March 26, 2021
“Cosy castles in the sky” retrofitting plan could leave people in cold homes for years – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Climate Action Darren O’Rourke TD today called on the Government to reform their retrofitting rollout plan to ensure people aren’t left living in cold homes for years.

The Meath East said that current plans promise B2-rated upgrades in the distant future, while hundreds of thousands of families living in D-rated or colder homes are unable to access support for minor energy upgrade works.

Teachta O’Rourke said:

“The Government have set a target of retrofitting 500,000 homes to a minimum B2 standard by 2030. This is welcome and is a huge task given the level of work needed on most homes.

“However, under current rules, many people living in cold homes are prevented from accessing improvement grants from the SEAI because they’ve already had some works carried out, in some cases many years ago.

“At a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Climate Committee, Dermot Byrne, Chair Designate of the SEAI, said there were no plans to change this ‘one visit’ rule.

“This is hugely frustrating and will only add to the public’s suspicion that ‘the green agenda’ is all stick and no carrot. It is a case of building castles, albeit cosy castles, in the sky.

“With increasing carbon taxes, utility bills, PSOs and fuel costs, it is simply unacceptable to expect people to wait for a decade on the promise of a B2-rated home while penalising them for struggling to heat their homes in the meantime.

“The retrofitting targets and ambition are welcome, but the Government must revisit their role out plan.

“Those on low incomes and those in the coldest homes must be prioritised. A minor upgrades programme should run in tandem with the deep retrofit programme.

“In my own county of Meath, just 32 units will be deep-retrofitted this year, out of a stock of thousands. In the meantime, others living in cold homes cannot get the most basic of works carried out, e.g. windows, door, attic insulation.

“The Government need to go back to the drawing board. In the first instance, they should map all housing stock across the state by BER-rating and poverty index.

“Then they should devise a dual-approach targeted rollout programme, deep-retrofit and minor works, based on need.

“In the meantime, the anomaly whereby people cannot get new works completed if they previously had work done, needs to be addressed, so people living in cold homes can access basic improvements instead of waiting years for deep retrofits to come along.

“I raised this matter with the Tánaiste in the Dáil this week, but he had no answers, which is simply not good enough.

“If the Government can’t get simple problems like this ironed out, we will face massive difficulties meeting our national climate ambitions.” 

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