Retrofit programme going ‘at snail’s pace’ despite €8bn fund

Retrofit programme going ‘at snail’s pace’ despite €8bn fund

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley: 'Regardless of what announcements are made, there aren’t enough skilled workers for this, and the grant scheme itself can be slow and cumbersome.' Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Government has been accused of going at “snail's pace” when it comes to the number of homes undergoing retrofitting, after figures show the amount retrofitted this year is on par with last year’s figures.

To the end of April, 5,056 homes had work completed under the various retrofitting schemes. In all of 2021, 15,457 such works were completed.

It means that, one third of the way through 2022, the number of works completed under retrofitting schemes are just under one third of the way to matching last year’s figure.

Of the works done in 2022, 1,548 of them (or 30%) have seen homes upgraded to a BER rating of B2 or better.

In the first four months of 2022, 2,190 homes were completed under the Better Energy Homes scheme, which covers works such as attic insulation, wall lining, and heat pump systems.

National scheme

Earlier this year, the Government launched a new national retrofitting scheme, offering an €8bn investment through to 2030, which it said would address barriers to undertaking retrofits reported by homeowners and the industry.

However, these latest figures “bring us back to reality”, according to Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley, who had the statistics released to him via parliamentary question.

I know people applying for these grants — the process can be slow and then getting a contractor for it can be impossible

“Regardless of what announcements are made, there aren’t enough skilled workers for this, and the grant scheme itself can be slow and cumbersome,” Mr Stanley said. 

Deep retrofits

In the area of deep retrofits, where multiple upgrades are carried out to achieve a BER of A, 10 homes were completed last year. None have been completed yet this year.

Mr Stanley said matching funding is required for deep retrofits, which can be as much as €35,000, and an “awful lot of households cannot meet that”.

“We’re starting from a low base here,” he said. “We do need to ramp this up. If we have a cold snap this winter, it’ll mean people will be freezing in their homes.” 

The Department of Environment was contacted for comment.

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