UN Biodiversity Report shows species becoming extinct at ‘unprecedented’ rate

Obviously, in the middle of the Council Election campaign, the focus generally tends to be on very local issues. However, I took a break from purely Dublin 15 based concerns to examine the UN Global Assessment on Biodiversity report which was released on Monday.

There are so many disturbing statistics in it that it takes a while to digest them all. A couple which stood out to me:

  • More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980
  • Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992
  • In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels
  • 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters

What emerges most clearly from the report is that every single country must dramatically change the way it treats Nature. Governments, including our own, must lead the way.

Fingal Climate Change Action Plan: Have Your Say

Fingal County Council has put its draft Climate Change Action Plan out on public display and is seeking public submissions on it. This consultation will last until 25th March. You can see the full document here.

The Action Plan contains some good ideas about how Fingal County Council as an organisation can cut its own carbon emissions. However, the Action Plan needs to say more about how Fingal Council can help all of us living in the area to reduce our emissions.

I am hoping that people interested in the issue of Climate Change will make submissions to Fingal, calling on them to strengthen the Action Plan. Here are a couple of ideas that I think would make the Action Plan even more effective.

  • Include targets for carbon emissions reductions across all of Fingal.
  • Include action points on how new homes built in Fingal can be more energy efficient.
  • Set out how we can improve cycling facilities and invest in public transport, so more commuters can have an alternative to their car.

Submissions can be made as follows:

  • Online at https://consult.fingal.ie/
  • By email to climateaction@fingal.ie
  • By post / hard copy addressed to: Climate Action Officer, Environment Dept., Fingal County Council County Hall, Swords, Co. Dublin.

The closing date for receipt of submissions is Monday 25th March 2019.

Submissions or observations should state your name, address, and where relevant, the organisation, body etc. represented. Please make your submission by one medium only, i.e. online submission, or email, or post / hard copy.

Public Consultation on Fingal Noise Action Plan

Cllr Roderic O’Gorman discussing noise pollution from the M50 with Duncan Stewart

Fingal County Council has recently published its Draft Noise Action Plan 2019 – 23. This sets out areas of Fingal which are impacted by noise pollution from roads, railways or the airport. The draft Plan is currently out on consolation, so members of the public can give their views on it. You can view the plan here.

As part of the Plan, Fingal will have to engage with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (the organisation that controls the M50) to make proposals for reducing noise pollution. I know that a number of estates across Dublin 15 have been impacted by noise pollution coming from the M50. In order to give Fingal a stronger evidence base in its negotiations with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, it would be useful for as many residents as possible to make a submission to the draft Plan.

You can make a submission via the Fingal Public Consultation website here.

You can also make a submission by email to napda@fingal.ie  or by post to:

The Senior Engineer, Environment Department, Fingal County Council, County Hall, Main Street, Swords, Co. Dublin, K67 X8Y2.

The closing date for the receipt of submissions is 9th November 2018.

Feel free to drop me a copy of your submission to rodericogorman@gmail.com

Another Fish-Kill in the River Tolka: Second in Two Years

Dead fish in the Tolka near Mulhuddart bridge

It is incredibly frustrating to report that there has been another fish kill on the Tolka River, less than a year after a previous fish kill.

It appears that a sewer pipe near Littlepace estate blocked, overflowed and the sewage flowed under the N3 and pooled on the northside  of the road, then subsequently flowed into the Tolka. A number of dead mature fish have been found in the river below the Mulhuddart bridge.

This is the second fish kill caused by a blocked sewage pipe on the Tolka in two years. Last year, a tire dumped under a manhole blocked a pipe and caused a leak into the river, which resulted in a major fish-kill. This weekend’s leak is further upstream in the river.

Both Inland Fisheries Ireland and Fingal County Council are working to unblock the sewer and remove any remaining waste. They are also investigating the cause. While we must await the outcome of this investigation, Irish Water must have serious questions about how their sewers have leaked again. I will be raising this at the next Fingal County Council meeting.

It is so frustrating to see this happening again. Local clubs like the Tolka River Environmental Alliance have done so much over a number of years to re-stock and rejuvenate the river. All this work can be wiped away in a matter of hours by effluent entering the river. There must be improved monitoring measures undertaken by Irish Water to ensure that this does not happen again.

