An Taisce May 2015 eZine
Bat Walk and Talk, Donegal Town, May 5th @ 8 p.m.
Bat Walk and Talk, Donegal Town.
The Donegal Association of An Taisce invites all who are interested to a guided nature nature walk and talk about bats on Tuesday May 5th next at 8 p.m. We meet at County Donegal Education Centre, Floor 2/3 Pier 1, Quay St. Donegal Town. We start the evening with a presentation on bats. We then go for a short walk through bat habitats such as the water’s edge and trees in the town. Sonic Bat Detectors will be used to identify bats on the wing. Our guide is Aengus Kennedy, NatireNorthwest nature guide, who guided many walks for the public and for schools throughout Donegal, including bat walks in Glenveagh National Park.
Everyone Welcome. It is free.
Contact: Noel Foley, Donegal Association of An Taisce: firstname.lastname@example.org, 087 2515525
Bats are fascinating creatures. They are our only flying mammals. They are warm blooded and give birth to live young which they suckle with milk. Ireland has ten bat species. All our bats eat insects and spiders, which they catch in the air or pick off foliage or the ground. Ireland’s smallest bat, the soprano pipistrelle can eat between 3,000 and 4,000 insects in a night. Bats are not blind. They can see perfectly well. They can hunt at night because they use the echoes they receive back from their high pitched “squeaks” to catch small insects in flight. This is called their echolocation system.
Sonic Bat Detectors One of the best ways to tell bat species apart is by using a bat detector. A Sonic Bat Detector makes these very high pitched echolocation calls audible to humans. Different bat species make different calls which can help identify them.
Unburnable Carbon: Which fuels must remain unburned to limit global warming
Dr Christophe McGlade, Western Gateway Building, May 6th, 18.00-19.30
The Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork in association with UCC’s Energy Policy and Modelling Group, will host a lecture by Dr Christoph McGlade on the topic of “Unburnable Carbon: Which fuels must remain unburned to limit global warming” on May 6th in the Western Gateway Building (6-7.30 PM). See below for links to recent press coverage on this topic and further details of event.
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to recent research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. The study identified the geographic location of existing reserves that should remain unused and so sets out the regions that stand to lose most from achieving the 2°C goal. Lead author Dr Christophe McGlade, Research Associate at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources will present findings of the study. The study has direct relevance for global fossil fuel markets and important implications for countries like Ireland with a high reliance on imported fossil fuels. The authors show that the overwhelming majority of the huge coal reserves in China, Russia and the United States should remain unused along with over 260 thousand million barrels oil reserves in the Middle East, equivalent to all of the oil reserves held by Saudi Arabia. The Middle East should also leave over 60% of its gas reserves in the ground. The development of resources in the Arctic and any increase in unconventional oil – oil of a poor quality which is hard to extract – are also found to be inconsistent with efforts to limit climate change.
An introduction to the event and relevance for Ireland will be given by the chairman for the evening Dr Fergal McNamara who is senior energy advisor at DCENR. Dr Brian Ó Gallachóir of UCC’s Energy Policy and Modelling Group will also give a short talk on research in UCC investigating options for reducing Ireland dependency on imported fossils fuels and reducing carbon emissions. This will start at 18:00 sharp.
About the Speaker Dr Christophe McGlade is an energy systems modeller with extensive experience in using and developing energy models. He completed his PhD at the UCL Energy Institute which aimed to characterise quantitatively the uncertainties that have most influence on long-term projections of oil and gas production. Following his PhD, Christophe joined the Institute for Sustainable Resources as a Research Associate and he is currently lead researcher for the Resources and Vectors theme of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). Prior to joining UCL, Christophe gained a BA and MSci from Queens' College at the University of Cambridge in Theoretical and Experimental Physics. After graduating he joined the multi-disciplinary construction consultancy Capita Symonds working as a Forensic Researcher
Please register for the event at link below:
Bat Walk and Talk, Ardara. May 8th @ 8 p.m.
Friday May 8th 2015 @ 8 p.m. Meet at Ardara Heritage Centre The evening will start with a presentation on bats in the Heritage Centre, Ardara. This will be followed by a short walk through bats habitats such as the river’s edge and trees in Ardara town. Sonic Bat Detectors will be used to identify bats on the wing. Guide: Aengus Kennedy, nature guide who guided many walks for the public and for schools throughout Donegal, including bat walks in Glenveagh National Park. Everyone Welcome - Free Contact: Noel Foley, Donegal Association of An Taisce: email@example.com, 087 2515525
Bats are fascinating creatures. They are our only flying mammals. They are warm blooded and give birth to live young which they suckle with milk. Ireland has ten bat species. All our bats eat insects and spiders, which they catch in the air or pick off foliage or the ground. Ireland’s smallest bat, the soprano pipistrelle can eat between 3,000 and 4,000 insects in a night. Bats are not blind. They can see perfectly well. They can hunt at night because they use the echoes they receive back from their high pitched “squeaks” to catch small insects in flight. This is called their echolocation system. Sonic Bat Detectors One of the best ways to tell bat species apart is by using a bat detector. A Sonic Bat Detector makes these very high pitched echolocation calls audible to humans. Different bat species make different calls which can help identify them.
