Monthly Archives: April 2015

Submission to Fingal Local Economic and Community Plan

 My submission to the consultation on the Fingal Economic and Community Plan makes the following points:

1. The plan needs to be based in Sustainable Development, i.e. meeting the needs of the current generation without impairing the ability of the planet to meet the needs of future generations.

Ireland committed to following a sustainable development path in Rio in 1992. The current sustainable development framework for Ireland Our Sustainable Future reaffirms that commitment and sets out in some detail the challenges we face. Importantly the Taoiseach and the then Minister for the Environment emphasised the role of all sectors of society and all elements of government:

Our Sustainable Future provides a platform for a joined-up approach to policy-making across all sectors to ensure cohesive, rigorous and soundly-based decision making. Ultimately, sustainable development is about ourselves, the degree to which we manage our resources and value our natural environment as we move forward as an economy and as a society.

This framework charts a way for us collectively – Government, at its various levels, and civil society, in its many components – to meet this challenge.”

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD

Decoupling environmental degradation and resource consumption from economic and social development is an enduring challenge in Ireland as elsewhere and requires a paradigm shift in our approach to future development. The ‘business-as-usual’ approach will not suffice; we require a major reorientation of public and private investment, particularly in terms of innovation, research and development in those areas where we need radically new approaches. We need a more developed “green economy” focus, achieving a more mutually supportive interface between environmental protection and economic development, while also ensuring that our approaches are socially sustainable. Our Sustainable Future is premised on this and the measures contained within it are designed to position us firmly on the desired path.

Getting there will require the support and engagement of all sectors of society and I see the effective implementation of this framework as a key challenge.”

Minister for the Environment Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, TD

The current Minister for the Environment is equally clear about the central role sustainable development must plan in our planning and governance:

Sustainable development is the critical global issue of our times, and provides the solution to so many of our environmental, economic and social challenges. It is the bottom line for our planet and needs to be integrated into every decision that we make about how we organise and develop our society. For us here in Ireland, we must face up to this imperative by setting our environment and our economy on a path compatible with a sustainable future.”

Minister for the Environment Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly, TD

Taking this policy context, the proposed goals fall far short of what is required. They do not even mention sustainable development, not to mind putting a sustainable development analysis at the core of the plan. The plan should acknowledge the enormity of the challenge we face in transitioning to sustainability and use sustainable development as an analytical framework to develop the goals and actions to be included in the plan. This means identifying the needs to be met and then exploring how to meet those needs in a sustainable fashion.

2. In the Green Economy area there is a wealth of analysis which should be drawn on. In particular, the Environmental Pillar has developed detailed recommendations which should be considered for application in Fingal.

The plan should draw on experience of local authorities in other countries in driving transition to the Green Economy, including through enterprise policies and supports, local taxation, public procurement, planning requirements, etc. A good starting point for the experiences of a wide range of local authorities is the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives.

3. The process for making a submission is unnecessarily complex. It should be possible to make a submission by email. In addition, although the closing date is today 22nd April, I found this evening that the website has already closed. The consultation also falls short in that there is no explanation of the origin of the 18 goals proposed for consultation.



Green Councillor condemns Irish Water’s illegal sewage outflow onto beach

​Cllr David Healy says EPA must prosecute Irish Water for licence breach

Wednesday 15th April 2015, Dublin.
Howth/Malahide Green Party Councillor​ David Healy ​has today called on the EPA to prosecute Irish Water for the ongoing sewage discharge into Doldrum Bay, Howth.
​The discharge licence given to the Ringsend treatment plant in 2010 required that the Doldrum Bay discharge be ended by December 2011​. However, Irish Water now says that it wants the licence reviewed to allow the discharge to continue.​
​This discharge from a small residential area flows straight onto the small beach on the south side of Howth. Local people have put up a fence​ to warn walkers and swimmers.
Cllr Healy commented: “The EPA have failed for 4 years to enforce the condition of the licence. It is particularly shocking that Irish Water now wants to deal with the situation by removing the licence condition requiring it to stop discharging sewage onto the beach.
“The Government have repeatedly assured the public that Irish Water is needed to guarantee investment in prevention of water pollution, but in this instance they are clearly attempting to circumvent their responsibilities. The harsh reality seems to be that Irish Water is looking to save money by getting permission to pollute our beaches. I’m calling on the EPA to immediately move to prosecute Irish Water for this ongoing breach of its licence.”
This is a longstanding discharge from a population of about 100 people on the south side of Howth. Location: 53.364089, -6.070370​. The pipe discharges directly onto the stony beach.
When the Ringsend sewage treatment plant received its discharge licence in July 2010 one of the conditions was that the Doldrum Bay untreated outfall be ended by 31st December 2011. (Licence D0034/01  Condition 3 / Schedule A.3)
​Fingal County Council sought funding from the Department of the Environment to end the discharge but no funding was allocated.​
However, Irish Water have now decided to try to leave the discharge. In their Annual Environmental Report (AER) for 2014, submitted to the EPA last month, they acknowledge they have done nothing to comply with the licence condition and say:
“IW are seeking that the Doldrum bay discharge is to be considered as a secondary discharge within the Ringsend agglomeration discharging to coastal waters (not sensitive waters) with a greater than 70% reduction in BOD, IW will prepare and present a case to the EPA in this regard as part of a license review.”
For comparison, the previous AER, submitted by Dublin City Council in early 2014 said:
“The discharge into Doldrum Bay, secondary discharge point S4 Fingal, has not ceased and did not cease by 31st December 2011. Funding for the construction of the scheme,estimated at €1.5m, was not included in the Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP) 2010-2012. However, it was approved to move to planning stage under the Portmarnock Drainage Scheme in the 2010-2012 WSIP.
“Fingal County Council retained Consultants to investigate options for halting the discharge. The preferred option was two small pumping stations to transfer the effluent ultimately to Ringsend WWTP. An Options Review Report was submitted to the DoEHLG in Aug 2012. It was rejected by the DoEHLG in August 2013.
“A Business Case has been made to Irish Water to proceed with the preferred Option.”