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Budget 2021 Funding for the Departments of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport reflects Government ambition for a green, jobs-led recovery

  • Over €221m funding announced for residential and community retrofit schemes.  This €100 million increase in allocation is funded through carbon tax revenue.
  • In total, across Government, €286.5m has been committed to retrofit activity, including social housing.
  • €1.8bn funding announced for sustainable transport, cycling, walking and greenways
  • €1.3bn for national, regional and local roads
  • €108m for maritime transport and safety


The budget allocation for 2021 for the Departments of the Environment, Climate and Communications and Transport will allow for the delivery of Programme for Government commitments including:

  • a reduction in our overall greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by the end of the decade,
  • a massive scale up in retrofit activity and delivery of a new national retrofit programme;
  • development of a sustainable transport system that is accessible to all citizens, and meets our climate and environmental objectives; and
  • a jobs-led recovery.


Speaking today (Tuesday 13 October), Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport Eamon Ryan TD said:

Retrofitting homes will play an important role in our economic recovery. It is a highly labour-intensive sector and can create high-quality, sustainable jobs in local communities throughout the country. The sector will be a source of significant employment growth over the coming decades and a career path for young people via apprenticeships. Increasing the numbers of homes retrofitted will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the residential sector as well as making homes more comfortable and delivering health benefits.

On the Transport budget, Minister Ryan continued:

I am very pleased to be in a position to announce €3.5 billion in the overall budget allocation to the Department of Transport. This represents a very significant increase of €1 billion on gross expenditure levels over 2020. It will ensure that our transport network continues to grow sustainably in to the future, providing our citizens with viable and affordable transport alternatives, while also working to meet our climate and environmental objectives.

We will now be heavily investing in more sustainable transport projects than roads projects. This shift in budgetary allocation will rebalance our transport network so we are providing viable travel options for years to come. Countrywide, we will continue to invest in our public transport network and progress major infrastructure projects such as BusConnects, Dart+, and Metrolink; as well as renewing our fleet in favour of hybrid and electric vehicles.  This year’s Budget will also allow us to make significant change in the ways that we travel. In 2021 we’ll see €360m allocated across Government to support walking and cycling projects nationwide. As part of this I have also secured approximately €50 million for Greenways. This is the highest ever allocation dedicated to these types of cycle ways.

Minister of State Naughton said:

Throughout 2021, we will continue to invest in enhancing regional accessibility, investing over €1.3bn in the maintenance of national and regional and local roads, as well as commencing the construction of a number of new road schemes. This investment is essential to delivering local services, supporting economic growth in rural and regional areas as while as driving job creation. This important investment also allows us to travel safely around our local areas on all forms of transport, whether by car, motorcycle, cycling or walking.

We will also support the roll-out of a new Safe Routes to School programme. This will seek to accelerate the delivery of improved walking and cycling infrastructure to schools, enhance sustainable access onto school grounds; and expand the amount of cycle parking available at schools. Underpinning this new initiative, we will see €1 million per day spent on our walking and cycling infrastructure in 2021.

As part of this budget we will provide exchequer support of €31.3m to our regional airports. Under the Regional Airports Programme €21.3m will be provided in 2021. This programme will ensure ongoing regional connectivity through our Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services on two routes, Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin as well as enabling the progression of a number of diverse capital projects at our smallest regional airports - Donegal, Kerry and Ireland West. For the first time, in recognition of the devastating effects of Covid, Shannon and Cork Airports will have access to capital funding under a separate €10m Exchequer-funded programme. This funding will go some way to protect the cash position of the companies in dealing with the crisis. There will also be additional funding of €15m to ensure that customers of insolvent travel agents and tour operators may be refunded in full.  

€108 million of funding will be invested in maritime transport and safety. This will ensure that the Irish Coast Guard can operate safely and effectively. Key priorities in 2021 will be to ramp up the building programme for the Coast Guard and increase investment in safety-related training, equipment and systems.

Overall the money we have secured as part of Budget 2021 will help to further develop our transport system by linking and strengthening communities across the country.


