Category Archives: Biodiversity / Bithéagsúlacht

Submission to An Bord Pleanála oral hearing in relation to Clonshaugh sewage treatment plant and Ireland’s Eye outfall

At today’s Oral Hearing into the proposed sewage treatment plant, I am making this presentation  focusing on the water quality aspects of the proposal. I have recently become aware of the important biodiversity along the sewer route at Ballymun and I am glad to have the opportunity to include the Ballymun Wildlife Group’s Report on Biodiversity at Northpoint in my  submission.

 

Fingal trials vinegar and steam instead of weedkillers in Parks

Fingal County Council is reducing pesticide use, implementing policy changes sought by Grern Councillors. This includes both letting wild plants grow in some areas and trialling safer alternatives to conventional pesticides.

As reported to this month’s Council meeting, alternatives including steam and foam are being used to deal with weeds coming up in locations like paving cracks. Visitors to Malahide Demesne may notice the smell of vinegar which is being used as a substitute for the controversial weedkiller Glyphosate.

Commenting on the implementation of the new policy, Cllr. David Healy said: “Phasing out pesticides is vital to protect our insects, particularly the pollinating insects which have such an important role in ecosystems. Our parks and open spaces must be places where nature can thrive. Green thinking says ‘think globally, act locally’ and we are very glad that Fingal is putting this into practice.”

Cllr Roderic O’Gorman commented: “It is good to see Fingal responding to the public concerns at the use of toxic chemicals in public places. As Councillors we hear these concerns first-hand. When people visit their local parks and open spaces, they want to be confident that these are safe and healthy places, in which they can let their children play freely.”

The update given to Fingal County Council’s monthly meeting regarding the plan can be found at p47 of these minutes.

My submission which led to the change in policy (including some photos of non-use of herbicides elsewhere) is available here.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is here.

Threat to Malahide Demesne resurfaces for a third time

Unfortunately, the threat to tarmac over some of the playing pitches at Bridgefield in Malahide Demesne has reappeared.

A report on parking in Malahide was brought to the March Area Committee. It seems to be intended to make the case for the conversion of some of the Bridgefield pitches to car parking.

The proposal to convert playing pitches to car park was originally made in 2009. The Council initiated a Part 8 process but abandoned it due to the strength of public opposition.

The proposal reappeared in late 2015, together with a proposed Forest Adventure Area. Despite the fact that the Law Agent advised that the relevant planning regulations hadn’t been complied with, a bare majority on the Council approved the proposal.  That proposal was abandoned in 2016 following a High Court challenge by local resident Noel Mahon.

I will continue to oppose any further conversion of parkland to car parking. We need to protect the Demesne for future generations, improving access by foot, bicycle and public transport.

This recurrent proposal is undermining public confidence in the management by the Council of the wonderful asset. In September I proposed that there should be some sort of formal or informal input from park users and the local community. The proposal didn’t get the necessary level of support but I think it is worth returning to.

 

Baldoyle to Portmarnock Greenway is before An Bord Pleanála

Fingal County Council has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission for a greenway between Baldoyle and Portmarnock. Details of the application are online here as well as in Baldoyle Library and the Council’s offices in Swords and Blanchardstown. Observations on the proposal can be made to An Bord Pleanála until 23rd March.

The cycling and walking route between Baldoyle and Portmarnock will provide for a high quality transport link and amenity route through the Green Belt between these towns. It responds to the demand from local residents for improved green transport opportunities along what is now a hostile stretch of road. It is part of the Bray to Balbriggan coastal greenway which the Green Party has been working for over many years.

 The application is for a high quality route with pedestrians and cyclists separated. This recognises the importance of the route for transport cyclists as well as its role as an amenity for the public walking along the nature conservation area at Baldoyle Estuary and the Mayne River.screen-shot-2018-02-07-at-8-13-34-pm

However, I am concerned about the proposal for 6m high lighting columns along the route. I will be proposing to An Bord Pleanála that these be replaced with low level lighting or path markings instead.

Water Framework Directive Areas for Action

I have made the following submission in support of improved catchment management in the Mayne and Santry Rivers, and suggested the addition of the Howth streams to the catchment areas:

There is considerable interest in the area in both freshwater and coastal water. It should be possible to get good public engagement in the RBMP actions in the area.
I welcome the inclusion of the Mayne and Santry rivers. They cover a signficant area and significant population; it should be possible to get considerable public involvement in relation to them. Given the extent of development planned in the Mayne catchment, an objective of ensuring that the development does not lead to a degradation in the status of the river and engagement accordingly with planning and building control could make a significant difference.  I mentioned the Northside Partnership who have developed a proposal for a Greenway along the Santry River. They may be interested in cooperating on the River itself as well.
I suggest that it makes sense to also include the streams in Howth. (Full list at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rivers_of_County_Dublin but of greatest importance are Balsaggart Stream, Whitewater Brook, Gray’s Brook, Offington Stream and (because it discharges onto Claremont Beach) the Bloody Stream)  The Howth streams are all part of the Special Amenity Area and the Management Committee for that Area would be in a position to participate in and assist the measures to be taken to achieve good status for them.
 
