Budget 2017’s Environment, Energy and Climate Action Measures
Recording breaking temperatures worldwide, devastating hurricanes like the recent one in Haiti, drought in the countries of Southern and Eastern Africa and rising sea levels on low-lying islands in the Pacific are all indicators of the impact of climate change. Ireland is one of the countries whose climate damaging emissions are among the highest per person in the world. It is debatable if the measures in Budget 2017 will have any significant impact on helping us reach our emissions reduction targets.
On the positive side the Budget had some welcome developments that will be implemented by Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Among these is the plan to set up a ‘National Dialogue on Climate Change’. There were a number of other measures in the area of energy efficiency and the continuation of VRT relief on new electric vehicles. Further details are available in the press release at http://www.dccae.gov.ie.
Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications,
Climate Action and Environment.
The burning of coal, oil and peat for electricity generation is still is a big contributor to Ireland’s high emissions – Budget 2017 changes nothing on this score. Agriculture is also a huge emitter of damaging greenhouse gases. While funding was approved for new GLAS scheme (Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme) – and this will have some positive environmental impact – there is not enough being done to deal with emissions from the beef and dairy sectors.
What was also missing from Budget 2017 was a focus on more support for public transport that would encourage people to make more use of trains and buses and less use of cars. The investment in public transport is not enough to make an adequate impact on emissions from transport. There was no mention of a move towards electrification of trains and urban buses or even more cycle ways.
Separate from the Budget we hear that the Government will delay Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement until negotiations on 2030 EU emissions targets from agriculture are concluded. Time will tell the extent to which we in Ireland will play our part in dealing with the greatest challenge ever facing humanity. The people of Haiti are suffering the effects of a hurricane Matthew – over a thousand deaths and houses and schools destroyed. Climate change will mean more frequent and more severe hurricanes. You can help provide some immediate support to the people of Haiti by donating to Concern’s Haiti Hurricane Appeal. See ‘Donate – Appeals’ at http://www.concern.net.
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GIY groups celebrate at new centre in Waterford
Last weekend local food was the focus not just at the Taste of Monaghan but also at the opening of the GIY (Grow it Yourself) HQ in Waterford. Liam Murtagh of Transtition Monaghan and also of Castleblayney Community Gardens Group went along to a gathering of ‘GIYers’. They were there to view the facilities at Grow HQ and meet the team of people who wll lead the revolution that is needed in reconnecting people with growing, cooking and eating local food.
Pictured at the opening of the Grow HQ in Waterford were Liam Murtagh, (Transition Monaghan,) Michael Kelly (Founder of GIY) and Lucy Bell, Master Grower at GIY HQ. The new Grow HQ with its green roof is in the background.
Michael Kelly was an IT professional who one day during his shopping trip bought a bulb of garlic. He happened to notice that on the supermarket’s price tag that China was given as the country of origin. He knew from his little knowledge of vegetables that garlic can be grown in Ireland so why, he asked himself, was he buying garlic that had travelled thousands of kilometres from China. This was Michael’s first lightbulb moment. He started on a journey of growing food at home and going on to found the GIY movement – an organisation dedicated to growing and promoting home grown food.
The latest stage in the GIY journey has been the completion of the €1.4m Grow HQ. It’s located near University Hospital Waterford and the Solas Cancer Centre. . Michael Kelly says that this is intentional as both the hospital and GIY are about health – one focused on treatment of disease and the other on prevention. The facilities at the Grow HQ currently include a restaurant, a shop and training rooms. Even though the grounds have only been available to GIY for growing for the past few months Lucy Bell and her team have been growing and harvesting vegetables and herbs. Many demonstration gardens have yet to be developed.
The visiting GIYers were given a tour of the gardens and a lunch comprising beetroot soup and Waterford blaas (bread rolls) along with a combination of food from the gardens and locally grown food. The event also featured the national final of the GIY Spúd Off – a potato growing and cooking competition. The winner was Gavin Mauder from Cork who grew his ‘Pink fir apple’ variety of potatoes in a bag. One of the adjudicators was Aoife Aherne, Bord Bia’s Potato Ambassador and also a panellist on RTE’s Operation Transformation. She reminded everybody of the importance of having unprocessed carbohydrates in our diet and potatoes are the ideal choice.
