“A HAPPY MEDIUM” needs to be found between letting grass grow in public spaces and keeping these areas accessible for children to play in, a Clarecastle representative has said.

Recruitment is underway for the position of a Biodiversity Officer within Clare County Council after the local authority successfully applied to the Heritage Council for funding. “It is hoped that the position will be filled in the coming months,” acting senior planner Helen Quinn outlined.

Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) requested that the initial priority for the incoming officer be the creation of “a community led biodiversity plan, that is realistically implementable and non-labour intensive for voluntary groups” such as Tidy Towns and residents organisations.

Ms Quinn explained, “The Biodiversity Officer will have a cross-cutting role in the local authority and while positioned within the Forward Planning section of the Planning Department, the resource will have an impact across every functional area of the Local Authority. A key output in 2023 will be the development of a Clare County Biodiversity Plan 2023-2029 which it is hoped will be completed by year end and this together will the delivery of projects funded under the National Biodiversity Action Plan will form priority work packages for the new resource on entering the Local Authority”.

Clare’s Biodiversity Officer is expected to have a close working relationship with community groups to identify their requirements, to assist them in developing plans and strategies together with assisting individuals and groups in applying for funding opportunities and to deliver on projects across the county on behalf of the Local Authority.

Filling the post “in the not too distant future” was welcome news, Cllr Murphy said. “I’m all for biodiversity but it has to be for community groups and work for them, we’ve been told to let the grass grow long, we’ve had No Mow May, we are letting pollinators grow and it is beautiful but it is restricting children from playing hurling, football and the likes, it is restrictive in public green areas but a happy medium needs to be found, funding has to be there to take it away when it is cut”.

He added, “Green areas need to be amenities, young children are playing video games and on phones for long enough”.

Support was voiced by Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF). “I’ve been speaking to beekeepers who are afraid our bees are being decimated, they’re afraid it is lowering the amount of bees,” she told the April meeting of the County Council.

Meanwhile at the April meeting of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Murphy asked that the grass cutting of Council managed public green areas commence as soon as possible with additional financial resources included in future budgetary processes.

Grass cutting in the Ennis MD was due to commence on April 3rd, senior executive officer Leonore O’Neill stated. “Ennis MD will seek an allocation of additional financial resources for grass cutting as part of the Council’s budgetary process”.

Sourcing more funding was needed within communities, Clarecastle native Murphy maintained. “There has been extreme grass growth over the winter. Public green areas need to be cut, they are there to serve our children and skills hopefully as Clare hurlers or footballers or the club they will represent in whatever sport. We need to make these plans more people centric”.

Reviewing No Mow May was worthwhile, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) believed, he claimed it “led to dereliction in certain estates”. Cllr Mary Howard (FG) commented, “It is balance. When you consider young lads going out to the green area and they want to play hurling or football but they can’t do it because the grass is too long then a certain need of balance is needed”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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