Cork City Council plans to upgrade the Blackrock – Passage West greenway

Cork City Council is in the process of upgrading the greenway from Páirc Uí Chaoimh all the way to the City boundary at the Forge, just west of the Roberts Bridge car park. That’s obviously massively relevant to us here in Passage West/Monkstown!

They’re doing this in two Phases. Phase 1 is from Páirc Uí Chaoimh to the N40 (excluding the footbridge). It includes widening of the existing surfaced area from 3m to 5m, the installation of new public lighting and CCTV, highlighting the heritage of the railway (especially at Blackrock Station) and creating a biodiversity corridor along the railway line. Construction of Phase 1 has started and if you would like to see the previously approved Part 8 plans, they are at:

Phase 2 is from the footbridge over the N40 to #PassageWest, although most of the focus will be from this side of the N40 to Hop Island. The project will be looking at widening the paved surface, providing improved parking areas (especially at Harty’s Quay) and installing lighting. Surveying is starting this week. This will inform the preliminary consultation phase, likely to be in mid-December. The City Council is especially anxious to look at possible alternative routes/improvements to the current shared on-road path from the Rochestown railway station to Hop Island. If you are a greenway user and/or if you would like to to make contact about your experiences and any improvements you might like to see, please share your thoughts at this preliminary phase. It will help to inform the route options analysis as it progresses. You can email the City Council to You can also obviously make contact with me if that’s easier!

My motion to full Council, 09-11-2020 re. reducing speed limits in town and village centres to 30 kph

“That Cork County Council would introduce a special speed limit of 30 km/h in all town and village centres. This would support safer movement of pedestrians and cyclists, support local businesses by increasing shopper dwell time and support a more pleasant and healthier town centre environment.”

Due to Covid 19 restrictions, lifestyles have changed.  There are more people working from home, travelling less and shopping in their local towns.  There are more people taking open air exercise in their local areas.  Public transport can accommodate fewer people so there are more people cycling, more people walking and, as happens at the moment, more people stepping out into the carriageway to socially distance from other pedestrians.  As coffee shops and traditional indoor meeting places can accommodate fewer, there are more people socialising outdoors in our town centres: using seating on footpaths and in town squares.  During lockdown earlier this year, we got a very strong sense of how reclaiming streets for people can be so very liberating.  Children cycled in the carriageways.  People chose walking routes that they wouldn’t normally choose.  When lockdown lifted and traffic returned, many reported a very strong sense of loss that their freedom in the streets had once again been taken away.  

Towns centres are for people.  Places where people shop and socialise.  Places where people meet friends.  Places where people run businesses to bring in a family income.  Cars don’t shop.  Cars don’t socialise.  Yet most of our town centres are dominated, not by people but by cars.  Town centre movements are generally dictated not by people, but by cars.  People must co-exist with cars, particularly if a busy regional road runs through a town centre as is the case with so many towns in Ireland but the balance of influence in a town centre starts to become more balanced when vehicles travel at lower speeds.

At the moment our default speed limit in built up areas is generally 50 km/h.  Setting the speed limit at a maximum of 30 km/h has a multiplicity of benefits, all of which are massively helpful to people and town centres.  There are fewer accidents when the speed limit is lower.  Accidents that happen are less severe.  In Belgium, for example, they have found that 45% of pedestrians hit by a car travelling at 50 km/h die while only 5% die from being hit by a car moving at 30 km/h.  A reduced speed limit especially benefits the safety of the younger, the older and the more vulnerable road user including cyclists.  In Edinburgh when they introduced 20 km/h, they found that the proportion of older primary school children allowed to play unsupervised on the street outside their homes rose from 31% to 66%.  In Bristol, they found that walking and cycling rates increased by almost 25%.

A 30 km/h urban speed limit makes streets quieter almost immediately.  Generally it reduces noise by 3 dB – that’s approx. the equivalent to halving traffic noise.  How many of you have held outdoor meetings in the past few months and found yourself shouting to be heard over traffic noise?  Or simply staying quiet whilst a truck roars past?  With a reduced speed limit, on street conversations have the chance to become comfortable.

And then there is the improved air quality that comes with a lower urban speed limit: estimated at approximately a 15% reduction in CO2, a 40% reduction in NOx and a 45% reduction in CO.  So it becomes healthier to linger in our town centres, easier to live in our town centres and more pleasant to do business in our town centres.

For all these reasons, one of the conclusions of the 80 ministers and 1700 experts from 140 countries at this year’s international UN summit on Road Safety was that a speed limit of 30 km/h should become “the new normal” in all places where cars, cyclists, and pedestrians cross each other.  And that is why in the Netherlands, the new standard speed limit will be 30 km/h in all built-up areas.  A similar decision has been taken in Spain.  Lower speed limits are the norm in most city centres in Italy, in Finland, in Norway.  They will be in throughout Belgium in 2021.  30 km/h has been the speed limit in Dublin City Centre and a number of large residential surburbs since 2010.  Spurred on by the impact of Covid, Dublin City Council now proposes to reduce the default speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h throughout its entire administrative area.  Galway City Council is proposing to reduce the speed limit in Galway City Centre to 30 km/h.  And that decision was already taken in 2019 by Kerry County Council for Tralee and Killarney.

Cork County Council’s Project ACT has been about rebuilding the economy and community.  A speed limit reduction to 30 km/h in our town and village centres is the perfect partner to Project ACT.  It is a massive opportunity to make our towns nicer to live, work and linger in at minimal cost to the Council and with really positive outcomes for people and businesses alike.

Cork County Council’s Project ACT has been about rebuilding the economy and community.  A speed limit reduction to 30 km/h in our town and village centres is the perfect partner to Project ACT.  It is a massive opportunity to make our towns nicer to live, work and linger in at minimal cost to the Council and with really positive outcomes for people and businesses alike.

You can read the Executive’s response to the motion at this link:

Executive response:

My submission to the Novartis planning application

Novartis #Ringaskiddy operates two incinerators on site. One is a liquid vapour incinerator and the other is a solid waste incinerator. Both were installed to dispose of manufacturing waste generated on site. Heat recovered from the incinerators is used in the manufacturing process. But Novartis has reduced processing over the past couple of years and plans to reduce it yet further. As a result, there isn’t enough on-site waste being generated to power the incinerators and they have had to burn fossil fuels to generate the necessary heat to continue processing.

Novartis has recently lodged a planning application with Cork County Council seeking permission to accept liquid and solid hazardous wastes from other manufacturing sites around the country to burn in their on-site incinerators. The application says that this would supplement the waste lost by the reduced manufacturing, would allow a move away from the burning of virgin fossil fuel and would reduce hazardous waste currently exported from Ireland for treatment/disposal. It says the proposed wastes would be of a type similar to what is (or was) already on site and would therefore be suitable for burning in their incinerators. It also says that this move would help them sustain the Ringaskiddy operation.

I put considerable work into preparing a submission to this planning application. At face value, the logic of optimising existing under-used infrastructure makes perfect sense. However having been part of the 20-year campaign to keep merchant incineration out of Cork Harbour, I felt it was necessary that there would be crystal clear understanding of the proposed Novartis operation. You can read my submission at this link: