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*Photograph: Patrick Browne

Clare County Council has received an allocation of €643,785 as part of the 2021 Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Programme for social housing.

This programme was announced on February 18 by Minister for Housing Darragh O’ Brien (FF), detailing an allocation of €35 million which will go towards the retrofitting of 1,293 homes nationwide. A further €10 million will go towards Local Authorities (LA) who demonstrate an ability to complete additional work and spend their full allocation in 2021.

A total of 35 properties have been identified as fitting the criteria to potentially reach the B2 standard.

Senior Executive Engineer with Clare County Council, Tony Neville informed members of the Social Development SPC on the previous phases and the eligible works included.

He highlighted that the current programme is a revision of the previous scheme which was in place since 2013. Clare County Council completed phase one and two upgrades of Council stock during the lifetime of the scheme. The first phase included upgrades of attic insulation and provision of cavity wall insulation. The second phase works consisted of the upgrade of attic insulation, provision of external wall insulation, window and door upgrades and ventilation upgrades to solid wall constructed properties.

For 2021, Clare County Council are required to include a minimum of 24 properties within the annual allocation of €643, 785. The maximum grant available is €45,000, requiring an achievement of a BER rating of B2 upon completion. The next phase, as part of the current 10-year programme, falls under works for: attic insulation, flat roof extension insulation, cavity wall insulation, window and door upgrades, provision of a heat pump, LED lighting and a BER Certificate.

Mr. Neville alluded to a number of challenges in implementing the programme. “Undertaking works in occupied homes with regard to compliance with Clare County Council Occupational Health and Safety management system and COVID-19 compliance for the protection of public health is one. Securing buy in from tenants will be another significant challenge and will require the removal of solid fuel appliances to achieve the B2 standard.”

Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) prompted discussion on sustainable communities located throughout Clare and stated that the Council should be prepared to partner with them going forward. There are currently 20 to 25 sustainable energy communities registered in Clare.

Mr. Neville highlighted that the Council must return the programme to the Department by March 10, 2021 in order to avail of the funding. “One issue identified is an inadequate timeframe for consultation with stakeholders. Going forward we hope to include a consultation period to address concerns of the tenants and seek input from elected members and local representatives,” he stated.

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