Archive for the 'Environment' Category

Dominick Donnelly’s submission to the Oral Hearing on the proposed Ringaskiddy Incinerator

Please note that I was censored from reading the latter part of point 5 of this submission into the record at the hearing by the Inspector. It’s all about the money, and this tries to get to the heart of the money issues, but that was deemed to be irrelevant to the proceedings. We cannot live in fear of asking the difficult questions. If there is nothing to hide, then let them come out in the open. If they don’t, then they must have something to hide.

Carrigaline Court Hotel, Thursday 28th April 2016

1) Introduction:
I am Dominick Donnelly. I work as a secondary school teacher of Maths, Applied Maths and Physics in Cork City. While I currently live in Cork City, I have in the past 20 years lived in various parts of Cork Harbour, in Passage West, Cobh and Carrigaline. I have been involved with CHASE since its inception, and thereby with fighting this proposal. I had the extreme honour to be elected to Passage West Town Council for one term, and I served as Mayor of Passage West for a year, and I also chaired the CHEPA campaign to fight the Port of Cork’s proposed reclamation of the Oyster Bank off Ringaskiddy for a number of years. I am a long-standing member of the Green Party, but I wish to make it clear that this is my personal submission, and not that of the Cork Green Party, which will be delivered later in this hearing. I give this background information just to make it clear that I have had a long involvement with Cork Harbour politics. In this submission I will focus on a number of key issues which I think have not been adequately dealt with elsewhere, but I will not seek to labour points that I think have been dealt with sufficiently well by others.

2) This Incinerator is Not Needed Nationally or Regionally
When we started on this journey in Cork Harbour 15 years ago there were no mass-burn incinerators in the country. At present there is one in operation, in Carranstown Co. Meath, with a second enormous one under construction in Poolbeg, Dublin. These two combined have sufficient capacity to deal with the country’s waste suitable for incineration, particularly when you factor in that there a number of cement kilns around the country currently looking at using the same waste streams to fire their kilns. In this situation even the most ardent fans of incineration would see that it is highly premature to be considering adding to this incineration capacity at present, at least until Poolbeg comes on stream late next year, and to see how that affects the waste market. This is so enormous it is bound to have a large effect on the waste market nationally. Also given the fact that we are going to have to move towards a more circular economy in the very near future given that we live on a finite planet and there simply isn’t enough stuff on the planet for us to continue living the wasteful lives we currently do, there must be falling levels of waste arising in the coming decades, and more of this will be going for reuse and recycling. As a planning authority surely in it incumbent on the board to take into account what effect overcapacity of incineration in the country would have. The Swedes learned this lesson many years ago, and have relied on substantial amounts of imported waste to keep their incinerators going, including taking large amounts of waste from their neighbour Norway. We should learn from their lessons. At least the Swedes had the good sense to attach district heating systems to their incinerators and thus derive the maximum benefit from this noxious technology. Given the location of this proposal there is no realistic likelihood of this ever happening in Ringaskiddy. Indaver will say that under our national waste policy that each region should be dealing with its own waste, and that is true. But those regional waste regions were substantially redrawn by Minister Hogan in 2011, and if required they can easily be redrawn again. The residents in the area have always contested that the reason this proposed facility is located where it is adjacent to a port is to facilitate the importation of waste. To me that is the only plausible explanation for the location of this proposed facility.

3) Overdevelopment of the Ringaskiddy Peninsula
This incinerator is proposed to be located in what is surely the most overdeveloped part of the whole country. Enough is enough. On the Ringaskiddy peninsula 50 years ago there were a few small villages and a lot of farms. The amount, and national significance, of the developments that have taken place on the peninsula since have contributed enormously to the national economy and to general progress, but they have happened without any realistic development of the community infrastructure, and realistically it has to end. In the area you have an expanding port facility, the National Maritime College, the only naval base in the country, one of only a handful of crematoria in the country, the growing nationally and internationally significant iMERC campus, the blossoming tourism and heritage potential of Spike Island, along with an enormous amount of industry. All this with only one road in, an inadequate bus service, no hope of a rail service and a local infrastructure that is basically at breaking point. There is no other village in the country has had to endure this amount of development. How on earth could it considered appropriate planning to put an incinerator in on top of that? It just can’t.

