortly”.

Today, Whitmore said his party is failing to get the basics right.

The Green Party, she said, were “very good at coming out with big promises when it comes to environmental matters – but they are not good at delivering those promises”.

“Many within the government think that people have just wads of cash sitting in the house … that is just not the case.

The fact that we’re four years into this term and a key promise still hasn’t been delivered is just unacceptable.

“I cannot understand why it’s taking so long.”

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