Friday, April 24, 2009

Manch Estate Open Day Sunday 3rd May 2009

The family open days are always combine fun with learning. The next open day family activity is about Pond Life. If interested you are invited to meet  at Education Centre at 11.30am

Guided Walk - Led by Dave McCormick (UCC) who will explain his ongoing research here at Manch, examining the effect of tree cover on fish in the river Blackwater - Meet at Education Centre at 2pm

Open Days are held on the first Sunday of every month from March to November.
 These days offer an opportunity to explore this unique site, with over 20km of footpaths through woodland and along river banks.

Estate open for visits from 11am to 6pm

·       There will be a different family activity on offer every month.

·       A guided walk begins at the Education Centre at 2pm visiting a different area of the Estate each month

·       Admission is free and children are welcome.

Sorry - No dogs allowed on the Estate at any time

Biodiversity Week Sunday 17th May 2009 Event at Manch Estate

From the dawn chorus bird walk to the night time bat walk we are planning a full schedule of walks, talks and demonstrations including activities for families and children. Please follow this link for more details as they become available.

Venue is Manch Estate lies just north of the main Dunmanway to Bandon Road (R586) about 2 miles west of Ballineen and 5 miles east of Dunmanway. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Clonakilty Sustainability Meeting 7th May

The guest speaker for the meeting on the 7th May 2009 is Oisin Coughlan, Director of Friends of the Earth. This should be an interesting evening. Oisin has been head of Friends of the Earth, an organization that campaigns for environmental justice and sustainability since 2005. The meeting commencing at 8pm at the Quality hotel Clonakilty, All welcome

Ballydehob Irish Music Festival 18th April

Congratulations to Maud Jones and Tiernan Roe for yet another wonderful weekend of great music, dance, singing and irish culture. This was the 3rd year of the festival and it was like the previous two it was fantastic, a credit to the organizers who undertook this on a voluntary basis. Ballydehob was packed with people young and old, music was coming from every corner of the village, the highlight of the festival the concert on sat night was an outstanding success, followed by session's go lore in the village till late. All i can say is dont miss this next year.

National Famine Commemoration 2009 Skibbereen 10th-17th May

A very full and interesting programme is on offer for the National Commemoration of the Famine in Skibbereen with everything from walks, music, theatre, visual art, historical talks, fairtrade exhibition and more. Something for everyone to enjoy and plenty to learn about our troubled history and culture. Least we forget the great famine was an event that shaped world history with over 1.5 million people dead and millions more leaving our nation seeking refuge in countries across the world.   I will be giving two talks/presentation myself during the week, one on climate change and its implications for world hungry in the 21st century and another on partnership for change and the innovative projects we are sponsoring around the world in developing countries.

To find out more contact: Skibberen Heritage Centre
Tel: 028-40900

Kinsale Spring Fare 25th April

Transition Town Kinsale, Kinsale Tidy Towns and Kinsale Environment Watch present: Kinsale Spring Fair - Saturday 25th April at St. Multose Hall, Kinsale, 10.00 am - 4.00 pm

Ecomarket, Car Boot Sale, Workshops, Children's Entertainment, Face-painting, Powerdown TV Show, Egg-hatching, Electric Car, Art Expo, Bicycle-powered smoothies, Grow your own pumpkin competition and more.

West Cork & Cork City Holistic Health Directory Launch and Exhibition at Blue Haven Hotel, Kinsale, 11.00 am - 4.00 pm


SpringamaGig at Kinsale College of Further Education Amphitheatre, 7.00 pm

Featuring the Corrigans (trad), Snatch Comedy, Acapellabella (World Music Choir), The Good Rain, Fire Show, Plus much more music and entertainment.

Further Information:

Bandon Sustainability Film Screening 11th Hour

Transition Bandon will be screening the 11th hour on Tuesday at the Bandon Room, Munster Arms Hotel on the 28th April. All Welcome

Further Information 

Tel: 023 49965 or 0879567452 or email

Monday, April 20, 2009

Contaminants in sewage sludge and municipal waste water polluting agricultural soils, groundwater & rivers

Fabric softeners, disinfectants, shampoos and other household products are spreading drug-resistant bacteria, scientists have warned. Detergents used in factories and mills are also increasing the odds that some medicines will no longer be able to combat dangerous diseases.

The warning has been made by Birmingham and Warwick university scientists, who say disinfectants and other products washed into sewers and rivers are triggering the growth of drug-resistant microbes. Soil samples from many areas have been found to contain high levels of bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes, the scientists have discovered - raising fears that these may have already been picked up by humans. Currently over 45,000 Tonnes of sewage sludge is generated in Ireland each year and most of that ends up spread on farmland. The implications for landspreading of sewage sludge in Ireland are well documented in the past few years with the contamination of potable water supplies in Galway and other parts of Ireland. However this new research identifies alarming new risks associated with the spreading of sewage sludge on agricultural land and waste water discharges to rivers.

According to Dr William Gaze of Warwick University sewage sludge contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria whose growth is triggered by chemicals in detergents, he explained. "In addition, we pump billions of litres of water from houses and factories into our rivers and estuaries every day, and these are also spreading resistance."

Dr. Glaze says the results of their study were conclusive, showing that antibiotic resistant genes were present in high concentrations, leading the team to conclude that sludge and slurry can introduce genetic elements known to carry antibiotic resistance genes into the soil.

The sludge and slurry contains a cocktail of antibiotic and chemical traces, many of which can be traced back to household products, including a variety of commonly used personal care products, Dr. Glaze stated in his study report.

In their study, the scientists looked at quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) that are used in many household cleaning goods. Every day, huge volumes of these chemicals are flushed from homes and factories into sewers and rivers. In high concentrations, QACs kill bacteria. However, in sewage, these chemicals become diluted and bacteria have evolved resistance to them.

"That is a natural evolutionary process," said Gaze. "If other bacteria are killed, those that are resistant to QACs will survive and, without competition, will multiply in vast numbers. However, it turns out that the piece of DNA that confers that resistance also contains genes that confer resistance to antibiotics. In this way, we have created an ideal environment for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our soils, drains and sewers. These microbes are now being spread round the country in river water and in sewage sludge used on farms."

As part of its study, the team - which also includes Professor Peter Hawkey of Birmingham University - looked at soil contaminated with QACs and sewage sludge in the Midlands, the Cotswolds, Hertfordshire and other areas. Using techniques similar to those involved in DNA fingerprinting, they then looked for the presence of antibiotic-resistant genes - and found these in high concentrations.

"The inference is clear," added Gaze. "We are producing sewage and river water that have more and more drug-resistant bacteria in them and that these are now poised to enter the food chain."

Wellington added: "Once they are in the land, these bacteria will get into the bodies of agricultural workers or people who use the land recreationally and will form reservoirs of drug-resistant microbes that could pose all sorts of problems. This is going to need a great deal of monitoring."

In addition, the team found that antibiotics used to treat farm animals - in particular pigs - are also helping to spread drug resistance in the soil. In their tests, the team found samples of pig slurry that possessed high levels of antibiotic-resistant genes, raising fears that strains of resistant bacteria were contaminating the land by another route and could enter the food chain.

"We might think of special measures that will help us control or localise drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals, but the problem is much more widespread than that," added Wellington. "It is now out there in the environment."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The decline of local radio UTV and C103 Axes West Cork Today

West Cork suffered a serious blow to its identity and community spirit with the axing of the West Cork Today programme on local radio C103. The station which is owned by UTV recently decided to cut the West Cork service and combine the news section with the North Cork region which will mean inevitable reduction in coverage of local issues in both territories not to mention the loss of the excellent radio personality and journalist David Young who has served West Cork so well.

The decline of local radio will inflict serious damage on local communities, especially smaller towns and villages that depend on local radio to inform and publicize to the wider community issues about local politics and local events. 

Where one of the main vehicles of communication is restricted especially a service provider that is required to deliver local news it will have serious impacts on the wider community.

UTV license obligations require that they provide a local news service, by combining north cork with west cork they are diluting the service and neglecting its customers, you the listeners of West Cork.

West Cork badly needs its own radio news programme and David Young has provided an excellent service for many years. Cutting the local service and making valued radio journalists redundant that are the voice of West Cork news just isnt acceptable.

This is your radio station, and as its listeners, you are its life-blood providing essential advertising and revenue to its owners. If you happen to advertise with the station, you need to contact your account manager or contact C103 itself and remind them of who their customers are and let them know how you feel. 

You can also write to the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland let them know about the importance of local radio in providing regional areas with their own news service and its importance in supporting the local communities of West Cork. 

Minister requests end to purchasing carbon credits abroad

Environment Minister John Gormley has requested that the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) stops buying carbon credits abroad on the basis that Ireland will now meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol because of the recession.


The agency has purchased 5.25 million tonnes in carbon credits from developing countries over the past 15 months to offset emissions here, at a cost of €73.3 million. It also agreed to buy a further 3 million tonnes through international agencies. The cost of these purchases - via the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - has not yet been finalised. However, it is certain to bring the total investment in buying carbon credits abroad to well over €100 million.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Ireland is legally obliged to cap the increase in its greenhouse gas emissions at 13 per cent above 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012. With emissions rising rapidly during the boom, credits had to be purchased abroad.

Mr Gormley has now been told by his officials that the 8.25 million tonnes in credits is likely to be sufficient to meet Ireland’s Kyoto target for the five-year commitment period - due entirely to what the Minister termed the “rapidly changing economic outlook”.

This was confirmed in the most recent analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which assumed that Ireland’s GNP would contract by 7 per cent between 2007 and 2010.

However, Mr Gormley said it was now clear that even these projections were out of date. “Indeed, some commentators have suggested that we may now achieve Kyoto compliance without any recourse to carbon credits” - he told the Dáil. “Definitive judgment in this regard must be informed by further analysis by the EPA.”

In the meantime, his department had “asked the NTMA to put its programme of carbon purchasing on hold for the foreseeable future” - as the credits already purchased “should certainly be adequate to meet whatever need is likely to arise in the Kyoto period”.

