Abbeyleix Tidy Towns welcomes this opportunity to input into the consultation on the Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Laois County (hereafter, ‘DCCAS’). This submission will outline relevant proposals and ideas generated by informal consultation with our members We note that the proposed plan makes strong provision to transform the management of the assets of the Local Authority in particular. We welcome this approach but we would also encourage policies to promote positive climate action beyond the direct sphere of the local authority.
We feel there is great scope to partner with communities to achieve positive climate action and see potential to accommodate this approach under Theme 5 and 6 in particular. Indeed, our view is that working in partnership with a “pioneer community” such as Abbeyleix could develop a model of good practice in this area.
G5 Natural Resources and Cultural Infrastructure
Objective: To provide for enhancement of natural environment to work positively towards climate action.
Objective: To promote effective bio-diversity management and enhance protection of natural habitats and landscapes
We note reference to a tree planting programme and would recommend that support be provided to Abbeyleix Tidy Towns to access Forestry Service funding to develop a Neighbourwood in the County Council owned Balladine Estate site.
Reference is also made to natural borders/ buffer areas. We would like to look at establishment of biodiverse swards on the wide road verges to the north and south approaches to Abbeyleix in particular. Other County Council owned land banks could also be considered. This would deliver pollinator objectives.
Support the development of Fr Breen Park in Abbeyleix as a model for a co-located sporting facility which represents an excellent and intensive use of resources within the town centre location
G6 Community Health and Wellbeing
Objective: To build capacity and resilience within communities
We note that Action 1 refers to initiatives to increase awareness and resilience amongst communities. Action 4 also referrers to initiatives to promote clean local environments by continuing to invest in Tidy Towns, Tree planting and other environmental initiatives throughout the county.
Designate Abbeyleix as the first low carbon small town in Laois (in the same way that Portlaoise is being proposed as the first Low Carbon Town in the country)
Support Abbeyleix to develop as a Sustainable Energy Community and also to deliver recommendations set out under the Energy Master plan (in preparation). Other communities and tidy towns groups should also be supported to engage in the SEC programme.
Select Abbeyleix as a pilot community for the implementation of the proposed smart metering programme for Laois. Smart meters will complement the recommendations of our energy masterplan and will enable the move to a low-carbon electricity network, the development of smart grids, and support the electrification of heat and transport, local renewable generation and microgeneration.
Implement the Dutch model whereby public and community buildings (in our case Scoil Mhuire / South School, Gards Station, Fire Station, Fr Breen Park) with large roof spaces are utilised for solar panels connected to EV charging points / battery packs. These would serve as high profile examples of good practice. Implementation of a system like this in conjunction with a smart grid/ metering system would mean that energy in cars can be supplied back to dwellings, ensuring that energy is always available.
Support Abbeyleix community to implement a retrofit programme for residential, commercial and community buildings in the town. Abbeyleix has track record in this area having recently participated in a Laois County Council led Better Energy Community (BEC) application for LED lighting upgrade to Abbeyleix Tennis Courts.
Continue to support the schools in Abbeyleix to engage in the green schools programme and ensure provision of resources to support same.
Provide additional electric car charging points to facilitate the move to EVs
In order to facilitate a move from car to bicycles, extend the protected cycle corridor on the N77 (as is currently in place between Durrow and Abbeyleix) northwards to Portlaoise and southwards to Cullohill and beyond.
Implement water harvesting in the fire station in Abbeyleix as per recent good practice project in Dublin Fire Service.
Support water conservation projects in the town such as the innovative "water ram" project which was rolled out by Michael Moloney (engineer Laois Co Co) in partnership with Abbeyleix Tidy Towns.
Assess the feasibility of developing a greenway between Abbeyleix and Portlaoise and also southwards to Attanagh/Durrow