TEST ONLY - Please do not amend

11th January 2018
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An Taisce’s take on the National Planning Framework

22nd November 2017
Press Release

The draft National Planning Framework (NPF) aims to identify the best way to accommodate a million more people in Ireland by 2040, as well as catering for the existing aging population in a world facing increased climate change impact and biodiversity loss.

The time for people to make submission has past but shortly after publication there have been endless newspaper reports, mainly in regional newspapers, of local politicians who are highly critical of the essential theme of the plan.

The central proposition of the plan is that the country cannot afford to pay for the necessary physical and social infrastructure for modern society everywhere. Choices have to be made and the facts tell us that it is most efficient to service compact settlements above a certain size of around 10,000 inhabitants and primarily in 5 cities. Smaller settlements should not grow by more than around 15% in the next 20 years – a figure not so different from the original intention of the previous National Spatial Strategy that was never implemented.

In contrast to this outpouring of disdain, An Taisce strongly supports these principles, which we have promoted in many previous submissions. Scattering people thinly cross the country brings with it many problems:

  • social isolation
  • the difficulty in finding sites for critical infrastructure and renewable energy projects that don’t fit well close to where people live
  • it is a lost opportunity to develop strong villages and towns which can provide the range of amenities that we all seem to seek these days as well as a critical mass of population that modern businesses, both local and international, need to thrive.

We only need to see many small towns failing and main streets half closed to recognize that they lack the population within easy reach that they need to survive.

Rather than being a ‘crazy attack’ on rural Ireland as portrayed in the local press, this is rural Ireland’s only hope for survival. The draft NPF endorses the measures set out in the Action Plan for Rural Development. This provides a well-considered and appropriate focus on strengthening rural towns and villages which An Taisce fully endorses. Indeed, An Taisce has been a long-standing, but ignored, advocate for our rural towns and villages as linchpins for the rural economy and society.

The decline that has occurred in many Irish towns has been caused in part by the building of one off houses in the open countryside, which has been seen as a cost effective option for people. However, dispersed housing externalises very significant hidden costs to society at large. If the true costs were accounted for, settlement in isolated locations would be generally unaffordable for households. An Taisce supports the proposals that seek to improve the alternatives for house buyers, for example by providing serviced sites in the villages and other land reforms.

An Taisce supports the integration of the National Investment Plan with the NPF plan to ensure that communities are not encouraged to grow by zoning land for housing and employment without the necessary funding to fully support their needs. This happened in the past couple of decades when we nearly doubled our housing stock and has led to more and more people needing to commute to work and amenities absorbing precious personal time for home and family, producing congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions. (even electric cars won’t remedy all that!)

There are many objectives that An Taisce support throughout the draft plan, which is clearly informed by contemporary thinking on urban and rural design. This mainly stems from the need to create walkable communities with access to work and living. This facilitates a healthy lifestyle, reducing obesity and good physical and mental well being; it reduces the reliance on private motor transport and facilitates the option of public transport. The policy objective of building on brownfield sites, even public purchase of underused sites, is surely obvious to stop the sprawl.

But…and there’s always a ‘but’, that is not to say that An Taisce is happy with the plan. The chief concern is that it will not work. The primary goals are incomplete (not even mentioning the Sustainable Development Goals [1]). Apart from the population, regional distribution and urban location targets, only a small number of the remaining objectives contain specific targets and there are no mitigation measures to deal with negative impacts of the proposals. In particular it will not produce a country that can function within the planetary boundaries that must constrain growth to the resources available. Neither will it prevent seriously damaging the mainstay of our economy and society - that is a healthy environment, full of biodiversity, clean air and water. Nor will lead to the required reduction of carbon emissions that will ultimately be our downfall if not STOPPED.

“Realising our Sustainable Future” sets out nine National Policy objectives embracing the circular and bio-economy, sprawl, carbon footprint, renewable energy and green infrastructure in the preparation of land use plans. None of these objectives contain any specific percentage-based or timetabled targets. All are phrased as vague general objectives to “support” “promote” or “improve”, or in the case of climate to “reduce our carbon footprint”.

An Taisce’s submission [2] goes through all the key goals and objectives pointing out the inconsistencies with current government policy and proposing policies and planning measures for the creation of alternative kinds of places.

A recurring theme in An Taisce’s submission is the need to create walkable communities and so no new housing development should be allowed if it is greater than 15- minute walking distance from basic services and infrastructure 
 e.g. public transport, supermarket, childcare facilities, school, post offices, etc. The corollary to this is the need to adopt national targets for the major percentage of new housing and employment locations to be located with walkable access to public transport and safe cycling and walking routes.

All new buildings must be either ‘energy positive’ or ‘Zero Energy’; but even more importantly, a rapid programme of deep retrofit (to near zero energy) of the existing national building stock must be activated without delay. 


Naturally An Taisce is also concerned that the draft NPF contains no national policy objectives in relation to our cultural heritage, including architectural and archaeological heritage, and landscape. Historic Urban Centres are an irreplaceably social and cultural focus of identity and economic resources, which should not be compromised by high rise or other inappropriate development. 
High density is not synonymous with high rise.

An Taisce’s prescribed status also includes a special brief to review and comment on planning applications that may impact on the natural environment, that is areas that are designated as special protection areas for their value in safeguarding biodiversity etc. Biodiversity and natural heritage are not given the status of any specific National Policy Objective or National Strategic Outcome measure in the Draft NPF. This is a major omission and An Taisce calls for it to be redressed.

Similarly current agricultural practices are known to be a major source of water pollution. Yet the current annual cattle herd increase of 6% per annum is being accommodated by the planning system in granting permission for additional animal housing and poor enforcement control of wetland drainage. The overlapping impact of slurry and fertilizer run-off is affecting water quality. The conflict between the provisions for “Ongoing Support through a well-funded Common Agricultural Policy for the Agri flood sector” and meeting climate and biodiversity targets as well as food security is not addressed. The draft NPF must advocate a decisive shift away from current polluting and carbon-intensive agriculture and settlement patterns towards a new relocalised vision for rural Ireland focused on our historic network of rural towns and villages.

Inevitably there is still much to be done to ensure we reduce our reliance on private motor transport if we are to make any headway in reducing our carbon emissions but this plan isn’t going to be the driver of that outcome! There is no target of reducing per capita car ownership or use, or increase in modal share of interregional passenger /bus use, or rail freight. Without targets the fine words can come to nothing and indeed there are worrying objectives regarding ‘connectivity’ and the indication that this will mean new roads. An Taisce’s proposals are different. All further road investment must be limited to locations where urban and village bypassing and enhanced safety provision is required and the interregional rail network should be maximized in capacity for passenger and freight use, including travel speed enhancement. 


Perhaps more controversial is An Taisce’s claim that airport capacity targets must be revised in accordance with climate emissions capacity limits whilst initiating Ireland-UK co-operation of development of low carbon sail/rail connectivity capacity and maximizing the potential of rail freight connectivity to ports, including reopening of Foynes Limerick 
freight rail line. 
Controversial perhaps but sooner rather than later we will have reduce the amount of flying, particularly of frequent fliers who make up the bulk of demand, if we are to live within the planets capacity to provide the resources needed and to reduce the damage we are doing to the climate.

Finally we quote in brief directly from An Taisce’s submission:

The challenges of climate change cannot be addressed through technology alone, but require thoroughgoing societal change and the implementation of robust, proactive planning measures for the creation of alternative kinds of places. As a strategy which aims to shape Ireland well into the 21st Century, it is essential, therefore, that the entire worldview sustaining the Draft NPF vision be critically re-thought, along the lines of the following key principles:

  1. Equity: Rather than the promotion of economic growth as the primary aim and aspiration of Ireland 2040, An Taisce argues for the creation of a better society through a planning and land system that spreads public goods to meet societal needs.
  2. Localisation: a core NPF objective should be that no new housing development shall be permissible which is greater than 15- minute walking distance from basic services and infrastructure.
  3. Pragmatism: We must be pragmatic and realise that our current settlement patterns are ‘locked in’ and represent ‘facts on the ground’. Instead of redirecting scarce resources towards achieving implausible regional population targets, the focus of the Draft NPF should therefore be the adaptation task and retrofitting our inherited and widely dispersed settlement structures to make them more resilient and adaptive
  4. Land Reform: In the absence of a firm political commitment to national planning, the market produces the places in which we live, in ways which meet a concern for individualism and profit rather than the needs of society. Land reform is therefore essential to give the public and communities a stake in development and future value. To acquire land to meet public need, Land Value Tax, CPOs and other powers must be used as levers to transfer ownership from private landowners and developers who will not build, to communities, local authorities and other accountable bodies who will.
  5. Decarbonising Infrastructure: The Draft NPF is replete with contradictory objectives which, on the one hand, advocate the decarbonisation of society but, on the other hand, promote the development of airports, motorways, data centres etc., which are carbon and energy intensive infrastructures.
  6. A New Rurality: The current policy approach to Ireland’s rural areas is productivism, either in large- scale agri-business or suburbanised housing. Ireland’s low population density and rural areas can be our most precious resource for a post-carbon world in terms of sustainable local food production, native forestry, and decentralised energy generation through, for example, small-scale wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal, combined heat and power, and solar. If planned correctly, this opportunity could be a significant boon for rural communities, help increase their resilience and buffer them from the vulnerabilities of global uncertainty and energy price inflation.

For a plan to be something we intend to do, it requires clearly stated, implementable and legally enforceable targets to meet these objectives with commensurate mitigation targets. If the draft NPF does not proceed on this basis, it could be exposed to legal action at national and EU level.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
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
[1] UN Sustainable Development Goals http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html
[2] An Taisce’s submission to the draft National Planning Framework http://www.antaisce.org/sites/antaisce.org/files/20171011-npf.pdf

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.

EPA Climate Change figures climb again - No political will in sight

27th November 2017
Press Release

In December 2015, Ireland along with nearly 200 other nations signed up to its commitment to do our full and fair share to ensure carbon emissions are reduced in line with the advice from science so that global warming does not irreversibly destabilise the world’s climate system.

Actions, however, speak far louder than words. As data produced today by the Environment Protection Agency confirm, instead of the required sharp reductions, Irish greenhouse gas emissions instead climbed in 2016, to the equivalent of 61.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂), the highest level since before the economic crash.

In just the last two years, total national emissions have increased by 7.3% or 4.16 million tonnes of CO₂. Ireland is legally mandated by the EU to reduce national emissions by 20% by 2020. By comparison, Scotland has already achieved its far more ambitious 2020 emissions target cut of 42%, and achieved these five years ahead of target.

“There is no magic involved. The missing ingredient in Ireland is political will and the backbone to stand up to the special pleading of well-funded lobby groups”, according to John Gibbons, An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee spokesperson. He continued “Ireland has among the best average wind speeds in Europe, yet the share of wind energy on the grid actually declined by nearly 2% last year, while there was an overall increase of 3.8% in the emissions intensity of power generation.”

Ireland’s shambolic transport sector has recorded its fourth straight year of emissions growth, adding 3.7%, or nearly half a million tons of additional CO₂ in 2016 versus the previous year. The other price of this failure is ever-worsening traffic gridlock as the excessively car-dependent transport model inevitably leads to congestion, inefficiency and chaos. The ongoing neglect of cycling and public transport is fuelling this national transport debacle.

Agriculture and transport together accounted for almost three quarters of Ireland’s entire EU 2020 target sector non-ETS emissions in 2016. Since 2011 agricultural sector emissions have increased by +10.2%, contrary to the misleading media talking points being recently repeated by agri lobbyists. Last year, agricultural emissions rose by the equivalent of over half a million tonnes of CO₂. This followed a 6.2% increase in dairy cow numbers and a 4% increase in milk production. For 2017, the quantity of nitrogen fertiliser used is already known to be up by 12%, which will push agri-sector emissions even higher than in 2005, the reference year for a 20% ‘Non-ETS’ reduction by 2020.

Dairy and beef production are both highly emissions-intensive, and today’s EPA data proves that the industry spin about ‘efficiency’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ is all just hot air. There is no effective way of reducing Irish agriculture’s massive emissions profile without tackling the root cause of these emissions: ever more, fertiliser-boosted grass fed to ever more cattle results in ever more climate pollution. Controlling beef and dairy emissions requires a production cap or a price on agricultural emissions so that efficiencies can actually be realised.

This underlines the findings of an EU study published in April this year that found Irish agriculture to be the least ‘climate-efficient’ in the entire EU28. Ireland produced the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions per euro of agricultural output, the study concluded.

“Governments come and governments go, but CO₂ lingers in the atmosphere for decades to centuries. Increasing agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions greatly increases Ireland’s responsibility for near-term climate warming. The decisions we take and fail to take today will have long-term implications for our children and their children. True sustainability means providing for our needs today without compromising the needs of future generations. Ireland is today stealing from the future, calling it growth and leaving a toxic legacy to all future generations”, according to John Gibbons.

He continued “We as a nation are better than this. The recent Citizens’ Assembly recommendations proved that the Irish public is prepared to back strong action to tackle climate change, but these shocking pollution figures from the EPA show Ireland’s citizens are being shamefully betrayed by its political and business classes for short term gain.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +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 i www.antaisce.org

Notes

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.

4th Nitrates Action Plan - SEA

29th November 2017
Submission Summary

An Taisce's Submission to the Draft 4th Nitrates Action Programme. 28th November 2017

Evaluation of RPS Environmental Report on thet Strategic Environmental Assessment Report (SEA) of the 4th. Draft Nitrates Action Programme 2018-2021

November 2017

  1. WHY A LEGALLY COMPLIANT SEA WITH ONGOING MONITORING AND APPROPRIATE REMEDIAL ACTION IS REQUIRED

The compliance of the Draft 4th. Nitrates Action Programme SEA Environmental Report with the legal requirements of the SEA Directive 2001/42/EC needs to be assessed and validated.

The SEA Environmental Report needs to asses and mitigate the impact on all of the considerations listed in the SEA Directive namely: “Biodiversity, flora and fauna population human health, soil, water landscape air climatic factors, material assets and cultural architectural and archaeological heritage” as well as “interrelationships”.

The 4th. Nitrates Action Programme needs to comply with Annex (1) (g) of the Directive to identify:

the measures envisaged to prevent, reduce and as fully as possible offset any significant adverse effects on the environment of implementing the plan or programme;

The adoption of plan is only part of the SEA process which then requires under Article 10 ongoing implementation action to:

"monitor the significant environmental effects of the implementation” of the plan “in order, inter alia, to identify at an early stage unforeseen adverse effects, and to be able to undertake appropriate remedial action

Failure to carry out an effective SEA and put adequate monitoring and remedial action in place would expose Ireland to legal action at national and EU level.

The proposed programme also needs to address the interrelationship of bovine agricultural expansion with nitrous oxide as well as methane emissions, as well as climate vulnerability and fodder supply, having regard to the provisions of Section 15 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015

Full submission:

Download PDF: 
Download PDF (1.1 MB)

Submission to Doonbeg Further Information

30th November 2017
Submission Summary
Download PDF: 
Download PDF (1.82 MB)

Doonbeg - The further information supplied has not adequately addressed the ecological issues

30th November 2017
Press Release

An Taisce have today made a submission [Note 1] to Clare County Council in respect of the 'Further Information' supplied by Trump International Golf Links (TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd) in repect of their planning application for coastal erosion management works (Planning Reference 16/1012)

The further information supplied by TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd has not adequately addressed the ecological issues with the application. This is largely because they are erroneously conflating the erosion of the dune frontage as a result of the golf course stopping the dunes' movement with the natural erosion associated with normal dune dynamics. That in turn has led them to claim that the do-nothing scenario (leaving the dunes along with no hard protections) will be "profoundly detrimental" to the dune habitats. So the premise of all of their arguments that the proposed walls will help the dunes is incorrect.

Therefore, An Taisce’s initial concerns about the impact of the proposal on the habitats and species protected by the Carrowmore Dunes SAC still stand.

Ian Lumley, Advocacy Officer of An Taisce stated "The solution being put forward by Trump International Golf Links Ltd is bad for the people who love White Strand the Beach, Surf and Dunes and the protected habitats and species that depend upon its sustainable management. The further information has not changed the negative impacts. The conservation of sand dunes internationally has proven that they are more cost effective at protecting the coast than hard sea defenses and that they supply valued biodiversity and ecosystem services to local communities. The scientific consensus is that sea walls are not compatible with sand dune conservation. The golf course design simply has to change."

There are strong parallels between the Doonbeg case and the impact on sand dunes at the Trump International Golf Links Menie golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The golf course overlaps the Foveran Links Site of Special Scientific Interest, which was designated as such because it was one of the prime examples of mobile sand dune systems in the UK. Before the golf course was constructed the dunes naturally shifted northward by as much as 11 metres per year over an area of 15 hectares. However, when TIGL stabilised the dunes to protect the golf course, their natural movement was severely impeded. Dr Jim Hansom, a geomorphologist at Glasgow University, said in an interview with the BBC (published 8 November 2017) that this loss of natural dynamism will likely result in the dunes losing their designation as an SSSI. Similarly, Scottish Natural Heritage, which is now assessing the status of the Foveran Links SSSI, stated that the golf course had caused habitat loss and damage to the dune system. [Note 2]

An Taisce submit that the further information provided by the applicant has not adequately addressed the concerns expressed by the PA because the response:

  1. has erroneously interpreted the relationship between the development and the normal dune dynamics and therefore not adequately scientifically justified the reasoning behind the protection works and
  2. has failed to provide the necessary details, assessments, and surveys to satisfactorily conclude that the proposal would result in no adverse impacts to the receiving environment.

It still cannot be concluded that the development would not have significant adverse impacts on the SAC and the beach site as a whole, thereby breaching Ireland’s legal obligations under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Therefore, on the basis of the further information provided, An Taisce must again object to the proposed coastal protection works.

It is expected that Clare County Council will make their decision by 21st December 2017 and it would then be popssible for parties to appeal their decision to An Bord Pleanala (The Planning Board).

An Taisce have also written to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht requesting enforcement inspection of the original planning application for the golf course in 1998. [Note 1 - Appendix]

ENDS

For further information, contact:
Ian Lumley, An Taisce Advocacy Officer: +353 1 454 1786
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

[1] An Taisce's third (and current submission) http://www.antaisce.org/sites/antaisce.org/files/20171130-02-161012rfi.pdf
[2] BBC report on the detrimental effects of the TIGL golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-41845278
[3] An Taisce's second submission on this application https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEN3ZUQ2V6cUhqZEE/view?usp=sharing
[4] An Taisce’s first submission on this application https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEX1dWemhjdmJFQjg/view?usp=sharing
[5] National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) (2014b) Carrowmore Dunes SAC Conservation Objectives Supporting Document: Marine Habitats, [online] available: http://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/002250%20Carrowmore%20Dunes%20SAC%20Marine%20Supporting%20Doc%20V1.pdf
[6] An Taisce press release 3rd February 2017 "An Taisce makes second submission to the Trump’s Doonbeg Wall" http://www.antaisce.org/articles/an-taisce-makes-second-submission-to-the-trump%E2%80%99s-doonbeg-wall
[7] An Taisce welcomes the news that plans for construction of a 2.8km coastal wall at Doonbeg, Co. Clare have been abandoned. An Taisce press release, when the original proposal for a 2.8 km wall was withdrawn http://www.antaisce.org/articles/proposed-construction-of-28km-wall-abandoned-at-doonbeg-golf-course
[8] An Taisce’s submission to Clare County Council: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEX1dWemhjdmJFQjg/view?usp=sharing
[9] National Parks and Wildlife Service (2014) Carrowmore Dunes SAC (site code 2250) Conservation objectives supporting document - Coastal Habitats https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/002250%20Carrowmore%20Dunes%20SAC%20Coastal%20Supporting%20Doc%20V1.pdf
[10] - Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) (2000) Beach Dunes: A Guide to Managing Coastal Erosion in Beach/Dune Systems, [online]. Available at: http://www.snh.gov.uk/publications-data-and-research/publications/searchthe-catalogue/publication-detail/?id=112 [accessed: 02/06/2016A]
[11] An Taisce’s submission calls on Donald Trump to make Doonbeg Golf Course Great. Press release on An Taisce's submission to the original Wall at Doonbeg. http://www.antaisce.org/articles/an-taisce%E2%80%99s-submission-calls-on-donald-trump-to-make-doonbeg-golf-course-great

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.

Phil Hogan brings Environmental Reality to FoodWise2025 Event

4th December 2017
Press Release

An Taisce welcomes the strong statements issued today by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan at the Food Wise 2025 conference in Dublin.

Commissioner Hogan echoed the repeated criticisms made by environmental NGOs, including An Taisce, when he warned today that Ireland’s dire performance on climate change sees us “sleepwalking towards further EU fines under the renewable energy directive by our lack of investment in the energy grid”.

The Commissioner added that: “Ireland needs to wake up, and fast, to the reality that we are part of a European Union that has assumed the role of global leader in the climate challenge. Donald Tusk said that in relation to Brexit, 'we are all in this together – ní neart go cur le chéile'. That is equally true of the climate challenge.”

The Commissioner pointed out that the recently published Climate Change Performance Index had seen Ireland plummet 28 places to 49th out of 56 countries, and is now the very worst ranked performer on climate change in the entire European Union.

But, all economic sectors must play their part and policies, including those relating to the agri-food sector, need to play some serious catch-up to ensure that targets are met.

Mr Hogan added that other sectors beyond the agriculture industry were also implicated, but he added: “the most recent EPA figures are sobering, showing an increase in agricultural emissions last year by 2.7 per cent, following a 1.5 per cent increase in 2015. It's little consolation that emissions are growing faster in the energy and transport sectors”.

And in what sounded like a thinly veiled rebuff to the IFA, which has championed denial and delay on facing up to climate action, Commissioner Hogan added: “I am making the point at this conference to remind you that the day has gone where we can pay lip service to sustainability and climate action”.

Mr Hogan was also critical of the “rhetoric” of sustainability contained in the industry-written Food Wise 2025 document and what he called “operational reality”. He pointed to official EPA figures showing a 3.5 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions last year. He added “Ireland is one of only four countries in the European area where greenhouse gas emissions are still above 1990 levels. A failure to tackle the issue could cost the country large sums of money in relation to carbon credits by 2020”.

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce’s Communication Officer, who also spoke at the event, stated “we welcome the fact that Commissioner Hogan has today said out loud exactly what we and others in the environmental NGO have been repeatedly attacked for saying publicly, that there is no time left for obfuscation and lip service".

Charles Stanley-Smith continued “Much of the ‘green’ rhetoric emanating from the industry via organisations like Bord Bia is greenwash designed to confuse the public and mislead the media about the true high emissions pathway Ireland is locked into, and the massive costs, both ecological and economic, that this entails.”

An Taisce also warmly welcomes comments today from EPA chief, Laura Burke, who stated that Ireland cannot continue to promote ourselves as “green and clean” and have “spin that isn’t matched by reality”.

These are precisely the points we at An Taisce have been ridiculed for trying to make. We very much welcome today’s dramatic interventions by both Commissioner Hogan and Laura Burke.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +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 i www.antaisce.org

Notes

Also see Seán Cummins Dec 4, 2017, 4:58pm Agriland - We won’t meet climate change targets unless we stop eating meat’ Charles Stanley-Smith speaking at Foodwise2025 today. http://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/we-wont-meet-climate-change-targets-unless-we-stop-eating-meat/

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.

An Taisce regrets Doonbeg Planning Grant

21st December 2017
Press Release

An Taisce understands that Clare County Council have granted the application by Trump International Golf Links (TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd) in repect of their planning application for coastal erosion management works (Planning Reference 16/1012).

Unfortunately the details and conditions of the grant will not be available until the morning. An Taisce will not be making a decision as to whether it will appeal to An Bord Pleanála until it has had a chance to study the details of the grant.

An Taisce is also seeking information from the Minister for Culture Heritage and Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan to determine what action the National Parks and Wildlife Service ( NPWS) is taking in response to the decision. The NPWS had made a highly critical submission on the proposal on sceintific grounds, so that tinformation is being sought as to whether an appeal by the NPWS to An Bord Pleanala is now being proposed.

In view of the ecological damege which has occured at the Trump family golf course at Menie in Scotland, An Taisce is also seeking intervention by Minister for Culture Heritage and Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan to investigate the site and take action ensure that the nature conservation conditions attached to the 1999 planning permission for the golf course development are being complied with.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
Ian Lumley, An Taisce Advocacy Officer: +353 83 153 2384
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

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.

Happy Christmas from An Taisce

24th December 2017
Report

Dear Fellow Member

Wishing you a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Thank you very much for your continued support for An Taisce’s mission. Through your membership, we strive to preserve and protect Ireland’s unique heritage. This year, we are introducing a new way for you and fellow members to help preserve and protect our natural and built environments by joining our new Heritage membership group.

Please think of joining as a Heritage Society member at €250 per annum

When you renew your membership, please consider joining this new leadership level. You will continue to enjoy the usual benefits of membership plus you will receive additional benefits including invitations to special An Taisce events and a range of opportunities to meet fellow members and experienced activists for tours and lectures. Special benefits may include a walking tour of Dublin’s historic buildings, a walk through a threatened natural setting, or the Chairman’s dinner.

We need your partnership in this special opportunity but most importantly, your gift provides an extra boost to our efforts to fight for Ireland’s heritage.

If you wish to take up this opportunity please go to http://www.antaisce.org/ireland/renewal-your-taisce-membership.

John Pierce
Chair, An Taisce

PS Have your say in An Taisce’s future.

An Taisce has been revisiting its vision and mission to ensure that it is appropriate to today’s world. Please let us have your views by completing the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PRFKMCF.

Thank you for your input and be assured that it will be taken into account.

Ireland’s cop-out on Effort-Sharing Regulation limits climate action and ensures everyone loses out.

29th December 2017
Press Release

On 21 December, the Estonian EU Presidency and the European Parliament reached a provisional deal on the Effort Sharing Regulation to ensure further emission reductions in sectors falling outside the scope of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) for the period 2021-2030.

Most of Europe is taking its commitment to making emission reductions seriously, but Ireland has been rewarded for doing nothing at all toward any effective climate mitigation policy and not achieving any planning to cut whole-economy emissions. Ireland’s open economy continually rides the economic wave up to higher emissions with the added rubber-stamped push for increasing agri emissions under Food Wise 2025. The only effective Irish climate ‘policy’ appears to be economic recession. That’s a bad plan.

Ireland has been rewarded for taking the moral hazard of relying on other EU nations to achieve their reductions and for betting on no ongoing post-2020 enforcement of the 2020 targets. The new starting point voids the 2020 target and rewards Ireland’s currently fast-rising emissions. It also incentivises Ireland to increase emissions in the immediate future. New, large and poorly justified ‘flexibilities’ – including ‘offsets’ from forestry carbon uptake when soils and wetlands emit even more carbon than the forestry sequesters – will enable the appearance of compliance until very late toward 2030 at which point Ireland can again claim, as it has done repeatedly this time, that it was ‘all too difficult'.

Rewarding moral hazard takers in this way is a recipe for certain future failure. If even the EU cannot enforce international mitigation rules then that bodes very ill for the weakness of international carbon governance in general.

All this appears to be the result of Ireland playing a diplomatic blinder in delaying climate action on behalf of business as usual vested interests. That would not have been successful unless other nations were doing the same but as we know Ireland punches above its weight in leveraging diplomacy to abort climate action.

Those, like the IFA, spinning this result as a success for Ireland are those enabling and benefiting from ‘predatory delay’, aiming to prevent emissions regulation and levies on climate pollution, despite the costs for others. It’s an ‘All the Ds strategy’: achieving Delay by Diversion, Distraction, Disinformation and Denial. It is highly effective in assisting Irish vested interests to continue adding to climate instability. It is dismal, disastrous and dangerous for our collective future.

Imagine if instead all this hard work by Irish politicians had been in the cause of action, ability and achievement. Imagine if rather than procrastinating and then saying targets are “too challenging” Ireland’s Government and departments actually made the difficult decisions aligned with the Paris Agreement and set policies to cut total emissions rapidly steadily year-on-year, every year.

We need to do more than imagine though. Ireland is failing to deliver and is instead acting as an architect for further failure. It’s past time to act. An Taisce urges Ireland’s citizens, businesses and institutions to contact their politicians to drive climate action now.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
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

Headline Aims of proposed deal:

  • Non-ETS sectors (agriculture, transport, buildings, waste, smaller industry and F-gases) are to achieve a 30% overall reduction across the EU by 2030 compared to 2005 through nations achieving individual targets with the help of a new Starting Point and new Flexibilities, with a requirement to meet two Compliance checks.

Starting Point: To be based on average 2016-2018 emissions to start in May 2019

  • This is a massive let-off for Ireland. Rather than starting from the 2020 target of -20% relative to 2005 levels, the target is reset to Ireland’s 2016-2018 failure level of only about -5% relative to 2005 emissions.
  • So Ireland has an incentive to drive up emissions as high as possible in 2016-2018 to get an easier overall target. So far that’s exactly what is playing out.
  • (Note: Barring economic downturns and Brexit, Irish non-ETS emissions are currently on track to return to the 2005 level by 2020, so Ireland is on track to have achieved nothing at all.)
  • If there is any financial penalty for non-compliance with the EU2020 target it may only be applied as a one off payment rather than an ongoing failure.

Targets: * As with the 2020 target, nations are given a linear pathway from their Starting Point 2019 emissions to their 2030 target. Summing the allowed emissions over 2020 to 2030 gives the cumulative target. * Ireland has been given a -30% relative to 2005 target but has been awarded 9.6% in ‘flexibilities’ that reduce this to about -20.4%. Effectively, Ireland has managed to obtain a 2030 target that is much the same as the 2020 target.

Flexibilities:

  • Land use carbon dioxide ‘removals’ by forestry and possibly by soils are to be allowed up to a set amount for each nation. Ireland has been allocated a large -5.6%.
  • Trouble is that Irish afforestation (even if desirable, e.g. biodiversity & pollution problems) is not achieving level needed to ensure forest carbon stock increases.
  • Also land use in Ireland is a net emitter to the tune of over 4 MtCO₂e/yr even accounting for over 4 MtCO₂e ‘removals’ by forestry and soils due to over 8 MtCO₂e/yr in emissions from grasslands and wetlands.
  • An additional 4% comes out of transfers of allocations in the ETS sector. The ETS is plagued by free allocations.

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.

Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies - Is planning a useful tool to protect the environment?

10th January 2018
Report

Dear Member,

Due to illness we have had to postpone our workshop to Wednesday 10th January – which gives you more time to book.

It’s not too late to book for the Planning Workshop being organised by An Taisce in Tailors Hall on January 10th 10.30-4.00pm

It’s free – but please book here, to allow us to track numbers and arrange for lunch (sandwiches): https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/regional-spatial-and-economic-strategy-workshop-tickets-41696418109

The aim is to help environmentalists use the planning system to achieve their goal of protecting the built and natural environment.

Following the hugely contested draft National Planning Framework the government is now inviting pre-draft submissions to the new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies.

How should we respond? It’s not easy but during the day we will offer some suggestions and useful approaches.

The final programme will be circulated to registered attendees later this week with appropriate handouts but as an example the day will cover topics such as:

  • Introduction and a brief account of what planning can achieve
  • The current status of National Planning Framework and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies
  • What questions have the government asked us to respond to?
  • The importance of Strategic Environmental Assessment
  • A guided discussion on how local input can be valuable

Presentations will be kept short with plenty of time for questions and discussion