An Taisce November 2015 eZine

31st October 2015

Donegal Association Annual Craft Fair

Local Association Event
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny

Time: Noon to 6 p.m.

Exhibitor fee €15.00 (non refundable deposit) plus 10% of any gross takings greater than €150.00.

Further information and exhibitor application form available from tnoelfoley@eircom.net. Closing date for applications is Nov 14th 2015

Cost An Taisce Members: 
Entrance fee €3.00 (adult) Children free.
Cost Non Members: 
Entrance fee €3.00 (adult) Children free.

Renewable Heat Energy Consultation

1st September 2015
Submission Summary

Current policy and fiscal measures to promote renewable heat are entirely ineffective. Heat greenhouse gas emission rose by over 2.6 % in 2013 over previous year’s levels, and Ireland has no strategic planning measures impact in this sector.

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Renewable Electricity Support Scheme Consultation

1st September 2015
Submission Summary

Ireland’s current Renewable Energy Support Scheme regime, in conjunction with current national energy policy needs to be comprehensively reviewed to address a fast changing world where the imperative for energy decarbonisation is mounting

Download PDF: 
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Many inadequacies in proposed dumping at sea in Dublin Bay - An Taisce

1st September 2015
Press Release

Yesterday, Monday August 31st 2015, An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency outlining their deep concerns at the proposed application by the Dublin Port Company to dump spoil from their proposed developments.

In the submission, An Taisce pointed out that:

Dublin Bay is as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and contains a range of designations under the Habitats and Birds Directive. In addition to the SAC (Strategic Areas of Conservation) and SPA (Special Protection Area) designations in and around the Bay, there are also offshore designation under Annex I habitat namely sub-sea 'reefs' and Annex II species 'harbour porpoise - Phocoena phocoena'

Apart from accommodating commercial shipping the Bay is a significant recreational amenity for swimming, sailing, canoeing, wildlife observation, diving and other activities. The Dumping at Sea proposal is part of a single berthage and channel deepening and dumping at sea development project by Dublin Port Company, the land based part of which has been granted consent by An Bord Pleanala in June 2015 Ref 29N PA0034

This constitutes the offshore part of the project to dump 10 million tonnes of tonnes of silt in the Bay over a five year period from capital dredging from Dublin Port. This raises significant impact concerns on the ecology of the bay in general and of the areas and species protected under the Habitats and Birds Directive in particular. We consider that there is a particular issue in relation to the protected reefs and harbour porpoise.

In addition to this there is the potential level of heavy metals in the Dublin Port operational area which have lodged in the sediment proposed for dredging, and the cumulative issue of the one million tonnes of dredging proposed by the Dun Laoghaoire Harbour Company, in the Cruise Terminal lodged in June 2015.”

The submission goes on to outline many other inadequacies in the proposal and a copy is available here http://www.antaisce.org/sites/antaisce.org/files/dumping_at_sea_permit_application_by_dublin_port_company.pdf

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

An Taisce asks has DAHG gone over to the Dark Side?

8th September 2015
Press Release

An Taisce was emailed at 3:10 am today on the 8th of September by NPWS staff to advise them that a consent had been issued by the Minister for the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht in respect of further filming and associated works for Star Wars on Skellig Michael, from the day previously - the 7th September to 29th September. Skellig Michael is UNESCO World Heritage Site and a site specially designated for the protection of certain bird species and their habitat under both EU and Irish Law.

Responding to this email the Spokesperson for An Taisce Charles Stanley-Smith said:

"An Taisce is appalled by how the Minister and Department have conducted this matter . As of 13:16 today (8th September), neither An Taisce nor any member of the public has a copy of the consent or the application to review.

Yet we understand that materials are in the process of being landed and already landed on the site. This means that the impacts and effect of this work is already happening, and we have been, and are being kept deliberately and entirely in the dark.

Any opportunity to participate in the process before a decision was made was denied by the Minister, and now no opportunity is being provided to examine properly the consent, and the particulars and to consider any possible requirement necessary to challenge its legality in the courts – as we and others are lawfully entitled to do – is being actively subverted by the Department. The public interest in the protection of unique and vulnerable environment and the role of the courts on such matters is being compromised here in our view, to facilitate the film company."

