Applications Opened for the Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme

Applications Opened for the Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme

Applications Opened for the Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme

EPA publish new Circular Economy Programme as successor to the National Waste Prevention Programme

The government has published a draft national strategy on how Ireland can transition to a Circular Economy and is inviting businesses, communities and citizens to contribute their views through public consultation.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD said:

The Circular Economy is built around ‘doing more with less’ or consuming fewer material resources to sustain our communities, homes and economy.  The model builds on sharing, reusing and reinventing materials to meet our needs and replaces the current ‘take, make, dispose’ model. We are now developing a whole-of-Government strategy to ensure Ireland transitions to a Circular Economy and avails of the opportunities the circular economy can provide.  These opportunities include reducing waste, shrinking our carbon footprint, supporting local and regional economic development, growing new business models and providing skilled employment opportunities.

The draft Strategy sets out what is a circular economy, why Ireland needs to achieve a circular economy and how national policy will develop to support that goal.

It has 5 key objectives:

  • To provide a national policy framework for Ireland’s transition to a circular economy;
  • To support and implement measures that significantly reduce Ireland’s circularity gap, in both absolute terms and in comparison with other EU Member States, so that Ireland’s rate is above the EU average by 2030;
  • To raise awareness amongst households, business and individuals about the circular economy and how it can improve their lives;
  • To support and promote increased investment in the circular economy in Ireland with a view to delivering sustainable, regionally balanced economic growth and employment; and
  • To identify and address the economic, regulatory, and social barriers to Ireland’s transition to a more circular economy.

The final strategy will provide an important policy signal across the system and the markets that Ireland is committed to a transition to circularity. The government had committed to producing this strategy under the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy.

Our transition to a circular economy will require a whole of society effort. To help communities make the transition to a circular economy, the government has launched a new Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme (CEIGS). This grant scheme aims to support innovation and circular economy projects by social enterprises, voluntary and community organisations and businesses with less than 50 employees.  The total CEIGS is €250,000 for the 2021 call. The maximum year 1 grant available will be €50,000 – the indicative funding range for projects is €10,000 – €50,000.

Applications for funding could focus on the thematic areas which relate to priorities for the circular economy in Ireland:  plastics, construction & demolition waste, food waste and resources & raw materials (electrical and electronic equipment, textiles, furniture). Some examples (for illustration purposes) of the type of proposals for funding that could be considered are:

  • Redesign of products or packaging to replace non-recyclable plastic with recyclable plastic or replace virgin plastic with recyclable plastic.
  • Redesign of products for ease of recycling at end-of-life.
  • Circular construction products (products that can be reused or with increased lifespan).
  • Selective/Green demolition to enable removal of hazardous materials and facilitate reuse and recycling.
  • Promoting innovative waste prevention solutions across the food production and food processing sectors.
  • Implementing technical and behavioural interventions to reduce food waste in commercial settings.
  • Reducing the content of hazardous substances in materials and products.
  • Increase recovery of listed critical raw materials.

 In line with the measures proposed in the Waste Action Plan, today also sees the launch of a consultation on Ireland’s new Circular Economy Programme, led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This new programme builds on fifteen years of leadership by the EPA on waste prevention, including Ireland’s well-regarded food waste prevention campaign and the development of national guidance on priority topics such as Construction Waste Management and Green Public Procurement. Through its work in this area the EPA also supports Dublin’s Rediscovery Centre as the National Centre for the Circular Economy; and Circuleire – the National Circular Manufacturing Platform.

The new EPA Circular Economy Programme will be a driving force for Ireland’s move to a circular economy by businesses, householders and the public sector. It is founded on the waste hierarchy which identifies Prevention as the priority, to be followed by Re-Use; Repair; and Recycling. Activities within the programme will be focussed on the sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high. Through the programme EPA will provide insights and data to support national circular economy policy and behavioural change campaigns. Early examples of this approach will be the development of target-driven roadmaps on Food Waste and Plastics to articulate sectoral actions required to achieve a national shift to circularity. The successful model of partnership working will also be continued and developed, with a new collaboration to grow Ireland’s reuse & repair culture.