Further Information for the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications Budget 2021


Massive scale up in retrofit activity - €221.5m for warmer, more comfortable homes


The Government has signalled its support for driving the green economy in budget 2021, with significantly increased funding for the SEAI and a number of existing and new retrofit Schemes:


  • €221.5 million in capital funding has been provided for residential and community retrofit programmes. This represents an 82% increase on the 2020 allocation and is the largest amount ever allocated for the schemes. This allocation will kick-start the first phase of our retrofit programme.
  • Of this allocation, €109 million is provided to support lower income households to retrofit their homes and participate in the transition.  This represents an increase of €47 million on the 2020 allocation for energy poverty schemes and means that almost half of the total residential and community retrofit budget will support people vulnerable to energy poverty. The funding will mean that more households can receive free energy efficiency upgrades making their homes warmer, healthier and cheaper to run, in line with the Programme for Government. 


The balance of the residential and community retrofit budget (€112.5m) will be spent on expanding existing SEAI grant schemes and introducing new schemes. The new schemes are:


  • The new National Retrofit Scheme (B2 package scheme) will facilitate the deeper renovation of homes to BER B2, at scale, using an end-to-end Digital First process, managed by one stop shops while ensuring good governance and cost control.
  • A second strand of the National Retrofit Scheme will support One-Stop-Shops, Residential Service Providers, Employers, Financial Institutions, registered Housing Associations and Local Authorities who wish to participate in delivering energy efficiency upgrades to homes. 
  • A new Heat Pump Ready Homes Scheme will use key data from the Building Energy Rating database to target homes that are suitable for the installation of heat pumps with grant incentives.   
  • A new Community Activation scheme will be similar to the Better Energy Communities scheme in that it is available to homes, community facilities and business.  However, it will have a number of strands focused on supporting small-scale, capacity-building projects, pilots and feasibility studies and in particular supporting Sustainable Energy Communities.


It is estimated that, in total, SEAI residential and community schemes will deliver over 29,000 retrofits including approximately 8,000 to a B2 level and support over 8,500 direct and indirect jobs. 


The Minister also today announced that a new National Retrofit Office will be established in the SEAI.  Additional staff and funding will be provided to the SEAI to resource the Retrofit Office and drive delivery of our retrofit targets.   



There will be continued support for existing and new measures for the roll out of Electric Vehicles and related charging infrastructure in 2021. In addition to vehicle grants and home and public charging, the SEAI will be introducing support for destination chargers which can be provided at locations such as hotels, shopping centres or places of employment. SEAI will also launch a new EV marketing campaign to assist citizens in making informed choices and realising the environmental and economic benefits of driving an electric vehicle.



€3 million in capital funding has also been allocated for the Community Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) to stimulate locally-owned community energy projects.


Energy Efficiency

€38 million in capital funding is being allocated to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the commercial and public sector. This funding is an almost doubling of the allocation provided in 2020 and will focus on supporting investments that are in keeping with the Government’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.



Supporting a cleaner environment - €25.5m to tackle landfill and dumping issues


€2m in 2021 to enhance existing public education and awareness programmes

The aim of awareness programmes is to promote the protection of Ireland’s natural environment, the health and well-being of our citizens and the transition to a resource-efficient circular economy as outlined in the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, in support of ecologically sustainable development, growth and jobs.


€23.5m for the Landfill Remediation Programme

The Department will use these funds to continue the remediation of environmentally-degraded discontinued landfill sites operated by local authorities and private landfills taken into State ownership. Of these funds a sum of €15m will be used in the remediation of the landfill site at Kerdiffstown in Co. Kildare, one of the most complex remediation sites in the programme.



€215m to support Connectivity and Safety online for citizens and businesses


The Covid_19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology for connectivity – in business, in keeping in touch with our families and to access services. Continued support for technology to facilitate remote working especially will contribute to the achievement of our climate ambition. The Government will continue its support and investment in digital connectivity and security in 2021.


