Monthly Archives: November 2005

Access to Information

Although the Government has seriously weakened the Freedom of
Information Act, there are other important remedies available to the
public, especially in the area of environmental information. 
Ireland has signed up to the Aarhus Convention on Access to
Information,Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to
Justice in Environmental Matters. ( Unfortunately
the government has not yet ratified the Convention so it is not in
force here.

However, the European Union has taken action to implement the Aarhus
Convention.  (  In
particular, it has implemented two Directives:

  • Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
    of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and
    repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC, and
  • Directive 2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the
    Council of 26 May 2003 providing for public participation in respect of
    the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the
    environment and amending with regard to public participation and access
    to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC

Both of these Directives should have been implemented in Ireland already – in February and June 2005. #

However, you can still rely on the information Directive and on the
existing Irish Regulations , SI 125 of 1998
( which provide that all public authorities must make environmental information available (with certain limited exemptions). Unlike the Freedom of Information Act, there is no charge for making a request for this information.

Additionally, if there is any way in which I can help you get
information, by putting down questions at Council meetings or if you
would like a Green Party TD to put down questions in the Dáil, please
let me know.

Eastern River Basin District Advisory Council

Fingal is part of the Eastern River Basin District (, set
up to comply with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.

At the moment the Advisory Council for the Eastern River Basin District
is being set up.  Environmental NGOs are coordinating their input
through the Sustainable Water Network (, whose
website is also a good source of information on the Water Framework
Directive itself.

Traffic calming proposals for Bayside area

It was agreed at the local Area Committee meeting to put traffic
calming proposals for the Bayside area (Bayside Dart Station/ Sutton
Park/Sutton Downs/ Alden/ Verbena/Bayside Walk) on public display. Site
notices will go up around the area giving details of the times and
locations for the display  (which will include Baldoyle Library
and Mid-Sutton Community Centre) and for receipt of comments by the

Progress on Energy Issues at Fingal Development Board

As mentioned in the report below of 11th October I have been working on
getting energy issues onto the agenda at Fingal Development
Board.  There has been some progress, and a more detailed action
including seeking funding for the establishment of a Fingal Energy
Agency was agreed
at the last meeting of the Development Board on 10th November.  As
before I would welcome comments or advice.
Action:  Draw up a programme to ensure that all investment in
future development is energy efficient and to facilitate transition to
local sustainable energy systems.

Rationale:  Climate change and increased oil and gas prices means
we need to reduce energy demand and move to renewable energy
sources.  This can be usefully thought of as making correct
investment choices, for example

•    Invest in land use and layout, which minimises transport demand.

•    Invest in low energy transport not high-energy transport.

•    Invest in energy efficient housing, buildings and production systems.

•    Invest in renewable energy and infrastructure not fossil fuel infrastructure.

This shift in investment will follow experience in other countries in
particular Scandinavian countries but also Germany Spain and UK. 
Given the level of infrastructure investment in Ireland there is a
degree of urgency about influencing our investment choices.

Key Steps:

1. Reconstitute Sustainability Monitoring Committee with new terms of reference.

2.    Commission research on transition to sustainable
energy systems at a local level, to include recommendations, as a joint
project with the County Research Bureau (Action 13)

3.    Relying on research and with input from
stakeholders, draw up Fingal Implementation Programme for Transition to
Sustainable Energy Systems including pilot elements

4.    FDB and member agencies to adopt programme

5.    Implement pilot elements

6.    Monitor success of pilots and extend subject to agreement by FDB

Investigate and apply for funding from Intelligent Energy Europe  In
particular, the establishment of a Fingal Energy Agency (funding
€200,000/year for 3 years at 50% of costs), application deadline 31st
January 2006.