4) Zero Acceptance by Local Population
What I fear most should this proposal be granted planning permission would be the effect of that decision on the local population around Cork Harbour. In my time I have canvassed a very large amount of houses on both sides of the harbour, and I have met a huge number of the wider harbour community. Were this development to go ahead, I sincerely believe that it would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. There is just absolutely no acceptance of the need for this facility, and were it to be granted permission large sections of the harbour population would I believe lose faith completely in officialdom in this country, and the mechanisms by which decisions are made on their behalf. What the consequences of this would be I don’t know, but there is certainly the potential there for things to get very ugly. I say this not by way of threat, but by way of my assessment of the mood and views of the population of the harbour area. Other developments have been opposed, but there has been a recognition of potential benefits of those developments too. In my experience, nobody feels that they would derive any benefit from this proposal, and in this way it is different to other developments, and the community response is also therefore different and more heartfelt.

5) National Policy and Politics
I am a political animal by my nature. Politics is often misconstrued, but it is at its core a mechanism by which decisions are reached on behalf of the population. All national policy comes about as a result of politics, including waste policy. This hearing has heard some very valuable contributions already from a number of politicians from the area, not one of whom it must be noted have spoken up in favour of this proposal, thus underlying the depth of the communities’ opposition. Whatever their personal convictions, no politician in the area is going to dare speak up in favour, as that would be political suicide. I wish to highlight a couple of decisions and how they have brought us to where we are today. Incineration was first put on the national agenda and became part of national policy about 20 years ago by a Fianna Fail led Government. Shortly afterwards a number of proposed incinerator applications began happening around the country, including in Ringaskiddy. Of all of those, most of the applications died a death, with only two getting permission to date, Carranstown and Poolbeg. Locally we thought this application had died a death too due to the valiant efforts of the community to fight it, until it reappeared on the agenda recently again. During the Government of 2007-2011 of which my own party was part, and my party colleague John Gormley was Minister for the Environment, significant changes were made to waste policy, including the introduction of incineration levies. He was unable to ban it outright as there were at that stage two existing planning permissions in place, but he made sure that they were not economically viable, and little progress was made on their construction. It was only with the advent of the Fine Gael / Labour Government in 2011 that incineration was put firmly back on the national agenda. One of the first decisions made by the incoming Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, or Minister against the Environment as I like to call him, was to get rid of the incineration levies, and to redraw the national waste regions. Much as I welcome the contributions of the local representatives to this hearing, none of them said anything about this decision of Phil Hogan’s at the time, and I find it duplicitous and nimbyist of them to oppose this application now. I ask the question of Fine Gael, and particularly Minister Coveney, were Fine Gael paid to remove the incineration levy? Obviously major lobbying of them went on, but I wonder how much of this lobbying went on within the confines of Fine Gael fundraising events such as golf classics or dinners? I do not expect an answer to that question, but it is to me the only rational explanation as to why the incineration levy was removed. It is the removal of the levy that has led directly to the construction of the incinerators in Carranstown and Poolbeg, and to this application now. There was thereby a huge financial incentive for those involved in incineration to have the levy removed. I also ask Indaver and John Ahern were they involved in any interactions with Fine Gael and Minister Hogan at this time? Has John Ahern or any other Indaver executives ever attended a Fine Gael fundraiser, such as a golf classic or a dinner? These seem to be the locations where much of national importance is actually decided, and if John Ahern has not got involved in this, then surely he is not doing his job properly. Again these are probably rhetorical questions and I do not expect to get a true answer.

6) Ireland Will Not Meet Its Emission Targets
Last week the EPA issued a report illustrating how Ireland has not a hope of reaching its greenhouse gas emission targets by 2020, and in fact we will be quite far away from them. This just highlights how we have failed, and continue to fail to take the issue of climate change seriously, both nationally and individually. This proposal can in no way be construed to be contributing in any positive sense to the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions, and in fact by its very nature it would contribute to the continuation of the wasteful linear economy, rather than contributing to a shift to a more circular economy, which we desperately need if we are to have any hope of preventing runaway climate change in the near future.

