Radical moves on green spaces urged


THE STATE’S approach to planning for green spaces, habitat protection and biodiversity has been criticised in the latest report from Comhar, the Sustainable Development Council.

The report, Creating Green Infrastructure for Ireland, said tools such as “strategic environment assessments” and “environmental impact assessments” were “essentially reactive measures” and a more proactive approach was needed.

According to the council’s director of research and the report’s editor, Dr Cathy Maguire, a policy of providing for “green infrastructure”, whether it be a network of parks, or a series of recreational areas such as woodlands or football pitches, was necessary.

She said green infrastructure was “about quality of life issues, about space for cultural, recreational and quality of life activities, which could coexist with nurturing of ecosystems, protection of biodiversity and mitigating the effects of climate change”.

Launching the report in Clontarf, she said the choice facing planners in that vulnerable area was to opt for a major engineered solution to climate change and the problems of flooding, or to plan for a network of parks which would provide for biodiversity, cultural and recreational space and flood plains. She said proactive planning was about recognising the value of such areas in plans.

The report sets out how Ireland’s green infrastructure can be mapped so planners become aware of natural drainage and wetlands systems that can complement built developments. It contains a national framework map and three case studies, including an urban, peri-urban and rural case study covering northeast Dublin city; the Broadmeadow, in Fingal; and Offaly-Westmeath. Dr Maguire warned Ireland would face fines from Europe if directives on habitats, birds and water were not implemented correctly and added that planning for sustainable development was cheaper and healthier in the long term.