O’Brien warns of more coastal pollution and collapse of Irish Water

I believe  that the bathing water pollution long suffered by the people of Rush could become a feature for all coastal towns in north Dublin. Below is a a statement i made, before the public protest in Rush for the much delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant :

It is heartening to see people getting out marching for their environment and their community, which has been neglected for far too long. All those involved in organising this protest  should be acknowledged and I hope it leads to sustained pressure on Fingal County Council that will help ensure that there are no further delays in connecting Rush with the waste water treatment plant in Portrane.

Joe at a public protest in Rush for the  delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant

Joe at a public protest in Rush for the delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant.

It’s important to point out that there are also broader issues at play here that are relevant to other coastal communities in north Dublin and indeed for the whole country. It might surprise people to learn that already this month there were four days when pollution incidents in Donabate, Portrane, Loughshinny, Skerries, Balbriggan and Portmarnock made the bathing waters there unsafe to use. It’s unacceptable that in the month of July – perhaps the most popular month for swimming – all our bathing waters along the coast have been unusable for a considerable period of time. So even where the Council has deemed wastewater treatment as adequate our bathing waters are still getting seriously polluted. Our wastewater treatment systems do not have the capacity to deal with the heavy falls of rain that are becoming increasingly frequent. The result is that they are being flooded and sewage is entering the sea all along the coast. So it’s now very evident that all along the Fingal coast our wastewater treatment systems need further upgrading if they are going to cope with the twin challenge of increasing populations and heavier rainfall. The planned giant sewage plant at Clonsaugh is not the answer and is far from risk free. Our Blue Flags are also at increasing risk and I think the people of my hometown of Skerries were shocked and disappointed that we lost our Blue Flag this year.

The other big issue that this protest highlights is the sick monster that is Irish Water. There must be serious concerns now about its financial viability given the low level of people paying their water and waste water treatment bills. We in the Green Party have proposed that the investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure which is urgently needed across the country should now be funded by a combination of central government and EU funds. People should only be charged for water after they have used a much more generous and reasonable daily allowance.

Irish Water needs serious reform and has been an example of how not to do things. However, if it collapsed now I would be concerned that all the money invested would be lost and communities all along the coast and indeed all over the country would have to tolerate polluted waters and unsafe drinking water on an increasingly frequent basis.  The current system of charges is the worst in every regard in that it is neither fair nor does it encourage people to conserve our precious resource.

I would also like to draw your  attention to the fact that Fingal County Council are accepting submission until July 28th on potential new bathing waters in the county:

If you wish to propose your favourite beach/river etc as a new bathing water site or comment on an existing site please contact Fingal County Council by email at bathingwaters@fingal.ie or by post.

For more information contact Joe at 087-9608540 or joefingalgreen@gmail.com

Carbon neutral towns – My Submission to the Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023

I have made my own submission to The Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023 in which i have placed an emphasis on carbon neutral development. Please see the following article below which sets out the reasoning behind my proposals.

http://www.northcountyleader.ie/2015/05/26/obrien-wants-carbon-neutral-plan-for-skerries/

My Submission can be read in the attached document below, along with example of the Low Carbon City Plan for the city of Freemantle in Australia

Joe O’Brien – Fingal Development Plan

Carbon Neutral Freemantle

 

 

Government approach to transport will fail north Dublin

Proposed Luas line provides half the capacity and takes twice as long 

Green Party representative for Dublin Fingal, Joe O’Brien, has today stated his disappointment with reports that Minister Donohoe intends to proceed with a sub-optimal solution for north Dublin’s transport needs. In a submission to the National Transport Authority (NTA) on its recent North Dublin Transport Study(see attachments below),the respondents in a Green Party survey(see attachments below) outlined a clear preference for Metro North, believing that it is the best option to serve the area’s current and future transport needs.

The indication that the Minister intends to proceed with the Luas option, which has half the capacity and takes twice as long, will leave the residents of north Dublin short-changed on the State’s investment.
O’Brien said: “It’s disappointing to hear that Minister Donohoe has outlined his preference for a transport option which will fail to meet the needs of a growing north Dublin population. As the Green Party outlined in its submission to the NTA, Metro North represents the best solution to the impending, inevitable transport bottleneck which will develop as the area’s population expands dramatically.
“It’s clear that the best option for the Swords-Airport-City Centre corridor is the optimised Metro. The proposed Luas line that Minister O’Donohoe seems set to sanction will not provide the speed or carrying capacity that the community needs.
“The whole of north County Dublin and City needs better interconnection. If the optimised Metro proposal had a connection with the rail line at Donabate it would open up Swords and the airport to all the towns along the coast of north Dublin such as Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush, Malahide and vice versa.
“Although the initial costs of the Metro are higher, when the long-term benefits are considered, it represents the best option for the route. We are already starting to see Dublin’s transport system creaking to a halt as the M50 and the major approach roads clog up. The Government is spending twice as much on new roads as it is on public transport, and we are starting to see the consequences.
“We need to be planning long-term, comprehensive transport solutions that will actually pull people off an increasingly congested M1 and M50, and onto accessible, affordable and comfortable public transport. This government just does not get public transport, nor the need to reduce our transport emissions.
“With long term interest rates at record low levels, this was the time to think big and invest in our future in a really ambitious way. Instead Fine Gael and Labour are going for a cheaper option which will ultimately leave us all short-changed.”

Attachments

(https://greenparty.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/GreensSubmissionNTANorthDublin.pdf)

https://www.surveymonkey.com/create/survey/preview?sm=3KPjjK71lQWHiQd_2BF5lT2wNDwQj0IYAHpoKOfppxjGu92yBky8Pb8rTcUxNB_2BfNn

 

Government needs to move beyond Troika mentality for Metro 22.01.15: 

O’Brien asks where has the 750k gone?

As Green Party representative for Dublin Fingal i question Fingal County Council’s commitment to the long overdue Skerries to Balbriggan cycleway and have asked the CEO of Fingal County Council what has happened to the initial allocation of €750,000.

It’s been five years since the money was allocated by the Department of Transport and bar some small sections between Balbriggan and Balrothery we have still to see any work being carried out of the ground for the Skerries-Balbriggan cycleway. At this stage I would have to question commitment levels to the project. I have written to the CEO to ask him

  • What is the current status and funding situation of the project?
  • Were all necessary Compulsory Purchase Orders obtained and progressed?
  • What has happened to the €750,000 allocation from 2010?
  • Has Fingal County Council applied (in 2014 or 2015) for funding from the National Transport Authority for the completion of this project?

 

 

In particular I would be concerned about the funding situation for the project and what has happened to the €750,000 that was previously allocated and how much has been spent on the Compulsory Purchase Orders. I think part of the reason that this project has been put on the long finger is the failure to see the huge community gains from connecting the towns of Skerries and Balbriggan not to mention that the huge asset of Ardgillan Demense would be opened up to so many more people by making it safer for families to walk or cycle there.

Joe O'Brien on Balbriggan Skerries road

Joe O’Brien on Balbriggan Skerries road

The Skerries to Balbriggan cycleway is just one key leg in what should be cycleway that will run all the way from Balbriggan to Sutton and would take in Ardgillan, Skerries, Rush, Donabate, Newbridge House, Rogerstown and Broadmeadow estuaries and Malahide castle and Portmarnock on its way to Dublin. It would truly be the jewel in Fingal’s tourism crown but also an important commuter route. However, there does not appear to be the vision or determination to make it happen. I think if we can get the Skerries to Balbriggan link completed both the public and the Council will begin to see the huge returns that cycleways have been proven to bring to local communities and economies. We can not only rival but easily surpass the gains that the Western Greenway has brought to Mayo and its environs due in no small part to the huge concentration of tourists on our doorstep in Dublin.

O’Brien wary of Roadstone plans for Skerries

Green Party rep for Dublin Fingal insists planning permission is needed for facility

 

 CRH don’t exactly have the cleanest record when it comes to following correct procedure and I find it interesting that they have not applied for planning permission to carry out this new activity at the quarry they own in Milverton, Skerries. While Roadstone have permission to develop the site as a quarry filling the quarry in with waste will require planning permission and the public consultation process that goes with it. I think as a community we need to be vigilant in terms of how Roadstone plans how to operate this proposed facility.

Joe O'Brien at Roadstone Quarry

Joe O’Brien at Roadstone Quarry

The recent process whereby people could only object to the EPA licence for the planned waste recovery facility if they submitted a fee of €200 was undemocratic, as people don’t generally have that kind of money to spare even if they have reasonable objections.
However I have formally requested the Council to clarify if the proposed new facility requires new planning permission. If this is the case then the community will be in a much better position to voice their objections. It would allow also allow an opportunity for conditions to be attached to the development that ensure environmental and biodiversity protection and minimal disruption to the community and road users.

I have submitted an application to Fingal County Council under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act to formally clarify if this proposed waste recovery facility requires planning permission and I will report back as soon as I get an answer.

O’Brien welcomes Council vote for greater political transparency

I have been pushing for this for over 2 years now, so I welcome the decision of the Council to allow for publication of Councillors financial, business and property interests on the Fingal County Council website . Two years ago I requested the former County Manager to publish the information but the request was refused. Last year I also requested the information under the Freedom of Information Acts and that request was also refused.

Following a question by my colleague Cllr. David Healy late last year the proposal went to a vote at the meeting of Councillors on Monday. While the vote was passed I have to say I was surprised that 14 members voted against the proposal. I believe that it is vital the public has full access to the information on financial, business and property interests of all elected politicians, not just TDs. History has taught us in Fingal that it is crucial that politicians are held to the highest standards of integrity and transparency.

I have already asked the Chief Executive to move swiftly now and publish the financial interests of all Councillors on the Council’s website. It is an aberration that such information is not already on the Council’s website unlike Dublin City Council.