By Brendan McCormack, Local Chairperson
We live in interesting times. This is without doubt. 2020 has brought challenges that no one could have imagined 12 months ago. We have always known in the Green Party that the world is changing and Covid-19 has shown just how vulnerable we are to that. Again and again, we have seen how our communities rise to the challenge, how front line workers have performed courageously and at great risk, how our young have adapted to circumstances no students have ever encountered, and how local, national and European politics plays a part in preparing us and allocating the necessary resources for all of us to come through this. We also recognise that our recovery and our future will be centred on green policies.
Cork South West is a place that is vulnerable to climate change – droughts and floods are only going to get worse. Our coastal settlements are vulnerable to sea level rise and more erosion. Our economy is dependent on the quality of our environment – it’s part of our brand and why people visit or choose to live here and why they buy our quality foods. We can get a grip and really help in the fight for a safer climate or be victims. Let’s cop-on and make the most of how we can really rise to climate change as a threat.
Locally, we have been focused this year on submissions to the Cork County Development Plan, which when complete, will determine how a lot of County will look through to 2028.
We want to see better planning for age-friendly and high quality accessible pedestrian access to streets and squares in our towns and villages. Our waste management policies must increase the availability of recycling and encourage the reusing of resources. Our streets and roads must benefit from increased spending on pedestrianisation and priority cycling routes. Our local link bus services can be expanded to provide better mobility for the elderly and the young.
Our towns and villages must benefit from initiatives centred on creating smart sustainable communities. The benefits of remote working have to be encouraged. This will make a big difference to rural Cork attracting jobs. We want bring people back into our town centres and to stop the waste of unused buildings. These are changes Cork County Council can make. We also want to see a Museum of West Cork established so that the full story of our region’s history, where our environment and culture is brought to the fore. We’ve got a great story to tell.
We want to see biodiversity prioritised, for the Council to take this seriously before it is too late. How much better our towns and villages would look with flower-filled verges and green spaces. Why shouldn’t we see SW Cork more nature-rich and leading the way in using our quality environment to create more jobs and resilience? We have made submissions to Coillte on the use of glysophates near Lough Hyne, to Cork CoCo on the cutting down of mature woodlands near Inishannon, and on the flooding events in August and most recently in Bantry. We have asked our Ministers to look into the recent issue of inshore fishing that is causing damage to Special Areas of Conservation in Bantry Bay. Our local representative, Dr Marc O’Riain, led a community action in Kinsale against a 4G Vodafone mast being erected within the Area of Architectural conservation and on the historic town wall.
The new Development plan offers a chance to build in social justice into our plans. Our urban and rural ways of life must be protected. It should be easy to be more sustainable but the County must help this along.
If you want to be part of this, get in touch now. We will be building towards running candidates at the next local elections in the three areas – Kinsale/Bandon, Skibbereen/Clonakilty, and Bantry/Beara. We will be looking to win seats in all three. If we do not put biodiversity and climate change at the heart of our local Government thinking, we will be beset with challenges we are not ready for. And real opportunities will be missed. Nature really is our ‘green gold’.
If you would like to get in touch, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on our facebook page ‘Cork South West Green Party’ or on twitter at @GreenPartyCSW