However, the Minister cautioned against complacency, saying it would be “a profound misunderstanding of the realities of climate change to see these recent developments as a reason to ease off on our efforts to drive down emissions across the economy”.

Under the new EU climate package - Minister Gormley noted - Ireland must reduce its emissions by 20 per cent from the 2005 level by 2020 and it was likely to have an “even more ambitious target” if a new global agreement was reached on combating climate change.

“Every crisis must be turned into an opportunity” - the Minister said. “Our response to this crisis must ensure that, when economic growth resumes, it will be on a low-carbon trajectory” - including initiatives on home insulation, electric cars and other green technology.

He also announced that the commitment given in the programme for government to introduce an “environmental and sustainability pillar” into the social partnership process, saying that the absence of such a pillar during the boom years had been a “grave oversight”.

If environmental groups had been involved, “we could have avoided the worst excesses of the Celtic Tiger when it comes to planning and transport” - he said.

However, from now on, they would “ensure that economic decisions have at their very core the concept of sustainability”.

Source Irish Times

Sustainable Challenge

Here is my challenge I want you the people of West Cork to generate ideas for achieving 10 key goals for the sustainable development of West Cork. Focusing on the five key aspects of our environment - land, air, water, energy, and transportation.

I would like to hear your views and help develop a plan together that can become a model for the 21st century. The aim of this proposal is to help ensure a higher quality of life for generations to come and lay the seeds of a low carbon economy by reducing our global warming emissions.

Lets work together to build a better future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Who creates policy and who do they represent.

I read an interesting article in New Scientist the other morning. It was titled "leave education to the experts", I thought that it resonated with a lot of what I have believed for many years regarding local government. 

When we examine what were the various factors that lead to the current financial crisis in Ireland one of the first stages of the disease started with how we managed planning and development. 

What we had were in essence elected officials throughout the land that were acting on behalf of developers, zoning large areas of land for development without the slightest thought for sustainable development or its community. It was about greed, profit for the few to build as much houses as possible on the smallest piece of land, building on floodplain's or miles outside of towns or huge estates alongside tiny villages. In West Cork we even had the idea supported by some to build an entire new town in a rural area with no infrastructure on ground that was subject to flooding, at Annaghmore outside Inishannon. 

The latter is only recent history, barely a year ago this was what 23 of our elected County Councilors recommended. This brings me back to the article in New Scientist which examined science education and who sets education policies. Certain powerful factions in the US do not want evolutionary science taught in schools, instead they want creationism science taught, one that believes that the earth is only a few thousand years old and evolution does not exist.

In certain parts of the US elected officials were making decisions not based on who they represented but acting on behalf of lobby groups that supported their campaign. What is clearly needed the article suggested is elected officials who have expertise or credentials in the relevant areas that they are working in and can make decisions based on sound professional judgment for the public good.

When we consider again the Annaghmore debacle, we must reflect on who the 23 elected officials who supported the project represented. They didn't represent the County Council, who said that the development was not in the best interest of sustainable development; they didn't listen to the planning professionals within the County Council or the County Manager. They previously supported the Cork Area Strategic Development Plan (CASP) 2001-2020 which was adopted by Cork County Council and Cork City Council, yet they obviously didn’t read it as this proposed development overturned the recommendations and objectives for development in the County till 2020.

One must consider therefore why would so many elected councilors decide to change the strategy for planning and development for Cork, in clear opposition to the public body and planning Authority they represent and the communities in which they live?

Did these same elected officials have the science, land-use, planning, engineering or professional skills necessary to attempt to overturn development plans?

Did they listen to their own communities, like the people in Inishannon, Bandon, Kinsale, Enniskeane, Clonakilty, Dunmanway or any of the other towns in West Cork that would have been impacted negatively by this outrageous proposal?

Who therefore did they represent? Why would public County Councillors agree to a proposal for a new town on the outskirts of West Cork when the region has so many new uninhabited dwellings lying vacant throughout towns and villages in west cork. Why would any County Councillors representing these towns even consider that such a proposal would be good the for established communities which they represent. Many local businesses which are the backbone of many communities are suffering serious financial difficulties with increased competition from low cost multinationals and the economic downturn. The idea of building a new town approaching West Cork in such a location was not only outrageous but absurd and irresponsible. Those that supported the idea should be brought to task.

In a few weeks time, many of these public representatives will come knocking on your door, looking for your vote. It is evident that some of these individuals represent what is at the core of the crisis we now face in this country. Its time we let people who have the necessary skills and credentials to manage our affairs. We have had enough of public representatives who support decisions make by lobby groups or powerful wealthy supporters. What we need now are representatives who act on behalf of the community with the skills and experience to restore confidence in Local Government.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rosscarbery Heritage Society Thursday 16th April

I am giving a talk this thursday at 8pm in the celtic ross hotel on the environment and climate change.
Anyone interested can attend. Its important in the current political climate to keep the environment on the agenda. If anything the current financial chaos should remind us of the risk that climate change will pose in the coming years. My talk will end with the politics of climate change and the announcement of my intention to stand for election in the local elections on a platform of sustainability, developing a green economy and planning for climate change.