He continued:

"An Taisce naturally supports the role of film in promoting Ireland’s wonderful built and natural heritage. But this cannot be done at the cost of destroying it, or the goose that lays the golden egg for our important indigenous tourist industry and all to satisfy the transient interest of a film company whose purpose is to use this internationally significant UNESCO World Heritage Site – merely as film set. The specific impacts and the consequential impacts to the site are of extreme concern to An Taisce, and the adequacy of the Minister’s assessment requires examination and our concerns as to the adequacy of same are only heightened by the fact she has acted and continues to act in an entirely non-transparent way – compromising the ability of concerned citizens to hold her accountable until it is too late. We have to ask what is she hiding?

We are painfully aware that this is the same Minister Humphreys who presided over a situation for weeks earlier this summer of an unlawful export licence for the Alfred Beit Paintings proposed for sale in Christies in the UK, a situation which required An Taisce to initiate Court proceedings against the Minister, which the State then conceded and settled, vindicating entirely An Taisce’s position on the matter.

We note the Minister relied on the particulars of the consent she has granted this morning in an interview with Sean O’Rourke. Yet no-one has the opportunity to review the consent as it has not been published ,together with the application and all the particulars with a view of satisfying themselves on same and the Minister’s assurances to us relying on a consent from July 2014 is meaningless as a) it hasn’t be pubished, b) this years filming is far more significant in terms of time than last years and c) it is taking place at a different time of year with different ecological considerations.

As it stands we find it difficult to reconcile a number of comments of the Minister on her consent with the limited extracts of particulars we have been provided with. The Minister current assurances are therefore in the context meaningless to us, and we can have no confidence in her, or her administration on this matter. We call on the Minister to disclose immediately all particulars in relation to this consent which she has deliberately refused to provide to date."

He added:

"An Taisce has been seeking information on this matter from the 11th of August, amounting to over 8 requests todate, and finds itself still seeking critically relevant information with works now proceeding."

Ian Lumley Heritage office for An Taisce said

“We learned last Friday at 6:44 pm that an application was expected to be lodged today, and actively sought this over the weekend so we could make some meaningful comment before the Minister decided on this matter. Our concerns were based on the fact the Minister received an application also on a Friday (20th July for the 2014) for the 2014 filming of Star Wars last year and granted consent 2 days later on a Sunday 22nd – and that consent still isn’t published. We are left in a situation of not knowing whether preparatory works being undertaken were authorised or un-authorised until this 3:10 am email. It is utterly unacceptable for the Minister, charged with the protection of cultural heritage to conduct herself in such a secretive fashion. This is particularly so where the Minister has granted permission to a private company to trample for three weeks over one of the most sensitive archaeological and environmental location in the State for the sole purpose of generating a profit.

An Taisce is therefore considering any and all options on this matter including legal challenge – and considers the manner in which this has been handled is an unparalleled subversion of environmental democracy, compromises the public interests and the role intended for the courts in accessing Justice under our Constitution and International Conventions Ireland has ratified."

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Dart Underground link faces Abandonment while Dublin Traffic Congestion Mounts

9th September 2015
Press Release

Media reports are in circulation that transport Minister Paschal Donohoe proposes to abandon Dart Underground, and proceed with a Luas connection to Dublin Airport

The information circulated yesterday that Dart Underground is to be abandoned means that Dublin will not achieve the integrated rail system needed for a progressive European city.

Dart Underground would link and allow intersection of the four radial rail routes around Dublin into an interconnected integrated and enhanced mass transit access to the city centre.

It has particular benefit for the Kildare commuter line which currently terminates at Heuston. It would allowed stations on this line, in which there has been extensive investment in enhanced track capacity, to become a major focus for future development as well as for feeder buses from surrounding catchment areas. It would also have significantly increased the capacity of public transport access to Docklands, which is due to become a location for major office schemes by a number of multinational investors with the recent granting of consent by An Bord Pleanala for a planning scheme.

Meanwhile newly published data shows the worsening congestion around Dublin.

According to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (new name for merged entities NRA and Rail procurement Agency) traffic on the M50 is now at its highest ever level, with 12,000 more cars every day, compared to 3 years ago. The TII also says that annual growth in traffic is 8-10%.

