Council has failed to show leadership on climate change
2nd March, 2014
Following the recent spate of storms and damaging weather across Fingal local Green Party Rep Joe O’Brien has warned that Council budgets and funding for many local services will be badly hit if there is not sea change in political actions nationally and locally:
We will be known as the most irresponsible and short-sighted generation in history if there is not a fundamental change in political attitudes towards climate change urgently. Unfortunately most politics works in a knee jerk fashion and the gradual but accelerating nature of climate change has meant that most political leaders have chosen to ignore it. Having a Minister for the Environment who cannot bring himself to admit the need to act dramatically on climate change is akin to having a Minister for Health saying that the health service is all in order. But there is a lot of local responsibility aswell and I do believe that because local authorities nationally will be footing the bills for storm and flood damage is it at local level that leadership needs to be shown. However I think local government across Ireland and in Fingal has failed the people by adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach to climate change. It is frankly the height of irresponsibility.
I am sad to say that as the years progress I am becoming increasingly worried that my hometown of Skerries will be particularly badly hit by climate change. The recent damage done to the foundations of footpaths all along the South Strand has been quite extensive and dangerous. And this is all not long after the sea wall on the road to Balbriggan was repaired at significant cost. Not to mention of course the flood damage done to houses along the South Strand. The three main roads into Skerries have all shown themselves to be prone to serious flooding in recent years, businesses have been adversely affected and indeed Red Island which is in many ways the hub of Skerries social and leisure life is at long term risk of being disconnected from the mainland.
The major floods of November 2009 represented the largest insured loss ever in Ireland at €244 million at the time and the science has been telling us for some time now that we can expect more events like this. I have little doubt that the recent damage way surpasses this figure.
It was back in January 2013 that I wrote to the County Manager suggesting that the Council should be keeping account of weather related expenses that the Council is incurring such as flood prevention works and repairs to infrastructure after storms and flooding. I was frankly baffled to be fobbed off on such a basic and sensible suggestion. I have little doubt that such expenses have been rising yet there seems to be no interest in forward planning for what will be the biggest challenge to our communities and our lifestyles in the years to come across Fingal. Dramatically reducing our carbon emissions is the only way forward.
Repair work ongoing on the sea wall on the Balbriggan Road in Skerries – October 2013
Recent damage at the South Strand in Skerries – Jan and February 2014