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Taking part in Get Involved are Betty Galvin, Danny Forde, Senan O’Reilly, Becky Jenkins and Trevor Sargent. Pic: Jim Campbell

Echo backs future proofing project

– by Anna Hayes

A NEW project aimed at helping the people of Co. Wexford to conserve natural resources and save money is The Echo’s entry in the Get Involved competition, run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The project, entitled ‘Future-proof the Model County’ is hoping to make people aware of how they can both save money and save the earth’s natural resources, with a focus on two areas: forming a practical service to help with installation and maintenance of rainwater harvesting devices and; providing a service to assist householders to make and use good compost.

The project, which is being coordinated by Senan O’Reilly and former Green Party leader and Minister Trevor Sargent, originated when a group of Wexford residents were discussing the ‘transition town’ initiative which began in Kinsale, Co. Cork. That project aimed to make communities more resilient to future shocks caused by climate change, oil dependency, etc. and the group hit on the idea of helping more people to home-compost and harvest rainwater as ways to develop community spirit, conserve natural resources, improve soil health and save money for individual householders.

The first part of the project will be a public meeting at Wexford town library on Tuesday, September 8 where Davie Philip from the Eco-Village in Cloughjordan will outline the importance globally and benefits locally of ‘future proofing Wexford’. Members of Wexford Co. Council’s Environment section and of Wexford Tidy Towns Biodiversity Committee will be invited to offer their own thoughts and advice on the project. From there, teams or ‘paramedic groups’ to tackle both the compost and rainwater sides of the project will be established and the initiative is due to be officially launched on Friday, September 25 at a local venue.

Throughout the course of the project, The Echo will publicise examples of good rainwater harvesting and good composting and use of compost as well as advertising the email query line for anyone interested in getting help with either of the issues. Monthly progress reports will also let the public know how the project is going and to see if targets for increasing composting and harvesting are met. Coordinators of the project Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Sargent said: “Benefits of the project include getting more people talking about and actively involved in conserving natural resources.

For the local environment, the wider use of well-made home compost will help to improve soil health and also encourage more people to become growers.” Rainwater harvesting is also a benefit to gardeners as rainwater is better for plants than tap water. They added: “The long term benefits for the community will include creating a template for similar community based mutual support services including things like energy conservation measures, wildlife habitat work, car pooling, allotment provision or school parents organising a walking bus.” For anyone interested in getting involved in the project, the contact is Senan O’Reilly who is contactable via email at wexlive@gmail. com or on 086 242 7981. Members of the group who developed the project will be in attendance at the public meeting on September 8, more details of which to follow. The coordinators added: “We are hopeful of that a critical mass of people will become involved at the public me eting and through coverage in our local media. All told, we would hope each ‘paramedic’ group would have a rota of about 12 volunteers.”

County council engineer Jonathan Ryan with Nuala McGovern, vice-chairperson, Athboy Tidy Town Committee, and Mary Flood, chairperson (right) at the overgrown Athboy site

Athboy project chosen for community initiative contest

A project in Athboy has been chosen as the Meath entry in ‘Get Involved 2013’, a new nationwide competition run by local newspapers across the country.

The project from Athboy Tidy Town (TT) committee concerns the transformation of a current eyesore on a street corner in the town into a landscaped space with the co-operation of Meath County Council and award-winning landscape architect Jane McCorkell.
‘Get Involved’ is a community initiative developed by the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI) whereby newspapers are supporting voluntary community projects that help to enhance a local area.

The Meath Chronicle chose the Athboy TT project as the most suitable scheme to emerge from the entries submitted from all over the county and will be supporting the project through regular coverage as the work progresses.
Projects need to be completed by August, at which point judging will commence. The national competition will be judged by a panel chaired by the renowned architect and environmentalist, Duncan Stewart.
An awards ceremony will be held on Thursday 12th September at Áras an Uachtaráin where President Michael D Higgins will be on hand to announce the winners.
The Athboy project is located at the site of an old house knocked down by Meath County Council to improve visibility at Lower Bridge Street, Athboy. Hoarding had been erected around the site which has now become unsightly and broken, and the area behind the hoarding has become overgrown and filled with litter.
The area has become very unsightly and represents an ideal project for enhancement by Athboy TT, which has an excellent record with this type of project.

The council has agreed to work with the Athboy TT committee on site clearance, landscape preparation and path-laying and Bloom show garden winner Jane McCorkell from Kilsallaghan has prepared an appropriate design for the space, which will involve planting a lawn, flowerbed with mixed herbaceous flowers and specimen trees and the installation of a seat and an asphalt pathway through the site.

It is further intended that bat and bird boxes will be attached to the old boundary walls of the site. Over 20 Athboy TT members will be involved in the project and they will also be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the area once it is completed.
The plan is to first of all remove the rubble and litter and council to delineate the site to improve visibility for road-users. A new footpath will be laid at the outer borders of site, ivy and brambles will be cut back and stone walls repointed.
An asphalt path is to be laid by council through the site while specimen trees will be be planted, in addition to a central flowerbed with mixed herbaceous flowers, which will be bee butterfly and moth-attracting.
The Athboy TT group has been very active in the town over the last number of years and has been central to a number of propjects which have helped enhance the town, including the Spiral Bed Project which involved developing a small planting scheme at the Frayne and Delvin Roads junction; the Church View project, which created a comprehensive plan for the green area at Church View, and the Cowpark project – in partnership with Athboy Social Needs & Recreational Company – which resulted in the provision of a scouts’ camping area, archery range, wildflower meadow, installaion of sculptures, tree-planting and establishing a 700m river walk.

The derelict site in Athboy set to be transformed.