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Irish Budget boosts housing and green infrastructure

Words: Roger Milne
Euros / Shutterstock_194311094

The Republic's latest budget, unveiled this week, will see spending on housing and green infrastructure boosted, as well as expenditure to make the country’s housing and building stock more energy efficient. Tourism and rural development will also enjoy extra help, while peatland restoration and tree planting are set to rise.

A total of €5.2 billion is being allocated to housing – an increase of €773 million over 2020. Extra capital expenditure of €500 million will be targeted on constructing 9,500 new social housing units in 2021. The expectation is that 12,750 units will be added to the social housing stock, including leased units.

Just over €350 million is being split between existing initiatives like the serviced sites fund, the local infrastructure housing activation fund, rebuilding Ireland home loans and the Land Development Agency.

An allocation of €146 million (€29 million more than in 2019) will be used to upgrade 24,000 homes and businesses. This is a nearly threefold increase on 2016 funding.

A new retrofitting model will deliver upgrades to large groups of houses at the same time. This will begin with a programme targeting social houses in the Midlands.

There will be funding of €132 million for the National Broadband Plan.

A sum of €5 million has been allocated for the restoration of 1,800 hectares of bog land in seven counties.

A number of long-awaited road projects have been allocated funding to ensure that they proceed as planned next year. The biggest projects to get support over the coming year are the N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin stretch in Sligo; the N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom upgrade; the N5 between Westport and Turlough; the N56 Dungloe to Glenties route; and the Dunkettle Interchange upgrade in Cork that connects the M8, N40 and N25.

Spending is also pledged for BusConnects, MetroLink and the Dart expansion programme so that all three can be ready to apply for planning permission next year.

More rail electrification is planned while 200 hybrid electric buses are likely to be bought. Extra spending on electric vehicle-charging infrastructure is pledged as well extra help for taxi drivers to buy electric cars.

Major emphasis is being placed on the low-tech transport options, with 200 walking and cycling routes to be developed, linking suburbs with town centres and towns with other towns.

Support will increase for a number of long-route greenway projects that are now at design stage.

The 11 projects getting a funding boost over the coming year include: the Royal Canal cycling scheme, the Clontarf to Dublin city centre scheme, the extension of the Grand Canal greenway in Offaly and refurbishment of the Great Southern Greenway in Limerick.

Separately,  €10 million has been allocated to the IDA to develop advanced factories and industrial estates for companies seeking to invest in Ireland, especially outside of Dublin.

Funding for rural regeneration is set to increase with  €2 million extra to fund masterplans for up to 50 town centres plus an additional €2 million for greenways, blueways, trails and other amenities. About €250,000 will also be spent on a National Land Use Review .

In addition, £500 million is being made available up to 2025 under the Shared Island Fund, partly for key cross-border infrastructure initiatives.

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