'Green' Budget signals war on climate change
A carbon tax on fuels such as petrol, diesel and home heating oil has been put on the long finger
The first ever 'green' Budget ignited Ireland's fight against climate change by funding a range of new environmentally friendly initiatives.
But a carbon tax on fuels such as petrol, diesel and home heating oil, demanded by the Greens before the general election, has been put on the long finger.
A total of €13m goes towards energy conservation, for insulation, efficiency and building energy rating schemes. There was a significant increase in the funding for the departments of environment (up 13pc) and energy (25pc), headed up by Green ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan respectively.
A further €7m is being allocated to to develop renewable wind energy from the ocean.
With record demand for social and affordable homes, some €124m is earmarked for social housing, with the government promising to meet the NDP target of starting 27,000 new social homes between 2007-2009.
The target is to have 6,000 new social housing units either started or bought in 2008, and the provision of 5,500 new affordable homes.
Some €10m will help regenerate areas in Limerick City to reduce anti-social behaviour.
Many communities are still complaining about the poor quality of their tap water, and an extra €45m will be spent on combating the problem next year.
The money will be spent on over 350 schemes, including wastewater projects in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Wexford, Galway, Drogheda and Dundalk.
Other large projects in the 2008 programme of works include those at Ballymore Eustace, Limerick City, Donegal Bay, Lower Liffey Valley, Portlaoise, Waterford and Dungarvan, Castlebar and Roscommon.
An additional €17.9m is allocated to the Local Government Fund which goes to the local authorities for their roads programmes.
The Environment Protection Agency gets an extra €13m for essential research, development and monitoring, as well as the cost of an extension to its Wexford headquarters.
Public interest in our endangered wildlife is at an all-time high and an extra €8m is being spent by the National Parks and Wildlife service on national parks and its programmes.
The Fire Service receives an extra €3.3m for training firefighters, bringing the allocation to more than €25m next year.
The ongoing battle to stop old landfills contaminating drinking water is also funded to the tune of €13.5m, an extra €3m. Environment Minister John Gormley said the first 'green' Budget in the history of the State placed a strong emphasis on the fight against climate change.
Energy Minister Eamon Ryan welcome increased funding for his department to cover a wide range of green measures, including the commitment to a new energy efficiency tax credit allowing companies to write off 100pc of capital spending on energy-saving technologies.
He also welcomed plans to ease access to the business expansion scheme for firms involved in recycling.
Finance Minister Brian Cowen said the threat posed by climate change was central to government policy and the measures announced in the Budget would support the government's efforts to meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets.