Fingal to work on improving cycling access to Howth/Malahide Secondary Schools

Following discussions with teachers in two of the local secondary schools, I proposed the following motion to the Area Committee last week:

“That the Council consults with students and teachers in the secondary schools in the Howth / Malahide Area in relation to the improvements needed in order to improve the safety of the access routes to the schools and in order to facilitate an increase in the numbers of students travelling to and from school by foot or by bicycle and a reduction in the numbers travelling to school by car.”

The motion was agreed at the meeting. I think there is a mixture of approaches needed, varying between schools. Two important aspects of this are the Green Schools Committees, one of whose targets for getting Green Flags is transport, and the potential to get students involved in solving the problems they experience cycling to school

Submission to Metrolink consultation

I have made the following submission to the public consultation on the proposed Metrolink.​

1. Prioritise walking and cycling.

​Walking and cycling are the highest priority modes in transport policy. Logically therefore, public transport infrastructure proposals should not only not obstruct or degrade walking and cycling routes, every opportunity they present to improve permeability, safety, convenience and attractiveness for walking and cycling should be taken.​ Any public transport proposal such as this one should also be a scheme to improve walking and cycling in areas being served and affected.

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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 here.

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

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.

 

Make your observation in relation to the Baldoyle to Portmarnock Greenway by Friday

Friday is the deadline for observations on the proposed greenway from Baldoyle to Portmarnock. Observations should be made to An Bord Pleanála in relation to application 300840. My submission strongly supports the route which has been one of my main goals as a Councillor. The changes I propose to the application are that a) the lighting needs to be minimal to protect both the wildlife and the landscape and b) the path structure and surface need to be designed and built to a high standard.

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.

Public consultation on recognition of bathing waters

Fingal County Council is looking for input on identifying bathing waters in Fingal. Many heavily used bathing waters in the County are not recognised and therefore the water quality is not tested in accordance with the Bathing Water Directive. Untested waters include Balscadden Beach (below)

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High Rock Malahide (below)high-rock-malahide

and Broadmeadow Estuary, intensively used for dinghy sailing and kayaking.

Please respond to the consultation if you swim in any of these areas or in any other area.

An Bord Pleanála deletes Grange Road Junction from planning permission

In response to my observation, An Bord Pleanála has deleted the Grange Road junction redesign from the planning permission.

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These are the relevant findings in the inspector’s report:
“The proposed development includes works to increase the capacity of the signalised junction between Grange Road and Longfield Road. They would provide an extra lane on the Longfield Road approaching that junction, removing one that heads north away from the junction. They would also provide a left turning lane on the Grange Road approaching the junction from the east and move the signals there forward, removing an existing advance stop line for right-turning cyclists. The proposed works have been justified by the applicant and the Roads Division of the council by reference to modelling of vehicular movements, but an elected member has objected to them as they fail to provide a sufficient level of service for cyclists on a route identified for such in the development plan. The proposed works to the junction would diminish the level of service for cyclists travelling east on Grange Road by removing an advanced stop line and introducing another slip lane, but only to a limited extent. However the local area plan sets out a comprehensive set of proposals regarding roads and access that do not include the works to this junction. The details submitted in the course of the application do not address the potential impact of the proposed works on pedestrians and cyclists, nor do they address the role of Grange Road as an main route serving an area much wider than that covered by the LAP, or the implications of the designation of a school site beside the junction. In these circumstances it would not be prudent to authorise the works to the junction as part of the proposed development. If works are required to this junction, their effects would need to be properly considered by the council before the design was finalised. It would therefore be appropriate that the applicant’s contribution to such works was in the form of a special contribution under section 48(c) of the planning act.”

The full report is online at: http://www.pleanala.ie/casenum/248970.htm

I have included the issue of redesigning the junction for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on the agenda of the January area committee meeting.