It also makes sense to include the coastal waters between where the Santry meets Dublin Bay and Baldoyle Estuary. These Mayne and Santry rivers are both included in the catchment of the Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve; as the Dublin Bay analysis is looking upstream, it makes sense for the RBMP analysis to also look downstream.
Consultation information at www.watersandcommunities.ie and https://consult.fingal.ie/en/consultation/draft-river-basin-management-plan-%E2%80%93-areas-action

Red and Grey Squirrels in the Howth Special Amenity Area

The issue of squirrels has recently had some media coverage and so I thought it worthwhile to give some background.

A few key facts:
  • Pine martens are associated with success for the red squirrel.
  • Red squirrels are recovering a lot of territory in Ireland they had lost to greys in tandem with the recovery of pine martens.
  • Red squirrels were (re-)introduced to Howth some decades ago.
  • Greys have been moving in which puts the reds at risk.
My  conclusions from this, which I will put to the SAAO Management Committee, are that the only  reasonable and justifiable actions in relation to squirrels would involve encouraging/reintroducing pine martens, if these are practical.
Much of the Howth peninsula is covered by a Special Amenity Area Order. The Management Committee, made up community, recreational and conservation representatives along with local councillors, works within the terms of the order to protect the biodiversity, landscape and amenity of the peninsula.
The questions I asked at the recent Area Committee are here and here
BBC Costing the Earth podcast Reds Return http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pn674
Vincent Wildlife Pine Marten Recovery Project (Wales, England): http://www.pine-marten-recovery-project.org.uk/
NPWS documents:

Final stage of County Development Plan process

I have submitted the following motions in relation to the Amendments to the County Development Plan. The meetings will be on 14th and 16th February.

Cycling 
For background to the cycling motions, please see my report from the previous stage of the Plan.
7.10 Review of cycle infrastructure not designed in line with Principles of Sustainable Safety
That In light of policy 2.5 of the National Cycle Policy Framework, the proposed amendment
“Insert new Objective MT: Review existing cycle infrastructure which was not designed in line with the Principles of Sustainable Safety in a manner consistent with the National Cycle Manual and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and undertake appropriate remedial works.“
be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
7.11 Design roads in accordance with the Principles of Sustainable Safety
That the Amendment agreed by the Council under Agenda item 284/ Motion AI028972
“Insert Objective after MT09: Design roads including cycle infrastructure in line with the Principles of Sustainable Safety in a manner consistent with the National Cycle Manual and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets.”
be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
7.15 30km/h environment in the immediate vicinity of schools
That the proposed amendment:
“Insert new Objective MT: Ensure that as soon as possible, but by the end of the lifetime of the Development Plan the environment in the immediate vicinity of schools is a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment with speed limits strictly enforced, and drop-off by car within a given distance restricted.”
be be amended to
“Insert new Objective MT: Ensure that as soon as possible, but by the end of the lifetime of the Development Plan the environment in the immediate vicinity of schools is a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment, and drop-off by car within a given distance restricted.”

(The deletion of the reference to enforcement comes from the fact that the Council has no influence on speed limit enforcement.  Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending this much weaker version: “Support and promote the implementation of policy in the immediate vicinity of schools to provide for a safe and attractive low speed (30kph) environment.”)