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/dublins-m50-traffic-at-highest-ever-level-694945.html

The TII is now giving overdue consideration to Travel Demand Management for the M50 ‘bypass’:

The M50 is the most heavily trafficked road in the country with in excess of 130,000 vehicles per day using several sections. The road was originally envisaged as a bypass route for strategic traffic around Dublin. However, following the economic growth that took place during its construction, the M50 is now located within the suburbs of Dublin and provides a range of functions over and above that expected of a strategic corridor.

Source http://www.tii.ie/tii-library/strategic-planning/strategic-reports/M50-DM-Executive-Summary-April2014.pdf

The requirement for travel demand management, to reduce car based commuting in particular, was part of the planning consent for adding new lanes to the M50, which should already have been put in place Nationally it has been Government Policy since the adoption of the Department of Transport "Smarter Travel" strategy in 2009.

The Greater Dublin Area needs immediate measure through feeder buses, parking charges, and special action plans for larger employment locations and schools to reduce congestion.

However the future strategic planning of Dublin as a European city region needs Dart Underground as part of the essential switch needed form a car based to an efficient public transport based capital and city region.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel:+353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Just one in 10 new diesel cars is as clean as the legal limit, European report finds

15th September 2015
Press Release

Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 auto emissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit. (See infographic 1)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEb21odXl1dTItX3c/view?usp=sharing

This is issue is very relevant to Ireland, where there has been rapid growth in vehicle sales and where EPA reports show that urban air quality is breaching World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended air particle pollution limits.

On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

In fact just three out of 23 tested vehicles met the new standards when tested on the road. The main reason is Europe’s testing system is obsolete, allowing carmakers to use cheaper, less effective exhaust treatment systems in cars sold in Europe, according to newly released data. In contrast, diesel cars sold by the same manufacturers in the US, where limits are tighter and tests are more rigorous, have better exhaust treatment systems and produce lower emissions. (See infographic 2)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKESjhxMXg5Rkk3azg/view?usp=sharing

A new on-road test will, for the first time, measure diesels’ ‘real-world’ emissions but it will not apply to all new cars until 2018 at the earliest. Meanwhile, carmakers are continuing to try to delay and weaken the introduction of the tests by demanding further changes to the rules only agreed in July.

Greg Archer, T&E’s clean vehicles manager, said: “Every new diesel car should now be clean but just one in 10 actually is. This is the main cause of the air pollution crisis affecting cities. Carmakers sell clean diesels in the US, and testing should require manufacturers to sell them in Europe too."

The cost to manufacturers of a modern diesel after-treatment system is around €300 per car.

The current testing regime has seen nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits exceeded across Europe, exacerbating asthma in vulnerable people and shortening life expectancy in polluted places. In the UK, where the number of diesel cars has risen from 1.6 million to 12 million since 1994, a government health agency found that thousands of people suffered attacks when smog full of tiny particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gas typical of diesel emissions descended last spring. Estimates of the number of premature deaths in London also doubled once nitrogen dioxide effects were incorporated into the analysis. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/nearly-9500-people-die-each-year-in-london-because-of-air-pollution-study

Greg Archer continued "It really points up the wholesale lack of law enforcement in the EU: carmakers guess that European law won't be enforced so they don't bother fitting clean exhaust technology here. But US law enforcement is robust and so the very same firms don't dare fit third-rate exhausts on the other side of the Atlantic"

http://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/dont-breathe-here-tackling-air-pollution-vehicles

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.ie

NOTES:

Transport & Environment’s mission is to promote, at EU and global level, a transport policy based on the principles of sustainable development. Transport policy should minimise harmful impacts on the environment and health, maximise efficiency of resources, including energy and land, and guarantee safety and sufficient access for all.

Infographic 1
Infographic 2

An Taisce finds Draft Environmental Analysis of Food Wise 2025 to be "fundamentally flawed and unfit for purpose"

25th September 2015
News Item

An Taisce has responded to the draft Environmental Analysis Report (incorporating a Strategic Environmental Assessment and an Appropriate Assessment) of the proposed Food Wise 2025 National Agri-Food strategy, as issued by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and the Marine.

In summary, our considered view of the draft Environmental Analysis Report is that it is fundamentally flawed and unfit for purpose. It should be withdrawn and completely redone on a properly informed basis.

Download PDF: 
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An Taisce seeks Public Response on Dublin High Rise Plans

2nd October 2015
Press Release

An Taisce is seeking to stimulate a large scale public response opposing damaging future high rise development in Dublin.