The programme objectives are to:

  • Provide leadership to improve coherence on the development and regulation of the circular economy in Ireland.
  • Maintain a competitive programme of supports to drive the circular economy through providing innovation grants and seed-funding to nationally-relevant initiatives.
  • Implement actions that build knowledge and an evidence base to inform circular economy development in Ireland, and to report on progress towards circularity.
  • Realise the enterprise opportunity by supporting new business models; promoting resource efficiency; and retaining material value through enhanced use of secondary/recycled materials.

The public consultation on the Programme is open until 17:30, 11 June 2021.

Speaking at the launch of the programme today, Laura Burke, Director of the EPA said:

The EPA Circular Economy Programme supports government strategy and will translate national circular ambitions into the daily activities of workplaces and homes across Ireland. Creating a resource-efficient economy and resilient society requires rapid and far-reaching transformation across all sectors. This new programme will work with business leaders, public-sector exemplars and the public to change our attitudes to consumption and to develop new opportunities that meet consumer needs while reducing waste and carbon emissions. We look forward to hearing from our stakeholders with their views on the programme’s objectives and priorities.

 

Xplore Gort App was launched on the 10th May 2021 at Kilmacduagh

Xplore Gort App was launched on the 10th May 2021 at Kilmacduagh

The highly-anticipated Xplore Gort App was launched on the 10th May 2021 at Kilmacduagh, Irelands largest round tower in the presence of Minister of State Anne Rabbitte, Laura Tannian, Enterprise Development Manager of The Forge Works, Elodie Golden CEO of Wild Geese, Jonathan Madden, COMWORKS and Maevita De Barros representing the Xplore Local team.

Xplore is a digital infrastructure for towns developed by Galway based company, Booniverse Limited. The platform’s simplistic design allows users to interact with a variety of towns without having to download multiple apps or visit multiple websites. Users enable location services or select a region to simply stay local.

Gort has now become part of Xplore’s growing network of towns that extends from Galway to Kerry, from Cork to Carlow. The launch is indicative of a wider movement in towns across the country, where enterprising locals are seeking out new and efficient ways to boost their local economies, attract tourists and promote their towns’ amenities.

Laura Tannian and her team have been working tirelessly over the past number of months to get the app ready for release. 

‘Quote.’

Speaking on how the app will be of benefit to the local economy, Minister Rabbitte:

Even before the pandemic, small businesses based in rural areas were already having to change the way they marketed their products and services and appeal to new clientele. 

For some small businesses and start-ups — such as artisan food-makers who may be working from their home kitchens — Rabbitte says the app allows them to harness ‘alternative ways of marketing with the app giving you directions to the middle of nowhere, giving you the business telephone number,  bringing you to their webpage, their social profiles.  One feature I find fantastic myself is the share button which allows the user to share a profile page to friends and family.

Anne continued: 

That’s the wonderful thing about the app: there’s something in it for everyone…from the local news, to the business profile, from the hikes and trails, to the local history brought to life – there’s something for all ages — and it’s simple to use.

Xplore Gort aims to better serve the needs of locals and tourists alike — especially in times like these when shopping and exploring locally has never been more important.

With retailers reopened for Click and Collect since May 4th, local businesses are sure to be delighted with the e-commerce features of the app. Hospitality won’t be forgotten either when they reopen, with access to features that highlight their services, people and community impact.  

Commenting on the launch, Xplore COO James Finan said:

We are delighted to be in partnership with Gort, the response has been amazing and it shows how valuable and needed something like the Xplore Gort App is. We are now working with the communities in Galway, Fermoy, Tralee, Clonakilty, Portumna & Youghal to keep them up to date and are currently preparing Killarney and Bagenalstown for rollout. We want Xplore to matter — to our clients, to our people, and in our communities — both here in Ireland and other communities around the world, wherever we do business. I would be very happy to speak with any group who wants this for their town.

You can download the app here:  http://onelink.to/tjwkz8 (this link will take readers to the IOS or android stores depending on their phone type. 

