Deadline Extended On Making Dublin Greener

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

Schools have asked and we have listened – the Dublin Gazette has extended its deadline until  next week (May 2) to give students the time to put the finishing touches on their projects.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s the ability to adapt and to be flexible, where possible. Sickness, bank holidays and the Easter break delayed some classes that were passionate to be involved in our Making Dublin Greener competition, so we decided to be one less hurdle towards our collected goal of making Dublin a more sustainable place in which to live. 

The Dublin Gazette launched this competition with the idea of giving the younger generation, who will be most affected by climate change, an opportunity to have their say and influence the so-called “decision-makers”, who continue to drag their feet and fail to read from the same hymn sheet when it comes to implementing policy change.

One such example is the debate surrounding turf, which has dominated Ireland’s climate news over the past number of weeks. The Minister for Environment, Eamon Ryan, has been placed firmly in the hot seat, as he confirmed that the government has yet to agree on proposed new regulations regarding the commercial sale and distribution of turf, scheduled to come into effect this September.

Speaking to Newstalk earlier this week, the minister criticised what he described as “huge misinformation and disinformation” surrounding the drafted proposals.

He clarified that penalties would not be placed upon people who gift or sell small amounts of the fuel to their family and neighbours, saying that the regulations will focus on the large scale and commercial sale of smoky fuels. 

The proposals come in an effort to reduce the 1,300 deaths that occur annually in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning, an estimate that was published by the European Environment Agency’s 2020 report on Air Quality in Europe.

“Would we wait [until] next winter, when we have our trolley crisis and part of the problem is that at that most difficult time of year is when most people are in hospital because of respiratory problems that come with air pollution?” Mr Ryan asked.

The Minister for Environment also alleged that households in small villages, with populations of fewer than 500 people, will continue to be allowed to burn turf. This point has come under scrutiny by members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and opposition parties, including Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen.

Mr Cowen dismissed an exemption for villages of fewer than 500 people as “senseless”, claiming that it would not accommodate existing relationships between commercial cutters and families that need a supply and do not have their own resource for turf.

He described such people as a “vulnerable cohort that just can’t be cut adrift” and claimed that the proposed intervention should not be necessary, as the number of people burning turf is naturally declining.

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