Learning local birdsong, Ramelton, May 12th @ 7 p.m.
One hour presentation on garden birds through the seasons plus a focus on 8 key birdsongs. Followed by a 1 hour walk in the area listening to and learning some local bird songs. Tea/Coffee. Guide Aengus Kennedy, NatureNorthwest.
Booking Essential: Either http://naturenorthwest.ie/upcoming-events/ or Aengus on 086 812 3019
Dun Laoghaire Branch Annual General Meeting
The Dun Laoghaire Branch will hold its Annual General Meeting at 8pm with a talk afterwards from Dr Danielle Senga Green on 'Stick in the Mud' - hidden diversity at Booterstown Marsh and threats from plastic pollution.
Food Sovereignty Assembly 2015: A New Vision for Food and Agriculture
Crisis comes from the Greek – krisis - which means “decision”. Our world is currently experiencing a nexus of crises – climatic, economic, financial, social and political, which are forcing us as citizens and human beings to decide in what kind of world we want to live.
All over Ireland, people are also thinking about how the last twenty years have transformed us, and of what the next twenty may bring. On the ground people are already putting into practice alternatives which offer a really sustainable future for our people and our planet.
Above all, this is true in our food and agriculture systems. We are finding better ways of producing food for people, of nurturing our land and our animals. Of putting life back into communities by rebuilding food systems which have been lost between the many links of the industrial and corporate food chain. Of providing livelihoods, of working with and not against nature. We are doing this in the knowledge that across the world, people are coming together to do the very same thing, and that we are not alone.
We know that the future of our society on this planet will be defined by the choices made by its people. It is up to us to define the kind of future we want for our land and our food.
This 15th of May, we want to build a vision for a new direction for food and agriculture in Ireland, and beyond, including:
- How our food is produced – how we farm, who farms, how we eat, what we farm, what we eat, who eats it
- How our food is distributed – where we get our food, who controls our food supply, who buys it, who sells it, who processes it
- How we manage our commons – who owns our land, our water, our seeds, our resources, who manages them, who benefits
- How we shape our public policies – how are they formed, where are they formed, how do they impact us, who benefits, who doesn't
Admission free but booking essential. Tea/coffee will be provided – lunch not included. Please confirm attendance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01 8827563
Organised by Afri and Food Sovereignty Ireland
Supported by Trócaire
Learning Local Birdsong, Stranorlar/Ballybofey May 15th @ 7 p.m.
One hour presentation on garden birds through the seasons plus a focus on 8 key birdsongs. Followed by a 1 hour walk in the Drumboe area listening to and learning some local bird songs. Guide Aengus Kennedy, NatureNorthwest.
North Tipperary Association AGM - Talk by John Gibbons
North Tipperary Association AGM
Followed by a talk by John Gibbons of An Taisce's Climate Change Committee
'Climate change – the world’s greatest ever communications failure’.
The science of climate change is unequivocal. The world faces a convergence of related crises which together profoundly threaten our prosperity, our well being, even our very existence. Yes, while science has clearly set out the difficult steps needed to stabilise our ecological and climate systems, the message has failed to achieve any real traction in the public consciousness or in our media. This talk will address both the science of climate change and how it is communicated, including its implications for Ireland, including energy security and agriculture
John Gibbons is a specialist environmental writer and commentator with a special focus on Climate Change. He had a weekly column in the Irish Times on climate change for over two years, and is now a regular contributor both on TV, radio and in print on environment, energy and climate-related issues. A graduate of UCC and DCU, he is also MD of healthcare publishing and communications organisation, MedMedia Group, which he co-founded 24 years ago. Married, he has two daughters in primary school and lives in Dun Laoghaire
UCD and the Establishment of the Belfield Campus
Illustrated talk by Ruth Ferguson, Curator of Newman House. Talk starts at 8pm.
Friends of Collon Church Garden Party
Friends of Collon Church are hosting a garden party in aid of the Church of Ireland roof appeal at Collon House on Saturday, 23rd May, 2015.
The following events and activities will all be taking place:
- Ardee Concert Band playing
- Guided tour of the church and an historical village walk
- Children's activities
- Refreshments will be served alongside a cake sale.
Time: 14:00 - 17:00
Admission: €15 (proceeds going towards roof appeal) Children FREE.
AGM Donegal Association: May 26th at 8 p.m.
Agenda: 1.0 Secretary’s Report 2.0 Treasurer’s Report 3.0 Chairman’s Report 4.0 Election of Officers 5.0 A.O.B. 6.0 Presentation by Guest Speaker: Michael Chance, newly elected chairman of the Co. Donegal Executive of the IFA. “Farming and the Environment” 7.0 Presentation by guest speaker Joe Gallagher, Heritage Officer, Donegal Co. Council. 8.0 Tea/Coffee/Scones/friendly conversation!
Foraging and Using Seaweed, Kilcar, June 6th @ 1 p.m.