NPWS seeks citizen scientists to help endangered Curlew

NPWS seeks citizen scientists to help endangered Curlew

Friday 23 April 2021

  • Public encouraged to report breeding Curlew sightings to NPWS between April and June
  • Citizen science records will inform 2021 National Breeding Curlew Survey
  • Nine areas in key Curlew hotspots across the country are prioritised
  • Contact NPWS with any sightings

 

Citizen scientists can help bring one of Ireland’s most iconic birds back from the brink by reporting sightings to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The Curlew Conservation Programme is encouraging members of the public to record locations of Curlew sightings between April and June and report the information to the NPWS’s team. Breeding Curlew are currently nesting in bogs, pastures, meadows and other open and wet habitats in Curlew hotspots around the country. By submitting records of sightings, the public can help build up a national picture of the number of breeding birds.

Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said:

This is a fantastic way for people across the country to get to know the wild places in their county and, at the same time, to contribute to the conservation of one of our most iconic and best-loved birds. I’d like to encourage all budding citizen scientists young and old to get involved and help our Curlew Conservation Programme team to gather this important data, which will support the ongoing protection of the Curlew.

How to submit records:

–          By email:  nationalcurlewsurvey@gmail.com

–          By phone to the survey coordinator on 083 104 8000

–          Online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QRLHR7B here

The Curlew Conservation Programme – jointly funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – has been collaborating with landowners in nine key areas (listed below) since 2017 in an effort to halt the decline of a bird whose numbers decreased by 96% in a 30 year period. Curlew occur in flocks around many of our coasts in winter, but the vast majority are migrants, with only around 1 in 30 birds actually breeding here in the Spring.

Dr Seán Kelly, NPWS waterbird ecologist managing the 2021 breeding Curlew survey, said

Breeding Curlew populations in Ireland are amongst the country’s most pressing conservation priorities, of great concern to conservationists and the wider public alike. This enigmatic species has inspired generations of art and folklore, including the great William Butler Yeats – and much like the great works of Yeats, Curlew deserve to be cherished, celebrated and protected in Ireland. The 2021 National Breeding Curlew Survey will provide an update on the previous survey from 2015, letting us know how successful our efforts to date have been and what we need to do in the immediate future. There is huge positive momentum around the country for Curlew conservation, particularly in the farming community, and we need to build upon this.

The call of the Curlew is synonymous with the Irish countryside – from lowland grassland and raised bogs to our mountains and hills their distinctive ‘coorlew’ call is a sign of Spring. Like a growing number of our bird species, Curlew populations have declined dramatically – so much so that fewer than 200 breeding pairs now occur across Ireland.

In recognition of the seriousness of the threat to Irish breeding Curlew, Minsters Noonan and Hackett jointly increased funding to enhance conservation efforts earlier this year. At the launch of the enhanced financial support for the Curlew Conservation Programme, Minister Noonan described the situation for Curlew as “one of the most difficult and pressing conservation concerns of our time” and the funding allowing a strengthening of work between communities and conservationists, “working together to protect this iconic and much-loved bird”.

The nine key Curlew hotspots for the Curlew Conservation Programme are:

  • Stack’s Mountains, Kerry
  • Lough Corrib
  • Lough Ree
  • North Roscommon/Mayo
  • Mid-Leitrim
  • North Monaghan
  • Donegal
  • Slieve Aughty Mountains
  • Laois/Kildare

For more information on the Curlew Conservation Programme, including reports, see: https://www.npws.ie/farmers-and-landowners/schemes/curlew-conservation-programme

Athenry Virtual Walled Town Day 2021. 

Athenry Virtual Walled Town Day 2021. 

Thursday 13 May 2021

The Heritage Council has announced a grant of €25,000 to Galway County Council for the Athenry Town Walls Capital Works Project. The grant will enable the repair and consolidation of the south wall part of the medieval defences In Athenry.

In addition, the Heritage Council has awarded a grant of €12,000 to Galway County Council to undertake a feasibility study to develop a Walkway around Athenry’s medieval town walls. This will help to realise the high potential for improvement in understanding, access and appreciation of the Town Walls and associated monuments among the public.