SH9.10 Cycle Routes to Kinsealy
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Abbeville to Kettle’s Lane be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Portmarnock to Teagasc Kinsealy be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Balgriffin to Teagasc Kinsealy (along field boundaries east and north of Balgriffin cemetery) be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
That the proposed amendment to add indicative cycle route Balgriffin to Kinsealy (via Malahide Road) be confirmed with the addition of “subject to feasibility study”.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that none of these routes be included.)
SH14.2 Mark Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network on the Development Plan maps
That the proposed amendment to mark the routes of the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan within Fingal on the relevant Development Plan maps be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
4.32 Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking scheme
That the proposed amendment:
Insert new Objective Skerries Promote and facilitate the development of the Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking Scheme along the Coast Road within the lifetime of this Development Plan”
be altered to now read:
“Insert new Objective Skerries
Promote and facilitate the development of the Balbriggan to Skerries cycling/walking Scheme along the Coast Road within two years of the adoption of this Development Plan”
as requested in the submission received.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this two year time limit not be included.)
Low-carbon development and building
3.15 Low-carbon developments
That the proposed amendment
“Insert new Objective PM at Section 3.4 Sustainable Design and Standards New urban developments in Fingal will be required to be low-carbon developments, in all aspects of layout design and construction”
be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
3.16 Low-carbon building materials
That the proposed amendment
“Insert new Objective PM at Section 3.4 Sustainable Design and Standards In general, require the use of low carbon building materials and where available use Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for the assessment of the sustainable use of resources and of the impact of constructions works on the environment.”
be confir(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
Quarries
5.18 Extractive industries
That in light of the SEA assessment that “The deletion of this text is directly negative for biodiversity, water, population, landscape, soil/ landuse.” the deletion proposed in amendment 5.18 not be made.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending this amendment which deletes strict criteria to be met for quarrying.)
5.20 Extractive industries
That in light of the SEA assessment that “The deletion of this text is directly negative for biodiversity, water, population, landscape, soil/ landuse.” the deletion proposed in amendment 5.20 not be made.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending this amendment which deletes strict criteria to be met for quarrying.)
Public transport routes
For background, please see my posts relating to these routes
SH7.7 Public transport reservation Swords to Donabate
That the proposed amendment to insert a public transport reservation Swords to Donabate be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
SH9.12 Public transport reservation from Metro West alignment to Balgriffin
That the proposed amendment to insert a public transport reservation – Metro West alignment aka Light Rail Corridor to Balgriffin – be confirmed.
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)
SH9.13 Public transport reservation from Balgriffin to Portmarnock
That the proposed amendment to insert a public transport reservation – Balgriffin to Portmarnock – be confirmed
(Unfortunately the Chief Executive is recommending that this amendment not be included.)

Amendments to County Development Plan

Fingal County Council is currently preparing the County Development Plan to run from 2017 to 2023. The Draft Plan was on public display between February and April 2016 and a report on the over 900 responses received was supplied to Councillors at the end of July.

As Councillors we had until yesterday, 6th September, to draft proposals to amend the Plan based on the public consultation.  Those  amendments which the Council agrees to will go on public display in November.

I submitted amendments to a wide range of topics in the plan. A copy of my proposed amendments is here. In order to make them easy to navigate I have grouped them into the following topics:

  • On Special Amenity Area Order and Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve
  • On cycle pedestrian routes to be added to the map
  • On public transport reservation from Clongriffin/Portmarnock – Balgriffin – Belcamp – Clonshaugh to metro reservations south of Dublin Airport
  • In relation to the Moyne Road bypass proposal based on discussions at the previous stage of the Development Plan and in response to submissions by the developer of the adjoining residentially zoned land and Portmarnock Community Association
  • On the zoning of the industrial estates beside Howth Junction railway station based on issues I raised at the previous stage of the Plan and a submission from a local business.
  • On the process for sub-county level plans based on the experience of Fingal councillors and citizens as well as submissions from public authorities including the National Transport Authority
  • Based on Fáilte Ireland’s submission
  • In relation to the circular economy and sustainable resource use
  • In response to the submission by Keep Ireland Open, Fáilte Ireland and others concerned with access to the countryside
  • Based on concerns about Fingal’s approach to open space in high density development, an issue raised both by developers and residents
  • On the transition to a low carbon climate resilient economy, a legal obligation of the Plan under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act and raised in a range of submissions
  • On adaptation to climate change
  • On Ecosystem Services Approach
  • Transport motions based on a range of submissions by local road users and public transport users and the NTA
  • Motion incorporating text from the Dublin City Development plan in relation to cycle parking as recommended by the submission from the National Transport Authority
  • In relation to cycling in response to a wide range of submissions seeking better and safer cycling insfrastructure.
  • Based on text in the National Cycling Policy Framework, to which some of the submissions refer.

Response to consultation on draft County Development Plan

My response to the draft Fingal Development Plan and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Plan is here.

The main issues in my consultation response were sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, transport, car-oriented development, cycling, road proposals, aviation, building energy use, and renewable energy. A recurrent theme under many of these headings was the lack of actual assessment in the SEA report.

As Councillors, we will receive a report on all consultations responses in July and based on that feedback can submit amendments to the plan in August for meetings in September. I would welcome any feedback on the issues in my submission or on or any other aspect of the Development Plan.