LETTERS are to be sent from Cork County Council to Ministers for Environment and Housing Eamon Ryan and Darragh O’Brien suggesting a greater emphasis on solar panels as an alternative source of heat and seeking changes to the existing housing grants to reflect the option of solar panels.
It was agreed at this week’s council meeting the letters would recommend the inclusion of grant aided solar panels as a source of heat in all appropriate houses and the need for housing grants to be restructured in relation to renewable energy.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ian Doyle submitted the motion which received widespread approval from his fellow councillors.
Cllr Doyle said the current retrofit programme is ‘costly’ and ‘cumbersome’.
“We need more concentration in our retrofit programme on solar panelling. We are now rolling out a retrofit programme that is costly, cumbersome and it does not achieve what it sets out to achieve. We need to look at solar panelling as an alternative source of heat.
“The standard of houses that we are now trying to retrofit all we are trying to do is put a plaster over the cracks. Those houses will still need a source of heat and the way we can do it is in terms of solar panelling. The costs and subsidies should be looked at by the Green Party and by the Government in general,” he added.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn said: “The existing packages don’t suit a lot of people who live in older houses as it can be expensive to put in the present retrofitting package. Part of the retrofitting package going forward should include the provision of solar panels. The grant should be enhanced.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Gearóid Murphy said the move would be a “no-brainer”.
Fianna Fáil councillor William O’Leary said solar panels have to be factor’ into housing grants which will require a redraw of the existing criteria from the Department, but he said they have to start looking at these measures.