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Greens talk seas and trees in a pledge to 'make room for nature'

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Biodiversity: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and fellow candidates Cllrs David Healy and Caroline Conroy unveil their plan on Bull Island

Biodiversity: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and fellow candidates Cllrs David Healy and Caroline Conroy unveil their plan on Bull Island

Biodiversity: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and fellow candidates Cllrs David Healy and Caroline Conroy unveil their plan on Bull Island

All fishing and oil and gas exploration would be stopped in large tracts of Ireland's seas under a Green Party plan to turn half the country's territorial waters into Marine Protected Areas.

The party also wants almost a third of the country under tree cover within 10 years and will pay a planting premium to farmers to each plant a hectare of woodland on their farms.

Just 2pc of Irish waters is protected and only 11pc of land is under trees, which is one of the lowest rates in Europe.

"Core to what we're proposing is that we need to make room for nature," said Cllr David Healy, a candidate for Dublin Bay North.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said the policies would benefit farmers and fishing communities by ensuring long-term sustainable production.

"Our mission is to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis together in a way that improves all our quality of life," he said.

The party wants to overhaul and beef up agencies responsible for the environment. It proposes splitting the National Parks and Wildlife Service into two bodies, given the emphasis on tourism in the national parks.

It wants to take the final say on the granting of pollution control licences out of Environmental Protection Agency hands by setting up an independent appeals mechanism.

It also says an all-island agreement on environmental protection is crucial post-Brexit to address issues such as cross-Border pollution.

Mr Ryan played down opinion poll results showing just 15pc of 18-24-year-olds intend voting Green in the election.

That's the demographic credited with pushing climate action on to the political agenda and showing most concern for the environment, yet the Ipsos MRBI poll found only a minority equated that with voting Green.

Mr Ryan said the Green vote crossed all age groups and backgrounds and he was encouraged by the 15pc support among young people.

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"The critical thing is, will they turn out to vote?" he said. "If they turn out to vote, we'll have a very good election."

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