Yesterday marked the publication of the Draft Dublin City Development Plan by Dublin City Council (DCC) which will define the future development of the capital.

The height policy of DCC wrongly redefines the publicly accepted definition of high and low rise. - "Low-rise" as now defined by DCC for Dublin turns out to be high-rise!

"Low Rise" is defined by DCC in the Draft plan as buildings up to 28m. (See attached photo of 28m building). To put this into perspective it is well to note that in the US, the National Fire Protection Association defines high rise as a building of 22.5m or more. Frankfurt considers 20m to be high rise and will not permit buildings of this height in the city center. It has a separately zoned high rise financial district.

Traditional heights in Dublin rise from 8/9m to the 3 storey-over-basement Georgian house which is approx.14m. This coincides with the accepted definition of low rise as up to 15m. However, since 2011 Dublin has started to grant permission to commercial buildings up to 28m high throughout the city center. The change envisioned in the Draft Plan would allow for the consideration of all buildings - either commercial or residential - to rise to 28m throughout the city center.

The Draft City Development Plan while purporting to retain most of the city as a "low-rise" area is, in reality, converting the entire inner city to high-rise.

A significant aspect of Dublin's undoubted charm is its human scale, character and harmonious relation of building height to street widths - Dublin is compared to Amsterdam and Copenhagen in combining the function of a vibrant capital with the maintenance of historic low rise character. This charm is very fragile and, unless very carefully treated, can easily be destroyed.

The provision in the Draft City Development Plan to allow such extreme heights in the city center will undoubtedly have the effect of destroying the intimate charm of the entire city.

The pretense is that other than at Heuston, the Docklands, Connolly and George's Quay where "high rise" is allowed, and Phibsborough, Grangegorman and Digital Hub where mid-rise buildings are allowed, all the remaining area of the city between the canals will be "low-rise".

Members of the public are invited to make submissions on the Draft Dublin City Development Plan but the decision on whether to agree to what amounts to the conversion of all of Dublin city center into a high rise area rests entirely with the elected City Councillors.

Dublin has many areas that are suitable for high-rise buildings - many, including the Docklands and along the Luas line towards Red Cow have been identified. What is not in the interest of the city or the country, is to allow the character of the historic center of Dublin, built up over 1000 years, to be destroyed - we only have to look to neighboring Georgian cities in Britain (Edinburgh, Bath, etc) to realise the enormous contribution that the built heritage makes to the economy.

Ideally, City Councillors should consider lowering the permissible 28m height in the historic City Center to the genuine low-rise height of 15m. This is the appropriate maximum height for the city center of a low-rise city like Dublin.

Public submissions may be made up to 11 Dec 2015 to planning@dublincity.ie

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel:+353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

An Taisce wins legal case regarding Edenderry peat-fired power station

9th October 2015
Press Release

Continued operation of power station was approved in 2013 without proper assessment of environmental effects, High Court holds

An Taisce today won its long-running legal action regarding Edenderry power station in Co. Offaly, which burns up to 1.2 million tonnes of peat a year, supplied by Bord na Mona.

An Taisce’s case before the High Court was that, contrary to the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the environmental effects of extracting the peat fuel to be burned at Edenderry were not assessed before An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission to allow the plant burn peat from 2015 to 2023.

Giving the High Court's judgment today, Mr Justice Michael White held that there was "functional interdependence" between the power plant and the Bord na Mona bogs identified in the planning application.

"From any reasonable application of the objective facts of this project, there are possible indirect effects of the use of peat from these bogs on the environment," he added. "The difficulty is that [An Bord Pleanála] excluded completely the consideration of the indirect effects, when considering the planning application for the extension of life of the power plant," said Judge White.

The Court concluded that An Bord Pleanála "has interpreted the relevant legislation applying Article 3 of the Directive too narrowly".

Commenting on An Taisce's victory, Heritage Officer Ian Lumley said, "This was a real David versus Goliath struggle. This case underlines the crucial role An Taisce plays in the planning system as a prescribed consultee," added Lumley.

"Today we have defended and secured important public rights, because a proper impact assessment will give all of us the opportunity to examine the evidence of environmental impacts and give our input. Without this evidence and public consultation, any approval is uninformed, undemocratic, and ultimately unlawful" said Lumley. "By An Taisce addressing this in the Irish courts, and the Irish courts upholding EU law, this serves to reduce the massive reputational and cost risk to Ireland of action being taken against Ireland by the European Commission given the breach of EU law at issue."