I would like to finish Mr Inspector by reading a poem I wrote at the start of this hearing last week. I think it encapsulates the unbalanced nature of the proceedings here.

Round 3

Here we go again,
into the fray.

The Ringaskiddy Incinerator. Oral Hearing. Round 3.

Another bland hotel conference room,
Mr. Inspector on his dais.

To the right
a phalanx of corporate prostitutes in their grey uniformity,
keeping tight formation,
dutifully waiting to do their pimps’ bidding.
Let no-one break the line,
or dare show a glimpse of humanity.

To the left
a huddle of blinkered technocrats,
hoping to get out alive
so that they can go back,
back to hiding quietly
behind their layers of bureaucracy.
They are really not there to fight.

Out front
a motley rabble,
full of hubbub and colour and chaotic consternation
loud, proud and full of vigour
for the fight ahead.
At their centre, a quiet man in a suit
directing the show,
or more like letting the chaos unfurl gently,
the unkempt hair exposing his true loyalties.
He is not really a suit,
more at ease amongst the passions of the masses
than the cold conformity of complicity.

Amidst all this ruile buile of preparation
the fourth estate flit,
notepads at the ready,
thrusting microphones in front of all and sundry,
recording the battle cries and the bon mots.

At the top Mr. Inspector calls proceedings to order.
The rabble quietens and takes their positions,
armed only with love and passion
and bonds of conviction that bind them tighter than any mere mercenaries.
Let the battle commence.
I know which side I’m on.

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Round 3

Round 3

Here we go again,
into the fray.

The Ringaskiddy Incinerator. Oral Hearing. Round 3.

Another bland hotel conference room,
Mr. Inspector on his dais.

To the right
a phalanx of corporate prostitutes in their grey uniformity,
keeping tight formation,
dutifully waiting to do their pimps’ bidding.
Let no-one break the line,
or dare show a glimpse of humanity.

To the left
a huddle of blinkered technocrats,
hoping to get out alive
so that they can go back,
back to hiding quietly
behind their layers of bureaucracy.
They are really not there to fight.

Out front
a motley rabble,
full of hubbub and colour and chaotic consternation
loud, proud and full of vigour
for the fight ahead.
At their centre, a quiet man in a suit
directing the show,
or more like letting the chaos unfurl gently,
the unkempt hair exposing his true loyalties.
He is not really a suit,
more at ease amongst the passions of the masses
than the cold conformity of complicity.

Amidst all this ruile buile of preparation
the fourth estate flit,
notepads at the ready,
thrusting microphones in front of all and sundry,
recording the battle cries and the bon mots.

At the top Mr. Inspector calls proceedings to order.
The rabble quietens and takes their positions,
armed only with love and passion
and bonds of conviction that bind them tighter than any mere mercenaries.
Let the battle commence.

I know which side I’m on.

Dominick’s submission to the Cork Cycle Network Plan

Background
I am a daily commuter cyclist, living and working in Cork City. I have been cycling in and around Cork City for the past fifteen years or so.

Cycle Lanes and Routes
First of all there has been a huge improvement in recent years in cycling infrastructure around the city, and I hope this improvement continues. I regularly use the new cycle lanes on both Anglesea Street / Parnell Place and Pope’s Quay, and these are both excellent. I used to use the old railway line from the marina to Rochestown regularly, and still do occasionally, and this too is excellent. The biggest issue with this route is the state of the road surface on Centre Park Road, which you must use to get to and from the city, which is shocking in places. This causes a definite hazard to cyclists using this route, as there are often huge potholes to negotiate, and you can often be left with the Hobson’s choice of ploughing on into a pothole, or veering out in front of a truck. I hope that this road can get a completely new surface in the near future.

I fully recognise that the potential for developing a complete cohesive cycling route around the city is not practical, as many of the city’s roads are too narrow. One route that could be developed I think is a two way route across the North channel of the River Lee, either at St. Patrick’s Bridge / Bridge Street or at Brian Boru Bridge / Brian Boru Street.