Guided foraging session (c 2 hours) on Muckross Beach, Kilcar, followed by a cookery demonstration in the Aislann Cenre. Rediscover the many types and uses of seaweed. Wear wellingtons or other waterproof footwear. Foraging includes sloshing through wet seaweed! All relevant licenses have been obtained. Guide Rosaria Piseri
Free bus transfers.
Wear wellingtons or other waterproof footwear for foraging in wet seaweed.
Environmental Courts, Enforcement, Judicial Review & Appeals: Exploring the Options for Ireland
Save the Date Friday, 19 June 2015, 2-6pm Brookfield Health Sciences Complex University College Cork, School of Law Conference
This conference will examine the potential for a specialist environmental court in Ireland. The overall goal is to consider appropriate institutional mechanisms to provide effective oversight and to improve the quality of environmental decision-making. Many jurisdictions have recognised the value of expert institutions to resolve complex and often technical disputes in the environmental field. The conference aims to explore the various issues and challenges arising in the Irish context and to provide a forum for exchange of knowledge and informed discussion among interested parties.
The event is open to all and is free of charge, although advance registration will be required. A full programme, booking arrangements and further details will be circulated shortly and will be posted on the School of Law website: http://www.ucc.ie/en/lawsite/
This event is part of a larger research project Strengthening Environmental Decision-making: Law, Technical Evidence & Institutional Design, funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant 2014.
The Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Supreme Court of Ireland & Adjunct Professor, School of Law, UCC
The Hon Judge Merideth Wright, former Presiding Judge, Vermont Environmental Court
Judge Anthony M Collins, General Court of the European Union & Adjunct Professor, School of Law, UCC
Dr Mary Kelly, Chairperson, An Bord Pleanála
Áine Ryall, School of Law, UCC
Conference Convenor: Áine Ryall Twitter: @EnvJusticeUCC
Green Communities Launch of the new Bridgefoot Street Community Garden
On Friday the 6th of March 2015 the Bridgefoot Street Community Garden once again opened its gates to the public after being closed for around 4 years. The event was opened with an address by Bruce Phillips (DCC) followed by a talk about organic soil fertility from Robert Moss (An Taisce EEU). This addressed the nature and importance of fertile soil for plant health, disease resistance, and productive cultivation. After the initial planting ceremony lunch was organised by Mary Lynch of DCC. The rest of the afternoon was divided between workshops on soil conditioning and composting delivered by William Brennan, and with digging horse manure into the new community garden bed. Thanks are also due to David Healy of DCC, Charles Richards of the Mendicity Centre, and all of the many volunteers who came along to support Dublin's newest community garden.
Although the day began overcast the cloud cover was at a high level and the light good. Sunshine began to break out later in the afternoon as the wind subsided.
Addendum: · Fertile soil is among the most precious yet underrated of all resources. · Soil is not inanimate dirt but is actually “Living Earth” that teems with life. · A teaspoon full of soil contains more microscopic living organisms than there are people on the earth!
An Taisce queries Minister Heather Humphreys' commitment to wildlife and nature conservation
An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland – has today raised serious questions regarding Minister Heather Humphreys' interest in and commitment to wildlife and nature conservation.
As Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys is responsible for the work of the National Parks & Wildlife Service, amongst other things.
However, on reviewing Minister Humphreys' past 200 tweets - going back more than 150 days - An Taisce discovered that the Minister has mentioned nature/wildlife topics only twice. These two lonely tweets related to the Rural Development Programme and the Deer Management Framework.
An Taisce put these findings to the Minister via Twitter, who responded "Lots of good work going on. For eg this week I secured Govt approval for publication of National Landscape Strategy."
Commenting today, An Taisce’s Natural Environment Officer Andrew Jackson said,
“We have no doubt there is lots of good work going on in the Minister's Department relating to nature conservation. However, we need to hear much more about it from the Minister.
Tweeting about a major part of her brief 1% of the time does not do justice to the importance of the subject, and gives the impression that the Minister is disinterested in wildlife and nature conservation.
Whether intended or not, this is a very worrying message for the Minister to be sending to the public and to her officials who carry out vital work in this area. We hope to hear much more from the Minister about her nature conservation work in the coming weeks and months."
For further information, please call:
An Taisce's Agri Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Plan Response
An Taisce’s principal concern is that any plan for greenhouse gas mitigation by the agricultural sector must actually and measurably contribute to the necessary, immediate, substantial and sustained reductions needed in Ireland’s total emissions.
The Department of Agriculture's discussion document, ahead of their input into the National Mitigation Action Plan, does not feature such a scenario among its objectives. A sectoral plan must contribute emission cuts to the national plan, or, if not, explain why it is not and how it will pay for compensatory cuts in other sectors.
Agriculture needs to contribute emission savings immediately to help cut Ireland’s annual total emissions. Currently Ireland is failing even to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ‘With Measures’ scenario, a “worst case”. At present, the 20% target reduction relative to 2005 to which Ireland has committed in accordance with EU requirements may be as low as 2% in reality according to EPA projections.