A further grant of €15,000 is awarded to Galway County Council to support Athenry Virtual Walled Town Day 2021.  This will facilitate a heritage and educational experience where all sectors of the Community can gain a greater awareness, appreciation and knowledge of the medieval town walls and the town of Athenry.

The Loughrea Virtual Medieval Festival 2021 is also awarded a grant of €15,000 to provide an online medieval festival to showcase and create a greater awareness of the rich medieval heritage of Loughrea.

These grants have been awarded under the Irish Walled Towns Network which is helping to make the walled towns of Ireland become better places in which to live, work and visit.

 

Third call for Category 2 applications to the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

Third call for Category 2 applications to the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Wednesday, May 12th) announced the third call for Category 2 applications to the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

  • Funding to support landmark regeneration projects that will transform Rural Ireland
  • Communities urged to put forward projects that will drive economic growth, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres
  • Strong focus on converting old buildings into remote working facilities and attracting people back to rural towns and villages 

This Fund will support landmark regeneration projects across the country that will breathe new life into rural towns and villages.

Communities are being urged to put forward projects that will drive economic growth and footfall, combat dereliction, regenerate town centre and heritage buildings, develop pedestrian zones and outdoor spaces and make rural towns more attractive places to live, work and raise a family.

There will also be a strong focus on developing remote working facilities such as digital and enterprise communities, as well as e-learning, cultural and community spaces.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is a key component of Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious five year policy for Rural Ireland.  The €1 billion Fund is also part of the Department’s Rural Development Investment Programme, which is funded under Project Ireland 2040.

Projects that will be funded under Category 2 are those that require significant development before they reach the stage of being shovel ready.  They will be projects that can revitalise our towns and villages and attract people back to live and work in rural area – key objectives of Our Rural Future

To date, the Fund has delivered €249 million for 164 projects worth a total of €338 million across the country.

Announcing the call today, Minister Humphreys said:

Today I am opening the third call for Category 2 applications to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

I am seeking large-scale, ambitious projects which require development support to enable them to become ready to compete for full capital funding under Category 1 of the Fund.

The Government’s new rural policy – Our Rural Future – has set out an ambitious vision for Rural Ireland and this Fund is one of the key means of realising that ambition. 

Only last month, I announced €81 million in support from this Fund for 25 landmark projects around the country and it is vital that we maintain this momentum.

I want to see new projects which match my ambition for rural areas – delivering sustainable growth, greater activity and innovative approaches to revitalising our rural towns and villages. 

I also want to see projects that will address dereliction and support the Government’s desire to make remote working a permanent fixture in the lives of tens of thousands of our citizens.

This Fund represents a once in a generation opportunity – I urge you all to be bold and be ambitious with your proposals.

Minister Humphreys added:

The investment that is being provided through this Fund is truly transformational in scale.  It is allowing rural communities to transform and reshape their towns and villages and to position them to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the pandemic in terms of remote working and of people returning to rural areas to live and work.

The development of these large scale projects requires significant resources and the Category 2 funding provided through this call will enable projects to reach a stage where they are developed to a high standard and are ready to commence. This will ensure that there is a pipeline of high-quality, ambitious projects ready to compete for funding in future Category 1 calls from the Fund. 

I encourage our partners, stakeholders and rural communities to work together to avail of this wonderful opportunity.

Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte welcomed the latest announcement:

I am delighted to see such a commitment in government to rural Ireland.  The strong focus on developing remote working facilities such as digital and enterprise communities, as well as e-learning, cultural and community spaces is music to my ears.  My desk is piled high with innovative, disruptive proposals and projects from the enterprise, e-learning and remote working communities – I have been engaging with some really impressive community groups long before the pandemic.  Paradoxically, the pandemic has accelerated the movements that were already taking place such as remote working, co-working hubs and digital transformation.  Post-pandemic, all of these innovations will be mainstream.  I want to see East Galway at the forefront of this disruption and innovation, the ultimate winners – our rural towns, villages and communities.  We need to be big, bold and fearless in our approach.

Full details are available on gov.ie