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Capital foundations getting stronger, but more attention needed on climate and education: Engineers Ireland reaction to Budget 2020

With just 18% of engineers believing that Ireland’s overall infrastructure is in good condition with capacity for future development, Engineers Ireland today welcomed the €800 million increase in capital expenditure to €8.1 billion in Budget 2020.

“The €800 million increase in capital spending is very welcome and will help us to overcome Brexit challenges, deal or no deal, and improve the standard of living for Irish society,” commented Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland.

The €3m allocation for electric vehicle infrastructure and €8m for EV purchasing grants were also met with a positive response from the engineering body, as were the €13m for the Warmer Homes Scheme and €20m for an energy-efficiency scheme in the Midlands. These moves show that “the Government is committed to making inroads to tackle climate change.”

“However,” Ms Spillane added, “as an organisation that is committed to the principles and practices of sustainable development, Engineers Ireland argues that much more needs to be done – particularly in areas such as EV adoption and retrofitting – to meet our Climate Action Plan targets. Climate action must underpin all investment decisions, using long-term modelling and evidence-based solutions, while engaging communities and the general public on the benefits of each development.

“The early steps taken in today’s Budget must lead towards a high-quality, resilient natural and built environment, society and economy. For example, our housing stock requires immediate retrofitting to improve living conditions and to achieve climate targets. The implementation and execution of a radical national retrofit strategy, providing a financial and delivery roadmap for retrofitting over the next 20 years, is urgently required”.

To prepare for the future of work, life, and learning, investment is needed in education, re-skilling and R&D, according to the representative body for engineers, whose membership represents the full spectrum of the engineering profession. Ms Spillane welcomed the €60 million funding of the Human Capital Initiative but noted that the higher education system continues to be seriously underfunded.

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