Thank to everyone who came to the first meeting of the Green Forum in the Acre Project, Celbridge last Wednesday 4th Dec. The idea behind the Forum is to connect everyone interested in climate change and biodiversity recovery and to mobilise for concrete actions that can be scaled for maximum impact across the county. There was a great turn out of individuals and groups from Celbridge, Maynooth and Kilcock. We discussed key blocks and gaps for progress on major environmental concerns including waste, water pollution, transport and environmental management in the North Kildare area.
While there has been a lot of attention on National and Local Authority level actions, including the Climate Action Plan, Climate Adaptation Plans, the Covenant of Mayors etc, there has been little focus on supporting communities to collectively connect, accelerate and scale their ideas and actions. The aim of the Green Forum is to bring communities, companies, politicians, scientists, citizen scientists, young people, community groups and interested individuals together to bridge current gaps in achieving scalable and high impact change.
Government action can be slow but community engagement in climate action, where it is connected and aligned towards strong policy action bring new information and momentum to inform and drive policy change. An example is the growth of citizen science. Citizens around the world are creating data that show the extent and scale of a problem, highlight possible action areas, and provide a baseline for measuring the success of any measures. This rapid flexible and bottom-up approach gives an opportunity for real collaboration with Council and where relevant the private sector, for joined-up action on climate and biodiversity protection.
Example of data projects
The Forum saw presentations from residents already engaged in innovative projects to bring data to communities to help highlight environmental challenges.
Air Quality: Kevin Mullen and Keith Costigan, residents of Celbridge and Maynooth, demonstrated their air pollution initiative. They have installed two monitors in Celbridge: one at my office at Celbridge Bridge and the other in Castletown. While a lot more data is needed, initial findings suggest health risks from the air quality in Celbridge. Particles of 2.5 and 10 are measured and data is pushed to the international citizen-science Luftdaten website where it is fully accessible for everyone to view: https://maps.luftdaten.info/#14/53.3462/-6.5349
Luftdaten Celbridge – sample data:
Keith Costigan provided a dashboard of air quality data which is available here.
Dashboard – Celbridge Air Quality
It shows that, within the context of certain weather conditions, the air quality in Celbridge was a number of times higher than the WHO guidelines on Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December. The data suggests health risks particularly for vulnerable residents. However, much more data needs to be gathered before any conclusions can be drawn. Other interested Forum members will be joining with Keith and Kevin on these projects. More air pollution sensors will be rolled out across Maynooth, Naas and other parts of the county over the coming weeks. This project is so far self-funded by the residents and shows the huge amount of expertise and commitment within our communities. It is one example of the many projects and initiatives happening including Zero Waste Maynooth, Celbridge Waterways Trust, Derrybeg Farm among others.
This project aims to scale local knowledge of air pollution across the county in order to see the major sources of pollution, their scale, to find paths and actions to reduce the pollution and measure impact.
Roundup spraying: The Forum also discussed Glyphosate (Roundup herbicide) spraying in Celbridge and Leixlip MD. Information on the extent and volume of glyphosate use was requested as a motion to the Council with an addition request for the Council to map these areas for the public. The Council has provided information on the areas contracted to be sprayed in the MD as well as concentration levels and volumes.
Sample of data (download excel of all areas)
The Forum discussed removing glyphosate from the environment and it was clarified that while the Council has provided this information it does not have specific knowledge of where is sprayed within those areas. Members of the Forum will be working to get this data next year when spraying begins again.
To understand the potential impact of Glyphosate John Hirsch of Creme Global company gave a presentation to the Forum on a free model and assistance provided by the company to help communities test of the exposure level of communities to the herbicide. The Council are currently piloting ways to reduce glyphosate use and residents will run this project in parallel.
What can be discovered with the model – sample data
This project aims to scale information on herbicide spraying across the country and work for its complete phase-out to support biodiversity recovery.
The Green Forum was agreed as a valuable forum to explore for connecting and scaling actions as well as sharing knowledge. Everyone agreed for the next meeting to be held in January. The exciting programme is being developed now. Get involved and join the Green Forum at greenforum.vanessaliston.ie (new address in progress).