"Bord na Mona announced recently that after 2030 it will no longer harvest energy peat.[Note 1] What it did not say is that it will by then have used up more or less all of its usable peat reserves in any event," concluded Lumley.

The High Court held that An Taisce was entitled to a declaration that where the environmental effects of extracting the peat fuel source for Edenderry power plant were not properly assessed for the purposes of the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, An Bord Pleanála is obliged to ensure the effectiveness of the Directive by subjecting those environmental effects to Environmental Impact Assessment before any permission is granted for the power plant.

The case will return to the High Court a week today - Friday 16 October 2015 - for the Judge to consider what further orders are required.

An Taisce thanks its legal team for their excellent work on this case: solicitor Andrew Jackson and barristers John Kenny BL and James Devlin SC.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES
1. Bord na Mona's statement regarding 2030 is here: http://www.bordnamona.ie/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Sustainability-2030.pdf

Left hand producing a Climate Change Bill - Right hand pleading to Europe for lower targets.

9th October 2015
Press Release

In September 2014, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, addressing a UN conference in New York, spoke out powerfully about the looming global climate crisis and the duty of those who exercise political power to act now, and to act decisively.

“The hand of the future beckons, the clock ticks and we have no time to waste…Global warming is a stark reality that can only be dealt with by a collective global response. We are all interdependent and interconnected … we share a common humanity… and each of us must play our part”, said Mr Kenny.

The passing this week of Ireland’s first ever Climate Bill is, or should be, a cause for celebration for those who care about future generations, as well as the millions already suffering as a result of the impacts of climate change. The establishment of an independent Climate Advisory Council – albeit overloaded with economists, and worryingly light on actual scientific expertise – is a welcome development.

Also, the government’s agreement to include the concept of Climate Justice (acknowledging that we in the ‘developed’ world have gained by the use of fossil fuels, at the expense of those in poorer countries, and so we must act first and take the greatest cuts) is also welcomed, as is the fact that a National Mitigation Plan will now be put on a statutory basis. And, as the passage in the UK in 2008 of its Climate Act has shown, climate legislation has led to the establishment of a framework to develop an economically credible emissions reduction path, while strengthening the UK’s leadership internationally. The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) plays an active role in shaping policy on emissions reduction, while the Climate Act has also had the welcome effect of reducing the degree to which issue of climate change is kicked around as a political football.

However, what is alarming is that, the morning after the Climate Bill is passed by the Dáil, this headline appears in the national press: ‘State to lobby EU for lower climate change targets’. Despite An Taoiseach’s rhetoric about the “stark reality” of climate change, it is clear that his officials are being dispatched to Brussels to try to secure a special exemption for Ireland from meeting the emissions reductions targets being mandated by the EU.

Leading this ‘special pleading’ once again is Ireland’s agriculture sector. If the EU is to exempt Ireland from achieving scientifically mandated critical emissions reductions targets, then the German auto industry, Poland’s coal industry and dozens of other powerful ‘national interest’ groups will be able to point to Ireland and defend their also being exempted from emissions reduction targets.

This in turn will lead to the certain collapse of the EU’s efforts to aggressively rein in emission. With the EU opting out, China, the US and other major emerging economies can then also cave in to their own domestic special interest groups. When Taoiseach Kenny said: “each of us must play our part”, were these just empty words?

An Taisce would remind Mr Kenny that EU emissions reductions targets are designed to save lives, protect our economies and secure food production – these are not, as he appears to believe, mere Brussels red tape that can be wished away by lobbying and handshakes. “The hand of the future beckons, the clock ticks and we have no time to waste…”

ENDS

For further information, please call:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Near FM Radio interviewed Green Communities on Friday the 2nd of October

13th October 2015
Media Coverage

Near FM Radio interviewed Green Communities on Friday the 2nd of October, and the link to the podcast is attached below.