Producing extra livestock-derived food to feed a growing global population of wealthier consumers (Food Harvest 2020) will not respect the environmental limits of the planet or feed the poorest. Climate projections are clear that global emissions from livestock agriculture, like fossil fuel extraction, will likely have to be limited to achieve re-stabilisation of the Earth’s climate system. Knowingly contributing to increasing Ireland’s responsibility for climate risk and damage, as current Food Harvest 2020 and 2025 policy do, is not a ‘climate smart’ response.
An ill-defined “approach to carbon neutrality” as a “horizon point” for agriculture is insufficient to meeting these realities. The horizon, by definition, is always retreating. An Taisce urge the Department of Agriculture and the agricultural sector to plan for and achieve near-term and continuing absolute emission cuts to play a real part in greenhouse gas mitigation.
Climate Change Science and its Relevance to Policy and Legislation in Ireland
See the attached presentation by Professor Emeritus John Sweeney of National University of Ireland, Maynooth on Climate Change Science and its Relevance to Policy and Legislation in Ireland. Professor Sweeney was An Taisce's President from 2009 to 2014 and is a member of the An Taisce Climate Committee.
No mitigation in Irish Agriculture’s Climate Change Emissions – Will the rest of us have to pay?
An Taisce has submitted its response (Note 3) to a public consultation, regarding “A discussion document on the potential for Greenhouse Gas mitigation within the Agriculture and Forestry sector”, held by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) (Note 2).
Disappointingly, the DAFM discussion document does not live up to its title. It does not plan for any mitigation of annual agricultural total emissions at all. By definition, mitigation of agricultural emissions means emitting less greenhouse gases.
The assessment of the International Panel on Climate Change states: “Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”. Therefore, An Taisce strongly urges DAFM to revise the document so that the Mitigation Action Plan does in fact plan action on mitigation.
John Gibbons, of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee stated:
“Per person, our national emissions are unacceptably high, especially in agriculture and transport. Currently, Ireland is falling woefully short of our 2020 emissions target due to a continual lack of political will to set a new course.
Contrary to the aims of Minister Coveney and the Department of Agriculture, this mitigation discussion document is not ‘climate smart’. It fails to deliver. A revised agricultural mitigation action plan that plans definite action to achieve immediate cuts in annual absolute emissions in agriculture is urgently needed.”
The DAFM discussion document claims that Irish farmers will “have to produce extra food to feed a growing global population while respecting the environmental limits of the planet.” It goes on to state that we should seek to be “the global leader in sustainable food production.”
Unfortunately, climate projections are clear that global emissions from livestock agriculture, like fossil fuel extraction, will likely have to be limited to achieve re-stabilisation of the Earth’s climate system.
Beef production in general is very inefficient with extremely high carbon emissions per kilo. Dairy cattle in Ireland produce 9% more methane emissions per head now than in 1990, so that per head greenhouse gas ‘efficiency’ has in fact decreased in Ireland over the past 25 years.
John Gibbons continued:
“Ireland’s FH2020 and FH2025 policies aim to produce more livestock-derived food to feed a growing global population of wealthier consumers will not respect the environmental limits of the planet or feed the poorest.”
Ireland’s binding 2020 emissions target is to achieve 20% reductions in emissions relative to 2005. Currently, we will only achieve 2%. As Irish agriculture produces nearly a third of national emissions, it is a major part of this national failure to control emissions. Agriculture had steadily reduced emissions until 2011 but the agri-industry’s Food Harvest 2020 plan is rapidly reversing that progress by expanding livestock production.
The DAFM document says this course is not complacent. An Taisce disagrees. Increasing livestock-dominated agriculture and an ever more road-focused transport sector are setting Ireland’s course for climate mitigation failure on a grand scale. We strongly urge a change toward a more sustainable future.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform forecast very large costs for emissions target non-compliance after 2020 (Note 4). DAFM’s document says these “will come at a cost to the Irish Exchequer”. Is letting the general taxpayer pay for pollution costs, smart financial policy? This would be another PSO charge for the Government’s failure to plan for the future. Economists, common law and common sense say that the polluter should pay.
John Gibbons continued:
“Why should the Irish Exchequer and Irish citizens pay for emissions caused by the livestock products consumed in other countries?” An Taisce believes that most Irish farmers and citizens sincerely want to act to reduce our collective commitment to climate risk. But, with Food Harvest 2020 and the end of milk quotas, current policy including the Department’s discussion document is setting a course that exposes both ourselves and future generations to ever greater financial and climate risks."
An Taisce urges DAFM and the agricultural sector to plan for and achieve near-term and continuing absolute emission cuts to play a real part in Greenhouse Gas mitigation.