€210m allocated to progress rollout of National Broadband Plan (NBP)

National Broadband Ireland, the company contracted to deliver the NBP, is targeting 115,000 premises being passed by the new high-speed fibre network by the end of 2021. This will represent a significant ramp-up of activity and will start to yield major benefits for these households and businesses.  This represents a major long-term investment in the regions and will address the connectivity challenges that rural communities face. All counties will see this investment in action, whether through the ongoing survey work or the subsequent building of the high-speed network.



Increased allocation of €5.1 million (an increase of €3.4m on 2020) to further develop the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)

The Government has approved a five year National Cyber Security Strategy which sets out plans to improve Cyber Security capacity and resilience in the State. The strategy includes a series of actions aimed at the protection of critical national infrastructure, building resilience of public sector data and networks and supporting cyber security research and development initiatives in Ireland. 


A Capacity Review of the NCSC has been commissioned to set out a roadmap for the future development of the organisation and additional capital funding has been provided to enable the NCSC to expand and meet the growing challenges from cyber security incidents and threats



Further information for the Department of Transport Budget 2021:


Sustainable Transport

Funding of approximately €1.8 billion for sustainable mobility, including public transport, carbon reduction programmes, active travel and greenways.

Next year will see  –

  • Construction continue on the National Train Control Centre
  • Completion of the City Centre Resignalling Programme
  • Enhancement and expansion of the PSO bus fleets through the purchase of additional buses
  • Entry into service of new hybrid PSO buses
  • Roll-out of BusConnects Dublin improved services on two of the new network spines
  • Submission of the planning application to An Bord Pleanála for the Dublin BusConnects Core Bus Corridors
  • Progression of Next Generation Ticketing under the BusConnects programme
  • Expansion of the rail fleet with the construction of 41 additional ICR carriages
  • Contract signing for largest ever rail fleet expansion with potential for up to 600 electric / battery electric carriages
  • Construction continuing on a new rail station at Pelletstown, re-commissioning works at Kishogue station and commencement of construction on a new DART station at Woodbrook
  • Delivery and entry into service of the remaining additional longer trams and tram extensions to the existing tram fleet on the Luas Green Line


A significant additional allocation of €340m will be made to Public Service Obligation (PSO) services provided by State operators and some private operators under contract by the National Transport Authority.  Temporary support of €30m will also be provided to key Commercial Bus Operators.

In addition to the above, investment will also be made in:

  • Local Link services, including rural regular services funded through PSO and managed by the Local Link offices;
  • Enhanced maintenance and renewal of the heavy rail network;


  • The Retro-fit Programme to make older public transport infrastructure more accessible for people with disabilities - accessibility is built into new projects.


Active Travel and Greenways:

€360m investment in walking and cycling across Government will support, major projects in all main cities, increased funding for greenways (now €50m) and the roll out of the Safe Routes to School Programme

  •  Cycling, Walking  and Greenway infrastructure projects include:
    • Royal Canal Cycle Scheme
    • New walking and cycling bridge over river Shannon at Athlone
    • Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Scheme
    • Extension of Grand Canal Greenway in Offaly
    • Dodder Cycle Route
    • Refurbishment of Great Southern Greenway in Limerick
    • Donabate Estuary Walking and Cycling Route
    • GDA Cycle Networks, Kildare
    • Strategic Cycle Corridors, Cork
    • Golf Links Rd, Clare St to Condell Rd, UL to National Technology Park, Limerick
    • Bilberry to City Centre, Waterford


Carbon Reduction Programmes:

€27m for tackling climate change through investment in carbon reduction schemes:


A 2021 allocation of €15m will support up to 750 taxi and hackney drivers in scrapping their older vehicles and replacing them zero-emission capable electric alternatives. The scrappage scheme will be open for taxis and hackneys reaching their maximum permissible age limit in 2020/21. Up to €20,000 will be made available for eligible drivers switching to a new all-electric vehicle and up to €32,500 for those moving to a  wheel chair accessible full electric vehicle.  The roll-out of dedicated EV Taxi Recharging Points will also be stepped up to support the transition of this key sector, helping to encourage the wider vehicle transition and supporting cleaner air in our cities and towns. In addition, the Department is providing the necessary funding to the NTA to enable it to waive annual vehicle licence renewal fees for 2021.


