Update from Wicklow Council Meeting 6th March 2023
A packed and varied Wicklow Council Meeting today, covering issues from the tragic impact of dogs on our sheep and the farmers that care for them, Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase Two and County Wicklow’s Age Friendly Strategy.
With this coming Wednesday marking International Women’s Day across the globe, I was delighted today to formerly welcome Emer O’Gorman, Wicklow County Council’s new Chief Executive and first every female CE in Wicklow to the Chamber. Emer brings wealth of experience and knowledge to the role and I look forward to working with her to shape the County in the coming years.
After formal business of confirming minutes and disposal notice, one such notice which will allow for the use of
land in Kildare to support the upcoming Kaleidoscope Festival which takes place in the stunning Russborough House & Parklands, Blessington, Co. Wicklow on the 30th June, 1st, 2nd & 3rd of July 2023. Further information is available at https://kaleidoscopefestival.ie/info/
Wicklow Cheviot Sheep Owners Association
Pat Dunne, Chairperson and Peter Behan, Vice Chairperson of the Wicklow Cheviot Sheep Owners Association gave a presentation to the members and officials on the issues facing sheep farmers in the County.
They initially outlined the current sheep farming position in the County, namely;
· 155,209 breeding ewes in Wicklow about to lamb this Spring.
· 233,000 lambs born in Wicklow every year.
· The fifth largest country in Ireland in terms of sheep numbers.
· The sheep industry supports a large number of farm families in the county.
· Because of the landscape in Wicklow, many farming livelihoods depend on sheep farming and it underpins many rural communities through marts, local co-ops and veterinary practices.
Pat & Peter then outlined the number of sheep kills in the County over the last year and it was a stark and upsetting situation. The impact on farmers, the animals and the farming community as a whole was very evident. The images of sheep killed by dogs were difficult to see, one can only imagine the impact of farmers and farming families having to deal with this first hand.
There was a lengthy discussion among Councillors on current practices and challenges and what could be done to address this issues which Pat & Peter were eager to point out, is an issues for not just Wicklow but across the whole country. The level of contributions from Councillors from right across the County was a reflection of the seriousness f the issue at hand.
There was a lot of discussion surrounding dog ownership and the need for dogs to be on the lead. Unfortunately the practice of dogs being let off the lead to run free in rural areas is a real problem and is leading to the devastation of sheep kills.
Members agreed to write to the relevant ministers, Minister Charlie McConalogue and Minister Heather Humphreys to ask for a national database for all dogs in the country for microchipping and licensing. In additional to examine current legalisation, in particular what is defined as ‘under control’ which is the current position. In addition members agreed to set up a working group to look at existing and possible new Byelaws that can be brought in place to tackle the issue. Wicklow Cheviot Sheep Owners Association have called for additional Dog Warden resources in particular at weekends to provide for greater enforcement.
Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2
Kaj Christiansen, Development Manager & Deborah Coleman, External Affairs Manager of SSE Renewables provided an update on the Arklow Bank Wind Phase 2.
They provided details of the company, the plans and the project development to date.
Key activities 2023:
· Public Consultation
· Offshore Renewable Energy Support Scheme (ORESS)
· Planning application
· Stakeholder engagement
· Supply Chain Engagement
· Support via Sponsorship & Fisheries Funds
Public Consultation for 2023 will include;
· In-person events: Arklow/Wicklow/Courtown
· Webinar – registration via sserenewables.com/arklowbankphase2
· Virtual consultation room
· PR / Media / Advertising campaigns
· Meetings by request
· Call for feedback
Kaj & Deborah are eager to spread the word on upcoming consultation and wish to engage with as many people as possible. There was again looks of questions from Councillors regarding the plans for the development and the issue of consultation fatigue given the number of different projects that are current at different stages of development on the East Coast from Howth down to Arklow.
If you have specific queries or interest in what is planned for your area please do get in contact with Kaj & Deborah who can answer and of your queries. You can email Deborah at mailto:Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org or attend one of the information events.
County Wicklow Age Friendly Strategy
Clodagh Whelan, Age Friendly Programme Manager gave an over on County Wicklow Age Friendly Strategy which was officially launched by Mary Butler TD, Minster For Mental Health and Older People on the 27th February in Wicklow Council offices.
Clodagh outlined the role and membership of the Older Persons Council in Wicklow as follows;
· Provide the voice of older people to support the Alliance at a strategic level in the delivery of its actions
· Co-design solutions in response to barriers and challenges
· Surface up national policy issues through the Age Friendly Shared Service
Clodagh also provided details of the local structure of the Age Friendly Programme.
Wicklow Age Friendly Strategy 2023- 2027 has 72 Actions which cover a wide range wide of initiatives. If you want to look at these actions in detail please see the attached link www.wicklow.ie/Living/Services/Community/Age-Friendly-Wicklow .
If you would prefer a hard copy please contact Clodagh at email@example.com
The balance of the meeting look at the CE Report which covers all the activities that the Council have been involved in over the last month. This is a large report and a great resource. It covers every single department and what staff are working on. The report is available on the Councils website following the meeting.
In this report I have provided a brief overview of the meeting, as always if you would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.