Minister Kelly has provided no evidence to back up his threats on housing standards

Last week, the Minister for Environment wrote to the Chief Executive of the four Dublin local authorities, claiming that “viability of new development and therefore supply, will be placed at risk by insertion of unreasonable or excessive requirements in relation to the standard of housing g or ancillary services and facilities …”. This comes in response to a Green Party proposal in the Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown Development Plan to include provision for ‘passive housing’ standards in the development plan. A Green Party councillor on South Dublin County Council was able to insert a provision on rainwater harvesting in that areas plan.

Passive housing is a housing standard where by using thorough and precise building design housing can be constructed with an energy demand 90% lower than most buildings. These buildings become extremely cheap to heat and run in the medium to long term.

Minister Kelly is actually seeking to have councillors in local authorities enact lower building standards. He wants us to permit houses that will be colder, less efficient and more costly for home owners to run. He has provided absolutely no evidence to back up his claim that these houses are more expensive to build. Indeed, there is ample evidence that passive houses are now being built for the same cost as the usual, less efficient houses.

I’ve no doubt the Minister has been lobbied by vested interests like the Construction Industry Federation and NAMA. I’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department asking for all communication and lobbying that it has received on this issue. I think that housing standards should be set according to what is going to be best for home owners, not what suits big builders. This is how I will vote when this issue comes up for discussion in Fingal.

Letter from Min Kelly to Paul Reid, Chief Executive of Fingal CC

My proposals to improve the draft Fingal Tourism Strategy by including new elements relevant to Dublin 15 were accepted

 

I’m pleased to see that, following lobbying by myself and other councillors, the draft Fingal Tourism Strategy has been substantially altered to include more references to a significant number of new action points relevant to the Dublin 15 area. At the March meeting of Fingal County Council, I raised my concern that the original draft had very few concrete Action Points relevant to West Dublin, with the main focus of the document being on the North County and coastal areas of Fingal.

I particularly welcome the new Action Points that I called for on a potential Liffey Valley Greenway, a Liffey Valley Discovery Centre and the increased usage of the Royal Canal. I was also pleased to see the highlighting of the promotion of the Sports Campus as a high quality training centre.

I want to thank the Council officials and the team drafting the Strategy for responding to the concerns I raised when the first draft was placed before the Council. Tourism can be a key driver in providing employment across Fingal. In doing so, it can provide improved facilities for everyone in the area. It is important that the facilities in the Dublin 15 are properly recognised in the wider scope of Fingal and that the Council promotes this part of Fingal to the same extent as the rest of the county.

Council must repair footbridge over river Tolka

I was recently contacted by a Dublin 15 resident who regularly uses the Tolka Valley Park. The small footbridge over the Tolka in the section between Corduff and the M3 has been badly scorched by a fire that was lit on the bridge. A number of the planks of wood now have holes in them, or are badly warped. This makes the bridge a hazard to walkers, runners, or young children crossing it.

Damage done to footbridge in Tolka Valley Park

I took some photos of the damage that has been done and I’ve contacted the Parks Department of Fingal County Council. The Council have said that they will look into the issue.

I think it is really important that repairs are undertaken here. The Tolka Valley Park is a great resource in Dublin 15, and the current dangerous state of this footbridge cannot be left as it is.

No cause for Tolka River fish kill yet

Two weeks ago there was a significant fish kill on the River Tolka, close to the Mulhuddart bridge. Over the last few years, the Tolka River Environmental Alliance (TREA) has been working with local angling groups to make the river a good habitat for a range of fish species. It is extremely disappointing to see the good work of these organisations being undermined.

I contacted Inland Fisheries Ireland to get an update on the investigation about the cause of the kill. No specific cause has been identified yet, but IFI are continuing to look into it in conjunction with Fingal County Council.

Ill post an update here when I know more.

Dear Mr. O’Gorman,

Thank you for your mail and apologies for the delayed response – your original communication got lost in our mail system and your query was only picked up yesterday. As per your email below, IFI staff initiated an investigation in response to a complaint of dead fish in the River Tolka in the vicinity of Mulhuddart Road Bridge on the evening of Tuesday August 6th, 2013. Approximately 300 adult and juvenile Brown trout, large numbers of stickleback and minnow and a small number of lamprey were killed over a section of main channel approximately 650m long. Live fish including Brown trout were recorded in the affected area during the investigation. The fish were judged to have died within approximately 12 hours of the report being received. Samples were taken for analysis however results did not identify any deleterious matter which may have caused the kill. IFI are currently liaising with Fingal County Council in an ongoing investigation of local surface water drainage systems in an effort to determine what may have happened and with a view to preventing similar events in the future.

Best regards,

Brian.