A further €12m will be allocated in 2021 towards a number of carbon reduction measures, including:

  • supports for a new vehicle purchase grant to help freight and commercial bus operators to buy electric, gas or hydrogen fuelled vehicles;
  • funding to trial hydrogen fuelled buses as well as supporting the further transition of Local Link services to zero-emission vehicles in rural Ireland;
  • continuation of the Low Emission Vehicle Toll Incentive (LEVTI) Scheme and the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle (eSPSV) Grant Scheme. The LEVTI Scheme encourages those who regularly use tolled roads to switch to lower emitting alternatives while the eSPSV Grant Scheme supports those who do not qualify for the EV Scrappage Scheme (not reaching their maximum permissible age limit in 2020/21 or new entrants to the sector) in transitioning towards electric vehicles by providing up to €10,000 towards the purchase for a new full electric vehicle or €12,500 for an electric wheelchair accessible model; and
  • funding studies and research projects including the key Demand Management Study (to understand measures available to help address growing transport levels  in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford), a number of freight studies and other research



Approximately €1.3bn for national, regional and local roads



A 2021 allocation of €799m will allow the Department and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to continue to provide grant support for the National Road network maintenance and renewal programmes. This includes funding to reseal roads and strengthen roads across the network. In addition, it will enable the progression of new major road schemes identified in the NDP 2018-2027 and will fund TII contractual obligations to Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects on national roads.

Works will progress on major Project 2040 road projects including:


  • N4 Collooney to Castlebaldwin, Sligo
  • N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom Upgrade Scheme
  • N5  Westport to Turlough
  • N56 Dungloe to Glenties
  • M8/N40/N25 Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade
  • M50 Enhancing Motorway Operations ie Variable Speed Limits



Regional and Local Roads Programme

A 2021 allocation of €584m will allow the Department to continue to provide grant support for the regional and local road network maintenance and renewal programme. This includes funding to reseal roads and strengthen roads across the network. Funding will also be provided for safety improvement works, bridge rehabilitation works, maintenance of former national roads and Community Involvement Schemes.

Work will progress/continue on Project 2040 regional and local roads projects including:

  • Sallins By-Pass
  • Bettystown to Laytown Link Road
  • Coonagh to Knockalisheen Distributor Road
  • Tralee Northern Relief Road



€31.3m is being provided to support regional airports in 2021, consisting of €21.3m for our smallest airports – Donegal, Kerry and Ireland West (Knock) under the Regional Airports Programme and €10m for the regional State airports of Shannon and Cork. 

The Regional Airports Programme provides targeted funding through a number of capital and operational grant schemes for safety and security related projects and activities as well as providing the necessary funds to support Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services on two routes, Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin.


For the first time, in recognition of the devastating effects of Covid, Shannon and Cork airports will have also access to funding under an Exchequer-funded programme. €10 million in capital support is being made available for safety and security projects at these airports.  This funding will go some way to protecting the cash position of the companies in dealing with the crisis.

€15m is provided order to ensure that customers of insolvent travel agents and tour operators may be refunded in full.


In terms of international aviation, we remain focused on ensuring that this sector can rebound and rebuild the network of international air services that will be key to our wider economic recovery.  We are not yet at a point however where it is possible to permit a large scale return to air travel. The government has committed that measures to safeguard strategic connectivity and build resilience will be included in the National Economic Plan which will be announced shortly.


Maritime Transport and Safety

€108m will be allocated in 2021 to maritime transport and safety:

This funding will support the work of the Irish Coast Guard; provide for the services of the Maritime Safety Policy Division, the Marine Survey Office, the Mercantile Marine Office, the Marine Radio Affairs Unit and the Department’s contribution towards the net cost of the Commissioners of Irish Lights operations all of which are responsible for ensuring productive and safe use of Ireland’s seas.  In addition, funding is provided to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) to allow it to carry out its functions to examine and if necessary carry out investigations into all types of marine casualties to, or on board, Irish registered vessels worldwide and other vessels in Irish territorial waters and inland waterways.