This week we speak with our project partner Juanita Blue from ERNACT (Ireland) to discuss the progress of their Regional Action Plan and the objectives they would like to achieve.

What is the full name of your Action Plan? A pathway towards a net zero smart energy system for Ireland’s Border, Midland & West (BMW) region.

What is the aim? The aim of the Action Plan is to reduce carbon emissions produced by the built environment in the BMW region and impact on the Investment for Growth and Jobs programme.

And, what will be the main output? The main outputs will include a development of a centralised and reliable regional energy-usage data repository that is accurate, complete and accessible and will introduce new approaches to reduce fuel poverty, including financial instruments.

What is the name of the policy instrument or instruments addressed? Border, Midland and Western Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020.

What would you highlight from the policy framework? This policy instrument seeks to add value to wider investment programmes in targeted high growth and innovative sectors to help create new quality jobs through innovation. One of its five main thematic objectives is to support a shift towards a low-carbon economy by supporting effective energy, intelligent management systems and the use of renewable energy in public infrastructures and housing and reducing fuel poverty. It also promotes the development of low-carbon emission strategies.

Could you tell us a little bit about the background of the Regional Action Plan? This Action Plan is the output of the process started by the INTERREG Europe CLEAN project in coordination with local authorities in the north west area of the Irish Border, Midland and Western (BMW) region.

During Phase 1 of CLEAN project, best practices transfer has been pursued through several interregional staff exchanges, interregional seminars, meetings and study visits. These were focused facilitate potential experiential transfer to the Irish Border, Midland and Western region. For example, representatives from ERNACT and its key local authority partners took part in staff exchanges in North Karelia and Naples. These staff exchanges transferred knowledge regarding successful energy efficiency measures and initiatives implemented in partner regions.

As a result, local authorities in the region have had established firm partnerships and jointly agreed to progress energy related programmes and projects towards targets set by their government, and in line with EU targets.

What is the impact that you are expecting? This Regional Action Plan will allow a more rapid implementation of energy policy as a result of a relevant high-quality energy data. Also, Fuel Poverty will enable for more energy efficient homes in consequence of access to new fuel poverty schemes and reduced incidents of fuel poverty.

They will also act as exemplars for other regional actors, strengthen regional collaboration on energy and climatic issues, and provide an evidence-base for further European Structural Funds targeted at intensifying renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

Which players are involved? ERNACT, Donegal County Council, Derry City Strabane District Council and multiple local, regional and national stakeholder and expert organisations.

How are you going to monitor it? The overall governance for the implementation of the three actions will be provided by a Steering Group, comprising of key stakeholders, who will be responsible for ensuring delivery of the Action Plan within the two-year time period. ERNACT will provide the necessary input progress reports and provide meeting organisation and facilitation. Also, the Managing Authority for the energy policy instrument in the region will ensure maximum impact of the project in the finalisation and rollout of the new programming period 2021 – 2027.