At Wednesday nights Down District Council meeting Green Party Cllr Cadogan Enright dismissed a motion on “the carbon footprint” of the Council by Councillor Dermot Curren of the SDLP which he described as vague aspirational targets.
Downpatrick Cllr Cadogan Enright said, “Down District deserves more than vague platitudes and aspirational targets. We need concrete real world actions. This motion is nothing more than ‘motherhood and apple pie’. ”
The motion was extensively discussed and comprehensively redrafted by other councillors present. The redrafted motion put forward by Cllr Enright and Cllr Anne MacAleenan obliged the council to produce a plan for Sustainable Development under three broad headings.
Cllr Enright described the three areas as follows;
Firstly councillors agreed that we would take action on council owned property and achieve best practice in areas like converting methane gas into energy at our Drumnakelly Dump, erecting our own wind turbines to save ratepayers money by supplying the council with electricity or switching from oil to locally grown wood pellets for fuel, as done in Newry and Mourne Council.
Secondly we agreed action in Down District as a whole. We noted that councils in England and in the Republic of Ireland have forced developers to build new homes to reflect the needs of hard pressed homeowners for lower energy bills. We noted that Fingal County Council in the Republic had succeeded in getting 10,500 low energy homes built in its county area. Looking forward, Down District Councils merger with Newry and Mourne will give councillors the opportunity to control the planning process and ensure homes are built for the benefit of their occupants and the environment, rather than the benefit of developers as at present. This is very common in England where over 35% of county councils have adopted these measures known as the “Merton Rule”.
Finally the councillors agreed to make a list of issues that Stormont should action and on which the council has previously passed motions in support. For instance;
I supported a DUP motion last year seeking the extension of the hugely successful plastic bag tax from the Republic of Ireland into N. Ireland. Cllr Jim Wells of the DUP has presented research to the council to back this up.
I have supported Cllr Eamonn Mac Con Midhe of Sinn Fein on his suggestion that high cost traditional light bulbs should be banned in Northern Ireland and replaced with low cost, low energy efficient light bulbs as implemented by the Green Party Minister for the Environment John Gormley in the Republic.
I supported Cllr Eamonn O’Neill of the SDLP calling for the continuation of the re-connect grant scheme for hard pressed home owners wishing to install cheap renewable energy. There are a large number of concrete steps that we in council can take ourselves and can subsequently bring pressure on Stormont for change in other areas,” concluded Cllr Cadogan Enright.