Robert Moss, Green Communities Manager, An Taisce, talks to Noel McGuinness about Green Communities, an environmental programme operated by An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit. Green Communities works to enhance local biodiversity and sustainability, supporting community groups by providing information, training and guidance across different areas of environmental management. Robert also talks about upcoming news and events including the Falling Fruit Project which involves volunteers picking and distributing the seasonal glut of local fruit.

http://nearfm.ie/podcast/?p=16603

News Source Name: 
Near FM

The Give-Away Budget - Mostly Ignores Climate Change

14th October 2015
Press Release

Budget 2016 has been labelled the ‘give-away’ Budget, and nowhere is this description more accurate than in what it tells us about this Government’s approach to preparing Ireland for the many threats and challenges that climate change will present in the immediate future.

What Budget 2016 ‘gives away’ is this Government’s stunning disengagement from the crisis that the World Bank recently identified as the most serious and urgent facing individual countries and humanity as a whole in the early 21st century.

The World Bank report, ‘Turn Down The Heat’ warned that, in the absence of drastic measures, we are on track for a 4°C hotter world “marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise”.

Every country on Earth has a shared moral imperative to act now, and to act together, to stave off a global catastrophe which threatens to wipe away all economic, health and social gains of the last 100 years and more.

In September 2014, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the UN in New York: “The hand of the future beckons, the clock ticks and we have no time to waste” in our battle to head off the worst impacts of climate change.

Which part of Budget 2016 lives up to An Taoiseach’s vow that “each of us must play our part”? The real give-away we would suggest is the betrayal of our shared future by a generation of Irish politicians and policymakers who, in the midst of the gravest crisis in at least half a century, are too caught up in petty election politics and beholden to powerful special interests to even be aware of the gathering ecological storm.

Where is the strategic investment in a low-carbon economy? Nowhere.

Where is the overarching vision to dramatically transform our transport, housing, energy and agriculture sectors towards genuine sustainability? Nowhere.

Where is the serious investment in adaptation to the projected impacts of climate change? Nowhere. (We must, however, acknowledge the positive move to commit extra funding to the Better Homes Programme which is an valuable element in improving the efficiency of our total housing stock but that is only a start in what is required).

Where is our political leadership that inspires the Irish public with a clear vision not just of the approaching crisis, but of how we will, working together, brace all sectors of Irish society to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change while mitigating to prevent future disasters? Nowhere.

Back in 2007, as the gathering global financial storm drew ever closer, the then Irish Government and its expert advisors and special interest lobbies assured the public of the “soft landing” that lay ahead for our dangerously overheated economy.

The current Government came to power in 2011 on the promise to never again play fast and loose with our country’s future, yet it has studiously ignored climate change, which has the very real potential to lay waste to the Irish economy, destroy our industrial and agriculture sectors and plunge us into poverty and chaos in the decades ahead.

John Gibbons, spokeperson for An Taisce's Climate Change Committee stated "Our government must be well aware of these well-documented existential risks but is determined instead to carry on regardless. We must expect – and demand – more from our political system."

ENDS

For further information, please call:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

An Taisce pursuing N86 Dingle case to Court of Appeal

21st October 2015
Press Release

An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland - today announced that it intends to pursue its case regarding the N86 Dingle road to the Court of Appeal.

John Harnett, chair of An Taisce commented: "The High Court's decision in this case raises points of exceptional public importance which go far beyond the matter of the N86 road itself. What is now a central issue in this case is whether Irish court proceedings have to be "fair" and "equitable". The High Court effectively said "no, they do not" in its judgement, and this simply cannot go unchallenged."

He continued: "We understand that the Eu Commission is watching this case very closely, as it concerns Ireland's compliance with EU and International law. The issues raised in this High Court judgement must be clarified."

An Taisce require a certificate from the High Court to allow them to appeal. The hearing of that certification application is provisionally scheduled for November 6th.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Wexford Opera Festival visit Corlican Graveyard

24th October 2015
News Item

The Wexford Local Association held a work party at Corlican Graveyard to tidy it up and repair the gate. On the same day the Wexford Opera Festival did a tour of the graveyard which 30 people attended including the curator of Johnstown Castle Museum, the Chair of the Wexford Historical Society and a number of Quakers with connections to Corlican. Brian Rickwood gave a lecture.

“Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into!"

25th October 2015
Press Release

Coalition partners Fine Gael and Labour are fast becoming the Laurel and Hardy of environmental regulation, with chaotic, contradictory and just plain wrong statements emanating from the government parties as they attempt to talk their way out of their shambolic non-position on tackling climate change.