Bike Parking
There has been great improvement in bike parking facilities around the city in recent years, with a number of excellently sited bike racks. However some key locations are still lacking. Topmost of these, for me, is the English Market. There is great potential to put simple racks, probably best parallel to the walls rather than perpendicular, to which bikes could be locked on some of the laneways leading in to the market, such as Market Lane on the Oliver Plunkett Street side, or on the lane that used to have the Vineyard pub (sorry don’t know its name) on the Patrick’s Street side. Other locations I have noticed a lack, or insufficient, bike parking are Opera Lane, in the vicinity of Dunnes Stores on Patrick’s Street, the bus station, around Merchant’s Quay shopping centre, around the Gate Cinema, and around Cork Opera House, and also around Princes Street and McCurtain Street.

Also large sporting and entertainment facilities around the city are generally lacking any bike parking infrastructure, such as at Irish Independent Park, the soccer stadium at Turner’s Cross and Pairc Ui Chaoimh (which I hope can be sorted out in its current redevelopment). Also the Live at the Marquee event during the summer, while it has some bike parking, could do with much better, and maybe the Coke Zero city bikes could set up temporary stands at events like this.

Bike Pods and Bike Lockers
It would be extremely useful for people who want to leave their bikes for a few days or similar, or who have a particularly valuable bike with them, that there be paid bike lockers or bike pods or similar, at a couple of locations around the city. These could be charged on an hourly or daily basis. Suitable locations might be at the train station, the bus station, and maybe close to City Hall, or even within some the multi-storey car parks. These could be made dual purpose, for the use of motor cyclists as well as cyclists.

Bike Lifts for the Northside of the City
If we are truly to embrace cycling culture in Cork, a big obstacle to this are the hills on the North side of the city. The installation of bicycle lifts, similar to that in Trondheim in Norway, at a few key locations around the city could go a long way to opening up the north side of the city to cycling. I believe there is a French company marketing such technology. I have a number of suggested locations, such as St. Patrick’s Hill, Shandon Street as far as the north Cathedral, Summerhill North / Ballyhooly Road as far as Dillon’s Cross, and Popham’s Road, from near Blackpool Shopping Centre up to the church.

Making Work Places/ Shops/ Schools etc. more Cyclist Friendly
I think that the provision of cycling infrastructure should be fully integrated in to the planning process, so that any new developments, or any redevelopments, must provide appropriate cycling infrastructure as part of the development. I think this should apply to any sort of commercial development, or really any sort of development beyond a single private residence, including workplaces, shops, leisure facilities, schools, etc. Even private houses should be designed so that there is space to park bicycles. A key part of any design process should be the consideration of how someone arriving by bicycle at a location would fare. The following are some sample questions which could be used to test any new developments for cyclist compatibility. Where do they park the bicycle? Where do they store their helmet/ panniers/ rain gear, so that they don’t have to carry it all with them? Do cyclists need shower and / or locker facilities to freshen up and to store their gear? I think Cork City Council should consider providing a facility in the City Centre to facilitate those working or shopping in the city arriving by bicycle, where they can park their bicycle safely, where there are lockers for them to store their gear, and where there are showers available if they are arriving sweaty. Such facilities should be integrated into all larger workplaces, and where there is a concentration of smaller workplaces, such facilities should be provided communally.

Developing and Fostering a Culture of Cycling in Cork City and Environs
In order to develop a culture of cycling, it is first important to ask the questions as to what are the fundamental obstacles to this. In the last fifteen years or so that I have been cycling in Cork, the number of cyclists has increased dramatically, and if this growth is to continue, which is good for the general population in so many ways in terms of the environment, health, reduction of congestion and pollution, tourism, ease of mobility, and so on, the questions must be asked as to what is preventing more people becoming cyclists. This is not just a questions of hard cycling infrastructure, which I have already dealt with above, but is also a question of how to shift mindsets and open people up to the possibilities of cycling.

