Monday 23 July 2018

'Future proofing' Swords discussed

Green Party host talk on how Swords might develop in the future

John Manning

The Green Party hosted a debate on the future of Swords recently and emphasised the need to 'future proof' the town against the challenges that the next years and decades will bring.

Mark Henry, the Green Party representative for Swords and Donabate, organised the public meeting to discuss 'future proofing our community' in Swords.

The guest speakers at the meeting were Dr. Cara Augustenborg of U.C.D. and Friends of the Earth, Ruth Buggie of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, and Eamon Ryan TD the leader of the Green Party.

Mark Henry introduced the event by saying: 'With so much change happening around us, we need to discuss how we can make our community a safe and enjoyable place to live for the next generation. We will need to make changes to our homes, in transport, in energy, and in the food that we eat. Tonight we will hear from experts in the area and let's discuss what it means for us in Swords and in the surrounding communities.'

Dr. Augustenborg spoke about the need to future-proof our community from the impact of climate change.

She said: 'To keep the increase in global temperatures to under 2 degrees centigrade, which is what the United Nations considers to be safe for our way of life, we can only burn 20% of our known fossil fuel reserves,

'This means that we need to retrofit our houses to use less energy, and we need to start generating our own through solar power and micro wind turbine. The ESB has forecast that one third of our houses will be generating their own electricity in these ways within ten years.'

Augustenborg also highlighted that we need to electrify our transport by switching to electric cars and by building electric light rail systems such as Metro North. She showed the audience two pictures of 5th Avenue in New York city in 1900 and again in 1913.

In the space of just thirteen years transport in the city went from being entirely horse-drawn to nearly entirely driven by motor cars. She concluded that we are about to undergo a similar speedy change in the use of energy and transport.

Eamon Ryan TD, leader of the Green Party, spoke about the need to enhance our rivers and green spaces for the future. He suggested that there should be a focus on improving water quality and wildlife protection in the Ward River Valley Park, and that a cycling 'greenway' should be laid out in the park.

He said: 'Fingal is the home to much of Dublin's agricultural production and there is a great opportunity to build deeper links between producers and local residents, Why can't we allow people to support local businesses by buying directly from them?'

A wide-ranging discussion followed amongst the people attending the debate.

Fingal Independent