Earlier this week, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes announced [Note 1] that ‘Ireland can meet 2020 emissions targets, according to the EU Commission’. Hayes claimed to have been told by EU Climate Commissioner Arias Canete that, allowing for flexibility mechanisms under EU rules, “Ireland is on course to meet its (2020) obligations”.

This statement may have come as a surprise to Commissioner Canete, whose actual report stated that while the EU overall would beat its 2020 emissions targets, “the report warned that Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and Austria would miss the 2020 target”, according to Euractiv [Note 2].

Within 48 hours of Hayes’ announcement that Ireland was on target to meet its legally mandated EU emissions reductions targets, his government colleague and Environment Minister, Labour’s Alan Kelly, admitted, in a newspaper interview ahead [Note 3] of the UN Global climate summit in Paris, that ‘it is no secret that Ireland is not going to meet the EU greenhouse emissions targets for 2020’.

Kelly went on to assert – incorrectly – that: “While we won’t meet the 2020 targets we are in a trajectory or a line that is going in the right direction”. Evidence from the EPA flatly contradicts Kelly’s view that Ireland is “going in the right direction”. According to the EPA’s latest emissions projections report: “Ireland is not on track towards decarbonising the economy in the long term in line with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 and will face steep challenges post-2020 unless further polices and measures are put in place over and above those envisaged between now and 2020.”

The chaotic double-speak being engaged in by Hayes and Kelly may best be explained by Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s own dazed and confused performance regarding climate, an issue he has chosen not to understand.

Having last year told the UN in New York that we need to show “conviction, clarity, courage and consistency” [Note 4] in responding to climate change, in reality, An Taoiseach has applied his political efforts to get Ireland off the hook for proposed EU fines that he said could reach as much as €5 billion. His breathtaking answer to Ireland facing EU emissions fines is: we won’t clean up our act, so just change the rules and give us a free pass!

Mr Kenny’s ethics-free approach to key environmental issues was again highlighted in a New York Times investigation [Note 5] on cynical lobbying by car-makers, which stated: “In the summer and fall of 2013, Ms Merkel pressed Brussels and succeeded in overturning an already concluded agreement on CO₂ emissions, postponing some regulations until 2021….Ms Merkel was said at the time to have worked with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, on the lobbying effort”.

The crisis that engulfed the German car industry as a result of the VW emissions rigging scandal proves yet again the scope for corruption of politics and the huge damage to the public interest when our leaders cozy up to powerful special interest groups, be they car makers, the farm lobby or energy companies. Many thousands of Europeans will have died prematurely or suffered extreme ill health as a result of the cynical deception by the Volkswagen group of its NOx emissions.

Sadly, this deeply cynical approach to public health and environmental issues in the corporate sector appears to be the norm, not the exception, as underlined by recent revelations on how oil giant Exxon was told in the late 1980s by its own scientists that global warming as a result of fossil fuel burning would lead to global climate destabilization by the early 21st century. Scandalously, Exxon not alone failed to act on this information; instead, it actively funded and promoted climate denial for the last two decades.

How many millions more will suffer in the future as leaders like Mr Kenny continue to cosy up to special interests and engage in a dangerous game of delay-and-deny, rather than following the best scientific advice and acting decisively on the public’s behalf to tackle the deadly by-products of industrial society, be they NOx, CO₂ or diesel particulates?

ENDS

For further information, please call:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES

Note 1 https://brianhayesdublin.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/ireland-can-meet-2020-emissions-target-according-to-the-commission-hayes/
Note 2 http://www.euractiv.com/sections/climate-environment/eu-will-beat-2020-emissions-target-wont-raise-it-without-backing-cop21
Note 3 http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/ireland-will-not-meet-2020-emissions-targets-says-kelly-1.2400736#.VigC3AQ4evU.email
Note 4 https://www.rte.ie/documents/news/kennyclimatespeech.pdf
Note 5 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/world/europe/germany-volkswagen-autos-merkel.html?_r=1

High Court quashes Edenderry Permission

27th October 2015
Press Release

Continued operation of power station was approved in 2013 without proper assessment of environmental effects, High Court holds

The High Court today upheld the case taken by An Taisce and quashed the permission granted by An Bord Pleanala to Bord Na Mona to extend the operating life of the peat and part biomass fueled power station at Edenderry Co Ofaly to 2023. This was on the grounds that the environmental impact of the peat extraction to fuel the continued operation of the power station was not assessed. The power stationburns up to 1.2 million tonnes of peat a year supplied by Bord na Mona.