The biggest obstacle to the growth of cycling is fear. There is now largely a couple of generations in existence who have lived their whole lives using cars as their principal means of transport, and who either have never cycled, or who have only cycled as children before they were old enough to drive. There are also many parents who would not let their children cycle out of fear, even as teenagers. These are largely people who do not and have not cycled themselves. Overcoming these fears is not easy, and any schemes aimed at getting those who don’t / haven’t ever cycled out on bikes is to be encouraged. To that end, such events as the Rebel Pedal, the Cork Cycling Festival, family fun cycles, cycle to school days, charity fun cycles and so on, should be supported, encouraged and facilitated where at all possible. The long term benefits of getting people on to bicycles who haven’t cycled before are huge. Hopefully the recent introduction of the Coke Zero city bike scheme will encourage many of those who have never cycled to get out there and give it a go.

Another obstacle to the real growth of cycling is that many view it as purely a leisure or sporting activity, and not primarily as a mode of transport. While the leisure cyclists should certainly be supported and encouraged, my main concern is with cycling as a mode of transport, and many do not see it in this way. The Government’s bike to work scheme has certainly helped promote the idea of cycling as a principal mode of transport, but all possible avenues to promote this viewpoint should be explored and promoted. The introduction of cyclist friendly infrastructure within work places and schools, as outlined above, would certainly help.

It must be said that there are road users out there who neither expect, nor respect, cyclists. In my experience in the city, one of the main groupings that cyclists come into conflict with are taxi drivers. As taxi drivers are professional drivers, and their working days on the roads, they come into contact with many cyclists, and should be aware of the space cyclists need, and should also be aware of the hazards they can cause cyclists. However by their behaviour on the roads, it is patently clear that many, certainly not all, taxi drivers have no fundamental understanding of the risks they can pose to cyclists. I know that in other countries to overcome such issues, the car drivers have been taken out around the city on bicycles for a few hours, and they have the hazards caused by drivers pointed starkly out to them. I propose that, to start with, a group of taxi drivers be taken out by some experienced cyclists for a few hours around the city, as when they experience cycling from the cyclists’ perspective, they will hopefully change their behaviour as drivers as they become more aware of the hazards they pose to cyclists. Such a scheme may be possible in conjunction with the Coke Zero city bike scheme, who might be able to provide the bicycles for such an event.

Conclusion
That is all I have to say for now on the subject. If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to get in touch. I look forward to the continuing development of cycling in and around the city, and to the development eventually of a cycling culture in Cork, as exists in many cities on the European continent already.

Bad election for the Green Party – Bad election for Ireland

While I am a bit down about my own result and that of my party nationally it must be put in perspective. Most people simply do not understand how important environmental issues are going to be over the coming years, including within the next five years of the local government term. In particular our media do not seem to have a clue.  In choosing to effectively exclude the Green Party from local Government for the next five years, the Irish electorate has demonstrated that it is far more interested in giving out and looking backwards, rather than planning for a safe future for us all, and this is a decision that the electorate will come to rue.  The only hope is that we stick at what we are doing in Government, putting the building blocks in place for us to deal with what is coming over the years ahead, and that in the next few years the Irish electorate, and the Irish media who have been dreadful over the past few years, start to understand what is really happening on our planet.  We have to get away from our obsession with money and economics (witness George Lee’s huge vote) and realise that economics is just one pillar of good decision making, with the environmental and social pillars having equal importance.  Unfortunately the electorate has all but eliminated those who understand the importance of the environmental pillar from local government, and largely replaced them with people who have limited understanding of any of the three pillars.  A sad day for the future of this country.

Cllr. Donnelly welcomes Minister Gormley’s clarification of waste policy for all planning authorities

3rd June 2009

Department of Environment circular to all planning authorities makes it clear that mechanical and biological treatments, not incineration, are to be the cornerstones of national waste policy in the future

The Green Party’s candidate for the Carrigaline area of Cork County Council and for Passage West Town Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, has welcomed the letter which has been circulated to all planning authorities around the country from the Department of the Environment, which clarifies that waste policy in the country is changing, with the emphasis switching away from incineration towards mechanical and biological treatment. This circular comes in advance of the full review of national waste policy which is currently being undertaken by consultants Eunomia, and which is due to be complete in July.

