Community & Environmental Campaigners Agree to Support Green Leaf City status for Galway City
In spite of the decision of Galway city council last week to sanction a road through Terryland Forest Park and to allow building construction on a meadow in Merlin Park Woods, local environmental and community campaigners have agreed to work with City Hall on developing a series of eco-initiatives under the banner of its status as the European Green Leaf City for 2017.
According to Brendan Smith of the Terryland Forest Park Alliance, “At the annual plenary meeting this week of the Galway City Community Network which represents over one hundred community and volunteers organisations, there was a deep sense of anger and betrayal expressed by many speakers over last week’s decisions by Galway City Council to ignore their own long standing environmental, social and health polices as contained in previous and current development plans as well as the advice of its own consultants’ report in order to sanction road and building construction in such sensitive green areas as Terryland Forest Park. It was a slap on the faces of the thousands of volunteers who have given their time and energies free of charge since 2000 to create woods, meadows, nature trails and other wildlife habitats. Combined with confirmation at a meeting in City Hall a few days ago that officials have, for what they call budgetary constraints, pulled the plug on the multi-sectoral Terryland steering committee that includes representatives from the HSE, GMIT, NUI Galway and schools, last week was a dark week for the local environmental and community movement. Our vision of creating a network of linked forests and natural heritage areas that would make Galway the envy of the rest of Ireland was dealt a mortal blow from those we considered our partners.
Yet it was unanimously agreed to warmly welcome the long overdue appointment of a coordinator for the Green Leaf City 2017. Sharon Carroll, who will take up her appointment full time on January 1st, is very well respected amongst the city’s community, schools and environmental sectors especially for her work in a previous role as the city's Environmental Education Officer.
For the sake of the health of present and future generations and to enhance biodiversity in our city, we intend to actively collaborate with Sharon on developing an ambitious eco-programme that we hope will include the Outdoor Classroom, the Outdoor Laboratory, neighbourhood organic gardens, nature walking trails, a proper collection facility for hazardous waste, greater public access to and staffing of local authority parks as well as securing significant citizens’ involvement in the management and planning of our urban green spaces.
However we will continue our campaigns to reverse the recent decisions of City Hall to pass death sentences on some of the city’s major woodlands. In the case of Terryland we are considering bringing the issue to the European Commission as we feel that the proposed road construction is in contravention of the terms that the EU funding was granted for this park in the late 1990s."