A stay was placed on the quashing order until April 2016, to allow consideration of a second planning application which was granted by Offaly Co Co, but now under appeal to An Bord Plenala by An Tasice and Friends of the Irish Environment.

An Taisce’s case before the High Court was that, contrary to the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the environmental effects of extracting the peat fuel to be burned at Edenderry were not assessed before An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission to allow the plant burn peat from 2015 to 2023.

Giving the High Court's judgment earlier this month, Mr Justice Michael White held that there was "functional interdependence" between the power plant and the Bord na Mona bogs identified in the planning application.

"From any reasonable application of the objective facts of this project, there are possible indirect effects of the use of peat from these bogs on the environment," he added. "The difficulty is that [An Bord Pleanála] excluded completely the consideration of the indirect effects, when considering the planning application for the extension of life of the power plant," said Judge White.

The Court concluded that An Bord Pleanála "has interpreted the relevant legislation applying Article 3 of the Directive too narrowly".

Commenting on An Taisce's victory, Heritage Officer Ian Lumley said, "This was a real David versus Goliath struggle. This case underlines the crucial role An Taisce plays in the planning system as a prescribed consultee," added Lumley.

"Today we have defended and secured important public rights, because a proper impact assessment will give all of us the opportunity to examine the evidence of environmental impacts and give our input. Without this evidence and public consultation, any approval is uninformed, undemocratic, and ultimately unlawful" said Lumley. "By An Taisce addressing this in the Irish courts, and the Irish courts upholding EU law, this serves to reduce the massive reputational and cost risk to Ireland of action being taken against Ireland by the European Commission given the breach of EU law at issue."

"Bord na Mona announced recently that after 2030 it will no longer harvest energy peat.[Note 1] What it did not say is that it will by then have used up more or less all of its usable peat reserves in any event," concluded Lumley.

The High Court held that An Taisce was entitled to a declaration that where the environmental effects of extracting the peat fuel source for Edenderry power plant were not properly assessed for the purposes of the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, An Bord Pleanála is obliged to ensure the effectiveness of the Directive by subjecting those environmental effects to Environmental Impact Assessment before any permission is granted for the power plant.

An Taisce thanks its legal team for their excellent work on this case: solicitor Andrew Jackson and barristers John Kenny BL and James Devlin SC.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
Ian Lumley, Heritage Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES
1. Bord na Mona's statement regarding 2030 is here: http://www.bordnamona.ie/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Sustainability-2030.pdf

Increased Biofuel Obligation Rate Consultation

30th October 2015
Submission Summary

Decarbonisation Policy and Coordination Division Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, 29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2 (D02 X285).

RE: Consultation on Proposed Increase in Biofuel Obligation Rate

biofuel.obligation@dcenr.gov.ie

Dear Sir / Madam,

please see below for An Taisce's submission on the public consultation regarding a proposed increase in the biofuel obligation rate.

We would appreciate being kept appraised of any further consultations and developments in this subject area.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Lumley,

Heritage Officer

An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.

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Consultation on Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping for National Mitigation Plan

30th October 2015
Submission Summary

To: Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Dear Sir/Madam,

An Taisce attaches the following brief document as its submission to this Public Consultation. Our fully referenced Submission regarding the Draft NMP is available at http://www.antaisce.org/sites/antaisce.org/files/20150731_an_taisce_submission_national_mitigation_plan_0.pdf

We ask the Department and other readers to give full consideration to this contribution. In it we briefly outline reasons why the Scoping Report is too narrowly focused to provide an environmental assessment that respects the physical reality and environmental risks due to climate change. A much wider SEA is required for climate change plans and programmes, as is clearly called for in the European Commission document Guidance on Integrating Climate Change and Biodiversity into Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Please note that the none of the Report’s questions for respondents are numbered, making cross referencing of questions and answers difficult for any future Consultation follow-up. We urge the Department to ensure that pdfs for Consultation are more user-friendly in future.

As per Article 6 of the SEA Directive, can the Department make known to An Taisce any further consultation planned regarding the making of this policy and issue An Taisce with notification of any proposed amendments in good time for a response.

An Taisce Climate Change Committee

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