Michael Kelly, Founder of GIY gives GIYers a tour of the new gardens at GIYs Grow HQ
The GIY day at Grow HQ included announcements of a number of new GIY campaigns. These include an Orchard in an Hour Campaign which will involve five fruit trees being given free of charge to the first 100 groups who apply. An announcement of a new phase of the funding under the Get Ireland Growing Fund which will support community growing projects around Ireland. The development and support of ‘cottage markets’ around the country is another project which is being developed by GIY. The motto of cottage market motto is ‘homegrown, homemade and homecrafted’.
The day concluded with an announcement of the various new one day courses which will be delivered at Grow HQ. New GIY groups are always welcome to join the GIY network. The GIY website has plenty of tips for anyone who wants to grow their own. So why not start your own GIY journey now by buying some garlic and planting it now for harvesting next year. Check out http://www.giyinternational.org.
Mute Swans preening themselves at the water’s edge (left); one of the many apple trees laden with fruit in the old walled orchard at Hope Castle (middle); the downy seed head of a Rosebay Willowherb which has colonised what used to be a sand bunker on the former 9-hole golf course near Hope Castle and Lough Muckno (right).
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Daubenton’s Bat detected on survey of Clarebane River
Bats are a vital part of our native wildlife and an excellent indicator of the health of the natural world around us. Pat Merrick of Castleblayney Tidy Towns and Liam Murtagh of Transition Monaghan recently undertook a local survey of one of eleven species of bats in Ireland. Daubenton’s Bat, which is also known as the ‘water bat’ (or ‘ialtóg uisce’ in Irish) was detected at a number of points on the Clarebane River near Castleblayney. Liam now tells us more about this unusual bat and how they were detected.
We are used to bats flying around houses at dusk. The Daubenton’s Bat is not among such bats. You need to go to a river, lake or canal to find it. It is then easily recognised in flight by its low level flight a few centimetres above the surface of the water. It skims like a hovercraft above the water in search of caddisflies, mayflies and midges, and may even scoop prey from the water surface using its big feet. A Daubenton’s Bat can even swim if it makes a mistake and ends up in the water. It roosts in crevices in stone bridges and rocky outcrops. When bats go hunting, they use echolocation which is an ultrasonic sound, which we humans can’t hear. A bat detector facilitates us to eavesdrop on these hunting calls and it also helps us know that they are flying as it can be difficult to see them as darkness fall.
A Daubenton’s Bat in flight over a river
All bats in Ireland are protected species. Bat Conservation Ireland is an all-Ireland charity that promotes the conservation of bats and their habitats. In early July Monaghan Tidy Towns Network in association with Inniskeen Tidy Towns hosted a Daubenton’s Bat workshop in Inniskeen. The workshop was delivered by Dr Tina Aughney of Bat Conservation Ireland and attended by Tidy Towns volunteers. Those attending were briefed on how to conduct a local Daubenton’s Bat survey. A bat detector was supplied to each group of volunteer surveyors. The survey involved walking a 1km stretch of river on two nights in August – once at the start of the month, and once at the end – and stopping every 100m to observe the water for 4 minutes and counting the number of bats which pass low over the water’s surface. The survey can only commence at dusk – at least 40 minutes after sunset.
Bat detecting at the Clarebane River were Pat Merrick (left) and Liam Murtagh (right)
The survey of the Clarebane River involved us surveying a 1km of river downstream of the Water Extraction Works as the river emerges from Lough Muckno and as far as Clarebane Bridge which is near the border with Co Armagh. With the assistance of the bat detector and our torches we saw and heard a number of Daubenton’s Bats flying over the river. They were only present on the stretch of river close to the Water Works and on another stretch near the old stone Clarebane Bridge. We were relieved that we actually found some. The results of this survey are now being collated by Bat Conservation Ireland along with survey results being submitted from other parts of Ireland. The collated results will give a picture of how Daubenton’s Bats are faring nationally. For further information on bats see http://www.batconservationireland.org.
Collecting seed from our Native Trees
Pictured above is John McKeon (on ladder) along with some of 30 participants on Transition Monaghan’s Seed Saving event in Castleblayney on Sunday last. Seeds were collected from a number of our native trees and John then demonstrated ways of storing and sowing the seed.
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