The previous plan had provision for a Renewable energy projects officer
(not implemented).  This would be included in a Fingal Energy


There are advantages for Fingal Development Board in applying for this funding:

1.    Multi-agency approach attractive

2.    Very high level of construction in Fingal

3.    A lot needs to be changed

4.    But a start has been made (i.e. bona fides are clear) e.g.

a.    Fingal County Hall

b.    higher conditions in Local Area Plans than are required by national Building Regulations

 I would be very interested in any feedback or suggestions.

Consultation on community facilities on Howth/Sutton peninsula

Have YOUR Say!

On Current & Future Community Facilities in Howth/Sutton

Each household in on Howth/Sutton peninsula is asked to participate in an important survey of Community Facilities.

Fáilteofar roimh freagraí agus tuairimí i nGaeilge

The Howth Sutton Community Council Ltd., Howth Sutton & District
Community Centre Ltd., and the Community, Culture and Sports Division
of Fingal Co. Co. have come together to set up a steering group to
undertake a needs analysis of community facilities which will provide
social, recreational and education needs for the whole Howth Sutton
community. This is an opportunity for Howth Sutton Residents to outline
your views and experiences of current and future community facilities
on the Peninsula.

A copy of the questionnaire will be delivered to every house on the
peninsula. If you didn’t get a copy or if you have any queries, please
contact Frances Murphy in The Old Courthouse, Howth, at 8320405 or by
email to

other questions from 3rd November 2005

Some of the issues I raised on 3rd November are written up as separate
pieces.  There are three other minor questions below. ITEM NO. 4


Question:    Councillor D. Healy

“To ask the Manager to report on the ongoing litter problem at Harbour
Road Howth, in particular the litter deriving from commercial premises?”


There are approximately 50 litter bins on Harbour Road, Howth.  In
addition to this, extra bins are provided at weekends to cater for the
influx of visitors to the area.  The street cleaning schedule for
Harbour Road includes a litter van and a hand cart operator who clean
and sweep the area on a daily basis, and a mechanical road sweeper,
which cleans the area each Sunday.  It is felt that this level of
service is sufficient for the needs of the area.

If the Councillor wishes to forward the names of the commercial
premises that are in breach of the Act, the Litter Warden will call to
the premises to remind the owners of their obligations under the Act or
face prosecution. The Litter Warden patrols the area on a daily basis
and will monitor the commercial premises along Harbour Road.

ITEM NO.  12



Question: Councillor D. Healy

“To ask the Manager to repair the footpath on Balkill Road between Dungriffan Road and Windgate Road?”


There is no provision in the current Transportation Programme of Works
for footpath improvements at the location referred to in the question.

Footpath improvements at this location will be considered for inclusion
in the context of the preparation of the Draft Transportation Programme
of Works for 2006.

ITEM NO.  13



Question: Councillor D. Healy

“To ask the Manager if he is satisfied with the stability of the slope
between Dunbo Hill and Church Street in the light of planning
applications on Dunbo Hill and anticipated construction traffic and
whether he would consider putting a weight limit on Dunbo Hill or
taking other steps to investigate the stability of the slope or reduce
the risk of failure?”


The slope at the location referred to in the question was examined by
officials from this Department on 20th October 2005 and was found to be

In the event of high levels of construction traffic using the road,
further examinations will take place with a view to ensuring continued
stability of the road.

New roads in Baldoyle/Portmarnock area

I have been trying since September to get a report from the Council as follows:

“That the Manager give a full report on the current status of proposed
new or altered roads in the Baldoyle/Portmarnock area, with a map to
show routes under consideration, proposed designs in planning
permissions etc. and with reference to various planning permissions in
force and in particular to address the options for the pedestrian and
cyclist routes along the Estuary.”

The fact that it should take so long is in itself worrying, as new
roads are being built by developers with insufficient control by the
Council.  Often the designs which are offered by developers are
particularly bad in the way they cater for pedestrians, which should be
the main priority in and near residential areas.  Also there is
still an unacceptable lack of progress in relation to the coastal
path.  This meeting will have to happen this month, or else it
will be on the agenda again for the area committee on 1st December.