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 2411995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
The current Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill provides for the preparation of a national mitigation plan to articulate a national vision for the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy over the period to 2050. Each Department is to create its own Mitigation Plan to fit into the overall plan
The Department Of Agriculture, Food and Marine launched a Consultation on its draft Greenhouse Gas Mitigation plan entitled ‘A discussion document on the potential for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation within the Agriculture and Forestry sector’ it is here http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/ruralenvironment/climatechange/ghgmitigation/AgriSectorMitigationPlanPublicConsult120215.pdf
An Taisce’s critical response and submission to this draft is here http://www.antaisce.org/articles/an-taisces-agri-greenhouse-gas-mitigation-plan-response
DPER (2014) Future expenditure risks associated with climate change / climate finance. http://igees.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Future-Expenditure-Risks-associated-with-Climate-Change-Climate-Finance1.pdf
An Taisce believes the DAFM mitigation discussion document:
Fails to acknowledge that climate smart science shows that increasing growth trends in global livestock emissions are unsustainable in resource consumption and greatly increasing the risk of ‘dangerous climate change’ of over 2ºC.
Plans to increase livestock emissions that will add to Irish responsibility for climate risk
Accepts that the general taxpayer will pay the cost of missing emission targets due to the failure of Ministers and the Department of Agriculture
Confuses ‘emissions efficiency’ with ‘carbon footprint’, misleading farmers and the public regarding the aim of climate mitigation
Takes all of Irish forestry and land use ‘sinks’ for carbon that can compensate for emissions and assigns them only to agriculture. There is no scientific reason for agriculture to be solely allowed this role.
- An Taisce propose that a revised Mitigation Action Plan for agriculture needs to:
Produce actual cuts in annual total emissions. “Flatlining” emissions is not reducing them.
Accept that agriculture should work with other sectors within a National Mitigation Plan to achieve substantial and sustained cuts in absolute emissions, including agricultural emissions.
Set out the basis of a substantial and sustained public information campaign stressing the urgency of strong, near-term cuts in GHG emissions in line with science and global equity.
Ensure that a planned emission reduction path for agricultural emissions should be separate from any land use sequestration or offsets.
Accept a change of course, steadily away from livestock production unless Irish agriculture emissions are definitely displacing emissions elsewhere. This will only be true within an emissions trading scheme and with a price on greenhouse gases.
Acknowledge that ‘efficiency’ is not enough – improving 'emission factors' per unit of production is not the same as reducing the total ‘carbon footprint’ of an activity (two terms misleadingly confused by Teagasc and DAFM).
Discuss the appropriate price on methane and nitrous oxide pollution, as well as Carbon dioxide, given the likely total resultant climate damage. Such costings are in peer-reviewed literature and should be detailed to enable discussion.
Accept and ensure that the end-consumer of food products needs to pay for the emissions costs. Revenues gained can be ringfenced to funding farmers and others who cut emissions.
Prioritise research to achieve real year on year cuts in emissions from agricultural land. Teagasc can change course to meet this challenge so that farmers can benefit from carbon credits for moving to low carbon food production, solar and wind energy farming and forestry to sequester carbon. This is the future of climate smart agriculture.
Request far stronger cross-government co-ordination of climate policy so that stakeholders and citizens including have far more certainty. We need to know how Ireland’s carbon budget, our remaining quota of carbon emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, will be distributed among sectors and through the coming decades.
An Taisce Welcomes Acquisition of 16 Moore Street - But remembers earlier controversies.
An Taisce welcomes the announcement today by Minister Heather Humpreys to acquire the building at 16 Moore Street (and adjacent houses), where the Provisional Government agreed surrender at the end of Easter Week 1916.
An Taisce has had a long involvement in ensuring that the building would be saved and turned into a suitable museum.
However this is not the first time that the state has acquired this building, as an acquisition was originally announced by Dublin City Council in 2003. The City Development Plan twice incorporated the fact that the building would be saved and turned into a museum.
Then various potentially controversial agreements between senior city officials and developers were reported by a number of press outlets including Village Magazine, Phoenix Magazine, and a documentary on TG4. This combined with the property crash has ensured that the buildings have languished since. We call for the events to be fully explained in order for public confidence to be restored and to ensure that such a mess never again occurs.
Today's announcement is to be welcomed and we look forward to the details and trust that its future treatment will now be worthy of such an important monument.
An Taisce dismayed by government's "fait accompli" regarding the national climate change mitigation plan
Government’s approach further undermines the proposed Expert Advisory Council, says An Taisce
An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland – has today expressed its dismay regarding the government's request for tenders, published on Monday, for an environmental analysis of the national climate change mitigation plan.
The IFA has welcomed the absence of what it calls "divisive and unachievable sectoral targets" in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, and the Taoiseach and Minister Coveney have argued that Ireland's national emissions reduction target for 2030, which is to be agreed at EU level, "must take account of Ireland's specific circumstances including the size and importance of our agri-food sector."
It is therefore dismaying, if unsurprising, to see the government produce a tender document for assessing the national mitigation plan that seems clearly aimed at keeping a firm hand on the rudder insofar as potential impacts on agricultural policy are concerned.
At present, the first national mitigation plan has to be submitted to the government, for approval, within 24 months of enactment of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act. In anticipation of this planned primary legislation, work has already commenced within government on a national mitigation plan. In this regard, the government has put out a request for tenders for an environmental analysis of the mitigation plan which emerges.
Amongst the required academic qualifications for tenderers to satisfy is a degree "in agricultural science or agricultural economics to at least Masters Level." Whilst there are also requirements for persons qualified in environmental science and with experience of ecology, there is no requirement for experts in energy, buildings or sustainable transport.
The tender document says that four key sectors are to be examined: electricity generation, the built environment, transport and agriculture. Given this list, it is totally unclear why agricultural expertise has been singled out as a required criterion whilst other sectoral expertise has not.
Dr. Andrew Jackson, An Taisce's Natural Environment Officer, comments,
“The document states that tenderers must have experience in delivering a similar assessment service in the last five years in the four key sectors mentioned. There is only one consortium we can think of which has carried out something along the lines of a Strategic Environmental Assessment and an Appropriate Assessment of agriculture in Ireland in the past five years – this was led by an agricultural consultancy and produced the strongly-criticised environmental analysis of Food Harvest 2020.
The same agricultural consultancy was recently appointed to conduct a similar analysis of the 2025 Agri-Food Strategy. The question arises: has this latest request for tenders fired the starting gun for a victory parade or a competition?"
Dr. Jackson continued:
"The tender document further undermines the independence of the proposed Expert Advisory Council on climate change. It is this Council which should be independently setting the terms of reference for a sectorally balanced assessment of the national mitigation plan. Instead, the issued tender document practically guarantees that the assessment will be unbalanced and inadequate.
We heard today from Minister Coveney that "nobody in the Irish administration ever suggested that agriculture was going to reduce emissions long term." It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the assessment of the national mitigation plan is being set up to reinforce this approach. This is hugely disappointing, as is the inward-looking approach – we can see no evidence here of an attempt to ensure that the assessment will be international or outward-looking. Of course, there is no requirement for a contract to be awarded even though this request for tenders is out. The government should go back to the drawing board on this one – it is simply not good enough.”
For further information, please call:
- The tender document is here - "Request for Tenders for the Provision of Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment Services for the development of the National Mitigation Plan, a national plan setting out Ireland's first statutory low carbon development strategy for the period to 2050" - e.g. see clause 3.2.B: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byc1SOzeg2lPWjhzTGFyVVBVcDA/view?usp=sharing
- The IFA quote is here: http://www.farmersjournal.ie/no-sectoral-targets-in-climate-change-bill-173013/
- The Taoiseach/Minister Coveney quote is here: http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/climate-policy-change-crucial-for-the-future-294127.html
- Today's quote from Minister Coveney is here: http://www.independent.ie/business/farming/farming-will-not-be-held-back-by-green-targets-says-coveney-31105492.html
- The environmental analysis of Food Harvest 2020 is here http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/ruralenvironment/climatechange/FoodHarvest2020EnvironmentalAnalysisFINAL050214.pdf
Judge orders demolition of unauthorised Co Wicklow home
Ruling on family’s Blessington chalet seen as endorsing strict planning law enforcement
Mary Carolan The Irish Times
An order for demolition of the wooden chalet home of a young family in Blessington, Co Wicklow built in “gross” breach of planning laws has been granted by the High Court. In an important judgment endorsing strict enforcement of such laws, president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns made the order in a judgment strongly disagreeing with a previous High Court ruling.
In this judgment from 2013 a judge refused to order the demolition of a different wooden chalet home near Lough Dan in Co Wicklow. The order made on Friday permits demolition of the home at Tinode, Blessington, on the busy N81 road between Tallaght and Blessington, of Gary Kinsella, his partner and their young child, at a date time to be agreed between the sides.
If they cannot agree, the judge will fix a date for demolition when the case returns to him next week.
In his decision, Mr Justice Kearns said planning control is “an essential environmental necessity in a properly ordered society” without which there would be nothing to stop “a free for all development culture from running riot”.
There would be levels of “absurdity” if property rights of a person acting unlawfully were in every instance to be permitted trump those of a democratic society, he said.
An “extreme” example was a person might create overnight a structure outside Dublin’s GPO with sleeping and cooking facilities and then claim it was “inviolable” due to the constitutional protection afforded to the family home.
Green Communities Bridgefoot Street Training Day: 18th April 2015
The April 2015 Green Communities event was attended by between 30 and 40 people. This vegetable propagation workshop, by Stephen Alexander of Teagasc, covered planting, and the propagation of vegetable crops. Items covered also included organic slug control and disease resistant vegetable varieties.
This was followed by a talk on a wide variety of Herb Plants by Peter Cuthbert. These included Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, and Lemonbalm.
After these workshops a number or those attending helped with the planting of herb specimens provided by Peter Cuthbert, and Brassica plugs from Stephen Alexander within the new community garden.
Thanks are due to the Mendicity Centre for the use of their facilities, and also the Dublin Mens Shed Group for helping set up the workwshop and prepare lunch.
The day's weather was fantastic with bright sunshine on a cool fresh day. Warm sunny spring weather finally arrived on the first weekend of the month and lasted a week before being replaced by cold and unsettled weather. Throughout the last week the weather remained bright, and the temperature has slowly climbed back from cold to cool. The stop start arrival of Spring in April has also seen an epidemic of Peacock Butterflies.
An Taisce seeks legal action on unauthorised alcohol and rugby promotional advertising
An Taisce has lodged legal complaints with Dublin City Council on the planning permission status of the current promotion by an alcohol company of the European Rugby Cup through advertisements on public houses and outdoor billboard sites.
The advertisements are part of a promotion and sponsorship relationship between European Professional Club Rugby and a Company through which it operates European Rugby Club Limited, based in St Stephens Green Dublin under MD Roger O’Connor, and the Dutch beer company Heineken.
An Taisce has requested both Heineken and European Rugby Club Limited to remove all unauthorised advertising structures or instillations which have been put up without planning permission or are on sites which are not planning compliant.
An Taisce has also requested that the IRFU exercise shareholder responsibility to intervene on the issue, as IRFU CEO Philip Browne and another IRFU nominee Peter Boyle are board members of European Rugby Club Limited.
Three locations in particular have been raised namely the illuminated structure currently on the Barge public house in Charlemont St, facing the Grand Canal which is a major and highly intrusive unauthorised advertising structure using bright illumination, and the advertising banners covering parts of the upper floor of public house fronts of Kiely’s of Donnybrook, and on Searson’s in Baggot St.
At a time when the relation between alcohol advertising and involvement of alcohol companies in sport is an increasing public health concern, it should be expected that all sport supporting alcohol advertising would be compliant with planning laws. Accommodating unauthorised advertising covering large parts of buildings represents an unjustifiable and unacceptable intrusion on the public realm and is a traffic hazard, as it creates a distraction for motorists.
Advertising structures, no matter of what ‘temporary’ nature, require planning permission. All sporting organizations need to ensure that any current or future advertising campaigns in which they are involved with through sponsors either directly or indirectly, no matter of what duration, comply with planning permission.
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
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
Government withdrawal of support for EU energy savings fund shows climate indifference - An Taisce
An Taisce is dismayed at reports today by Euractiv  that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny allegedly ordered Irish MEP, Seán Kelly, to drop his support for a €5 billion ring-fence for energy efficiency projects in the €315-billion Juncker Investment Plan.
Speaking on the move, Tomás Bradley Planning & Environmental Policy Officer asked:
“Why are Fine Gael intent on locking Ireland into fossil fuel dependence in a time of energy uncertainty? Annual imports of fossil fuels come to €6.5 billion. Here is an opportunity for Ireland to reduce this cost and avail of funding through energy efficiency schemes.”
The move appears to be entirely political and as a result of pressure from European People’s Party (EPP) of which Enda Kenny is a leader. However, outside of the politics, there is an overriding necessity for positive steps to be taken to fund energy efficiency measures which would address critical challenges of energy uncertainty and climate change.
Ireland has major issues in energy efficiency which it needs to address in power generation, home heating and transport. However, the current National Energy Efficiency Plan is deficient in terms of legal force, scope, timetables and targets.
Given that projected total agricultural emissions will grow, the government's energy policy needs to acknowledge that a corresponding additional decrease in total energy emissions is required by immediately making greatly increased investments in energy efficiency, energy conservation and decarbonisation of energy supply.
Mr Bradley continued:
“Enda Kenny, while playing the political game, has not remotely grasped the fundamental problems of a poorly insulated national building stock and inefficient fossil fuel use nationally. Regrettably, his move is counter productive to several priorities of the government Energy Green Paper published in May 2014.”
Furthermore, this move is contrary to and inconsistent with An Taoiseach's own words from his address to UN Secretary General's Climate Change Summit, New York, 23 September 2014 where he stated: ''Leaders must show conviction, clarity, courage and consistency in their actions [to climate change]'' .
By any assessment, An Taoiseach is sending mixed messages on the climate to suit his own political ends. Unfortunately, Climate Change is indifferent to An Taoiseach's political pandering.
For further information, please call:
Tomás Bradley, Planning & Environmental Policy Officer, An Taisce Tel: +353 1 454 1786
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
Notice of Consultation for Scoping of Environmental Report for Agri-Food Strategy 2025
From the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
In accordance with EU Directive 2001/42/EC and the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programme) Regulations 2004 (SI 435 of 2004), the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine is carrying out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Draft Agri-Food Strategy 2025.
As an important part of the development of this strategy, the Department has procured an independent team of consultants, led by Phillip Farrelly and Co. to undertake an Environmental Analysis, incorporating a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and an Appropriate Assessment (AA).
In accordance with the provisions of S.I. No. 435/2004 - European Communities (Environmental Assessment of certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations 2014 the views of stakeholders are invited to provide observations on the scoping phase of this process. Further details on this process are available to view on the Department’s website at: http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/2025strategy/noticeofconsultationforscopingofenvironmentalreportforagri-foodstrategy2025/
A written submission or observation in relation to the scope and level of detail to be included in the environmental report may be provided as soon as possible, but no later than Friday 8th May 2015. Submissions may be sent by email to email@example.com or by post to: Economics and Planning Division, Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Agriculture House 6 Centre, Kildare Street Dublin 2.
You are welcome to forward this email to other interested parties.
2025 Strategy Secretariat
Statement by the Independent Expert Panel on Grid West
29 April, 2015
The Independent Expert Panel (the Panel) considering EirGrid’s Grid West and Grid Link projects was appointed by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, on foot of a Government decision in January 2014.
In line with the Government decision, the Panel was asked to oversee the integrity of a process to be undertaken by EirGrid to report on the Grid West and Grid Link projects. That process has been underway since January 2014. In May 2014 the Panel approved the Terms of Reference for comprehensive, route specific studies/reports of fully undergrounded and overhead options for each of the Grid West and Grid Link projects, including assessments of potential environmental impacts, technical efficacy and cost factors. The Panel’s requirements in terms of the studies/reports are set out in those Terms of Reference. The study/report for Grid West was undertaken by Eirgrid and the Panel oversaw EirGrid’s study/reporting process. A similar process is ongoing in respect of the Grid Link project.
Grid West Study/Report
EirGrid provided its report on the Grid West project to the Panel in early February. The Panel’s members considered the report individually prior to a meeting of the Panel to discuss the report on 24 February 2015. The individual and collective considerations raised 88 comments and queries. Those comments and queries were referred to EirGrid. The Secretary to the Panel met with EirGrid on 12 March 2015 to step through each of the comments and queries. EirGrid considered same and submitted a revised report to the Panel on 30 March 2015. The revised report was considered by the Panel who made some final suggestions to EirGrid for minor amendment to the report prior to publication. The Panel is satisfied that all of the comments and queries have been attended to satisfactorily.
Having now completed its analysis of EirGrid’s Grid West report, the Panel has provided its opinion to the Minister. The Panel is unanimously of the opinion that the EirGrid report is complete and objective. The report also allows underground and overhead options to be compared against each other, and in particular to be assessed and analysed in respect of technical, economic and environmental characteristics. Accordingly, the Panel is fully satisfied that EirGrid carried out and completed the report in full accordance with the Terms of Reference for the report set by the Panel. The Panel understands that EirGrid will soon publish the report for public consultation and will be seeking public feedback on each of the options presented.
Issued by the Independent Expert Panel considering EirGrid’s Grid West and Grid Link projects:
• Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chairperson
• Professor Keith Bell
• Professor John FitzGerald
• Dr. Karen Foley
• Mr. Colm McCarthy
Queries may be directed to the Secretary of the Independent Expert Panel at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Energy: Commission requests IRELAND, to fully transpose the EU Energy Efficiency Directive
The European Commission has asked Austria, Croatia, Ireland, Latvia and Romania to ensure the full transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive.
Under this Directive Member States must achieve energy savings over the period from 1 January 2014 till 31 December 2020. They have to do this by using Energy Efficiency Obligations Schemes and/or other targeted policy measures to drive energy efficiency improvements in households, industry and transport sectors. Under the Energy Efficiency Obligations Schemes, companies have to take measures to ensure energy savings at final customer level, for example by giving advice on installing better insulation or offering grants for replacing old energy-wasting windows.
The Directive had to be transposed into national law by 5 June 2014. Today the Commission sent reasoned opinions to these five Member States asking them to fully transpose the Directive into national law. If the Member States do not comply with this obligation within two months, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the EU and ask for financial penalties. In the course of the second semester of 2014, the Commission launched infringement procedures for non-transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive against 27 EU Member States (all except Malta).
In November 2014 the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria and Hungary. In February 2015 reasoned opinions were sent to Greece and Portugal. In March 2015, the Commission decided to refer Hungary to court with financial penalties, as not a single transposition measure was adopted. The Commission continues to monitor the implementation of the Directive and will address any shortcomings in the coming infringement cycles.
More information about the Energy Efficiency Directive is available on the website of DG Energy.
(For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186)
Wise use of Wetlands
This will be an informative and stimulating day in the midst of Monaghan’s wonderful wetlands, at the Ballybay Wetland Centre on the Dromore River System.
The Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltact, Heather Humphreys will open the Conference. “Wise Use” is a key principle of the World Wetlands Ramsar Convention and Mr. Chris Briggs, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention secretariat will present the key note address.
Throughout the day, we will discuss & demonstrate how to adopt a wise use approach in practice, through good planning, education and community action to ensure the conservation of our important wetland resources.
Other speakers include Dr. Peter Foss of Wetland Surveys Ireland, Dr. Florence Renou-Wilson, UCD on climate change & wetlands; Tom Flynn BL on the new plan-ning regulations & wetlands, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, community focused projects at Girley Bog County Meath and Abbeyleix Bog Restoration Project, and the Oxford Island Discovery Centre at Lough Neagh.
We look forward to welcoming you to County Monaghan.
Ballybay Wetlands Centre, Ballybay, County Monaghan, Ireland.
CONTACT PERSON: MONAGHAN COUNTY COUNCIL: SHIRLEY CLERKIN, 047 73722 BOOKINGS: KATRINA COLEMAN 047 30500 OR email@example.com