Cllr. Donnelly said: “This clarification that incineration is no longer a cornerstone of national waste policy, coupled with the recent introduction of an incineration levy comparable to the landfill levy, is highly significant for the planning application currently before An Bord Pleanála for two incinerators at Ringaskiddy. The oral hearing for that application is due to resume next Monday, and surely the message is coming loud and clear from Government that incineration is no longer part of Government policy. Given that when the Ringaskiddy incinerators were granted planning five years ago by An Bord Pleanála it was solely on the basis that it was Government policy, this clarification from Minister Gormley, I think now makes it impossible for the board to reasonably grant planning for the Ringaskiddy incinerators.”

“As well as this circular, and the recent incineration levies, I have seen the text of an order which Minister Gormley will be issuing next week, which in effect reinstates the Proximity Principle. This effectively means that any incinerator or landfill can only accept waste from whichever of the eight waste management regions in which it is situated. The Ringaskiddy incinerators would therefore be only able to accept waste from within County Cork. This really makes them non-viable financially, and so should be another nail in their coffin,” continued Cllr. Donnelly.

Cllr. Donnelly concluded: “With this series of measures introduced by Minister Gormley in recent weeks, I hope it is now patently clear that incineration is no longer a key component of national waste management policy. While an outright ban on incineration is not currently possible due to existing planning permissions in Poolbeg in Dublin, and in Carranstown, Co. Meath, it is now clear that Government policy is heading in that direction. Incineration is so clearly not the way we should be dealing with our waste. A proper waste industry based on reuse, recycling within this country, and mechanical and biological treatments is the only policy that makes any sense, both in terms of economics and the environment.”

 

Full text of Department of the Envrionment circular to planning authorities:

May 2009

Update on progress in respect of implementing the waste management provisions of the Programme for Government

 I am directed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to update you on progress in respect of implementing the waste management provisions of the Programme for Government, and in particular the commitment to conduct an international review of waste management policy. 

 The Programme for Government makes major commitments in relation to national waste policy. In particular, there is an emphasis on moving away from the high reliance on incineration foreseen in the National Development Plan and reflected in the regional waste management plans for which the local authorities have statutory responsibility, generally operating in regional groupings. In this regard it is intended that there be an increased commitment to the use of alternative technologies, including those known as mechanical and biological treatment.

 The Department’s Statement of Strategy 2008-2010, which is published on the Department’s web site and which was noted by Government in July 2008, states:

 “The new Programme for Government indicates a further development of waste and resource policy in the direction of sustainability, in particular, to move away from mass burn incineration towards alternative technologies and to minimise waste going to landfill, subject to the outcome of the review of the waste management strategy. This major international review being undertaken by the Department will address how best to implement waste prevention and minimisation, and the emergence of new technologies in waste management.”

 Progress on the review of waste management strategy

Consultants have been retained to conduct the study of waste policy options which will underpin the conclusion of the overall review later this year. This work is well advanced and a series of interim reports has been considered by the Review Steering Group. It is considered that the study itself should be concluded on time, July 2009, with policy proposals being brought to Government shortly thereafter.

 Interim policy measures

While this work is on target, it is acknowledged that progress towards meeting Ireland’s targets under the Landfill Directive and the requirements of the recently adopted Waste Framework Directive cannot wait. Therefore the Minister is pressing ahead with key initiatives which are compatible with the overall objectives of the review in order to meet the targets. These include:

  • increase in the landfill levy and the introduction of a levy on incineration;
  • roll-out of brown bin collections;
  • intensifying efforts to promote at source/home composting;
  • supporting small-scale local composting initiatives;
  • encouraging access to waste streams for composting/anaerobic digestion, recycling and other processes high on the waste hierarchy; and,
  • source segregated collection of commercial biowaste.

 The Minister has also initiated a Strategic Environmental Assessment on proposed policy directions to the EPA and local authorities which would (in relation to their functions under the Waste Management Acts and any instruments made thereunder), inter alia, require the recipients to:

  • limit incineration capacity to ensure that waste is not drawn to incineration which could have been dealt with by recycling or other methods higher up the waste hierarchy;
  • refrain from exercising their powers in such a way as to direct waste to landfill or incineration.

 The proposed policy direction is subject to consultation with both the public and all stakeholders, including local authorities.

 The above are interim actions intended to help meet the Landfill Directive targets while implementing the commitments in the Programme for Government. The Minister considers that they are in line with the policies emerging from the overall review.

 Queries in relation to this Circular may be addressed to the undersigned. 

 Yours sincerely,

­­­­­­Michael Layde

Principal Officer – Waste Policy: Review and Regulation

Cllr. Donnelly welcomes new tougher planning laws

28th May 2009

Gormley’s changes will make it much more difficult for councillor’s to zone too much land for development

The Green Party’s candidate for the Carrigaline area of Cork County Council and for Passage West Town Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, has said that changes to planning laws announced today by Environment Minister John Gormley will allow for better planning in County Cork.

Cllr. Donnelly said: “The Green Party has brought in major changes to the planning system for the first time since tribunals were established to investigate corruption ten years ago.  It will mean better services for our community based on sensible planning, and a clampdown on dodgy developments.”

 “I particularly welcome the aspect of the new legislation which requires a two-thirds majority on the county or city council in order to zone land for development, whether it be for the adoption of the county development plan, or for an amendment to the plan.  This will mean that no one party will be able to rezone land on their own, and should prevent the kind of corruption which Frank Dunlop used, and which has ended up with his imprisonment this week.”

Cllr. Donnelly continued:  “In many ways the downfall of the Celtic Tiger happened in local authorities up and down the country getting too greedy, and zoning too much land for development.  Much of this excess zoned land is what now makes up the toxic assets which have brought our banking system to the brink of collapse, and which have necessitated the setting up of NAMA.  Most of this zoned land will see no development during my lifetime.”

“It was councillors from all the main parties, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin who voted through these zonings on councils up and down the country.  On many local authorities, it was only the Green Party representatives that opposed the widespread zoning of land for development.  A classic example of this was my Green Party colleague on Monaghan County Council, Vincent P. Martin, who was the only councillor to oppose the adoption of their county development plan, a plan which effectively allowed for the doubling of the population of the county.  Where are all these people going to come from?  They don’t exist, and this sort of overzoning is clearly ridiculous, but it has taken a Green Party Minister for the Environment to sort it out, as all the other main parties are up to their eyeballs in overzoning.  They seem to be too busy looking after their friends and backers to do a sensible job,” concluded Cllr. Donnnelly.

Cllr. Donnelly concluded:  “On a final note, these most welcome changes will promote a much more sustainable level of development, which will help support the economic renewal of the country, and will help break the cycle of boom and bust economics which all the main parties seem hell bent on continuing.”

New noise laws will bring peace to Cork residents, says Cllr. Donnelly

26th May 2009

On the spot fines for nuisance noise will deter boy racers

Minister for the Environment John Gormley today announced details of new laws that will clamp down on nuisance noise. The Green Party’s local election candidate for the Carrigaline electoral area of Cork County Council and for Passage West Town Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly welcomed the announcement saying “This will be particularly beneficial to those living in noisy areas or near construction sites. Likewise it will also give relief in neighbourhoods where intruder alarms make life miserable for all.”

The Noise Nuisance Bill is part of the Programme for Government. The bill was approved by Cabinet last week and will go before the Oireachtas this autumn. Launching the bill Minister Gormley said: “The new noise laws will improve the effectiveness of the existing resources available to tackle nuisance noise issues. It will strengthen existing local authority powers and allow for a system of immediate fines both for residential and business offenders.”

Under the current system council officials are not able to take action immediately to stop sources of noise pollution, they can go through the courts but this takes weeks. Authorised officers from local authorities and An Garda Siochana will be given new fast-track powers to take prompt and effective action to deal with intruder alarms when they sound continuously at premises.

Cllr. Donnelly concluded:  “Noise pollution affects nearly everybody and can be a matter of particular concern for those badly affected by boy racers, late night parties, early morning construction work or neighbours with blaring intruder alarms.  This legislation will also be of interest to those of us in Passage West living close to the dockyard, as there have been serious issues with noise pollution there for many years.  The World Health Organisation has said that noise pollution can have serious public health affects including sleep disturbance, auditory and physiological effects. This new bill aims to improve quality of life and allow people inCork to get their well-deserved rest without interruption.”