“That Cork County Council would initiate its commitment to Green Infrastructure outlined in the Cork County Development Plan 2014 by ensuring the critical elements of green infrastructure within Cork County are identified and mapped during the remaining lifetime of the County Development Plan 2014:
- Biodiversity and ecological networks
- Water quality and flood attenuation infrastructure
- Recreational/quality of life infrastructure.”
I wish green infrastructure wasn’t called green infrastructure. It makes it sound like some flowery, esoteric concept that costs a fortune.
It isn’t. In a modern society, with our increasing knowledge, our awareness of the finite nature of the earth’s resources and the impact of our footprint on them, the concept of green infrastructure is no longer a luxury. It is basic.
Green infrastructure is an interconnected network of green spaces which conserve the natural functions of ecosystems. These ecosystems don’t just perform for their own sake: they deliver benefits to humans like purifying water, cleaning the air, giving us space for recreation, mitigating against climate change. Essentially whilst improving environmental conditions and enhancing biodiversity, they improve job opportunities, protect human health and improve the quality of our living spaces. We’re very good at grey infrastructure. We’re very good at driving big roads through green fields, constructing shopping centres on the last remaining pocket of green land in a town centre and expanding towns out into surrounding farmland. In fact, we’re so good at it that our focus becomes all about the funding to do these things that drive our economic indicators higher.
Green infrastructure is based on the principle that protecting and enhancing nature and natural processes, and the many benefits human society gets from nature, are consciously integrated into our planning and development. It is not a constraint on development but a different – and seeing as our society is all about numbers, often cheaper – way of looking at development. It is always worthwhile. Research shows us that reduced access to the natural environment can result in social isolation, obesity and chronic stress. It shows us that human contact with nature is valuable for mental health. Green spaces act as a filter to improve air quality, water quality. And so on.
This concept is so basic that the National Spatial Strategy, the Regional Planning Guidelines and the government’s guidelines for Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas all don’t merely spout the benefits of Green Infrastructure, they require us to plan for it. The European Commission’s Green Infrastructure Strategy aims to create a framework for progress in this area. And Chapter 13 of the Cork County Development Plan 2014 is devoted to talking about how this County Council will plan for green infrastructure.
Objective GI 2-1 of the County Development Plan commits to developing and implementing a Green Infrastructure Strategy for Cork County during the lifetime of the plan which will help to identify, protect, manage and develop Green Infrastructure resources.
Objective GI 3-1 is to require new developments to contribute to the protection, management and enhancement of the existing green infrastructure of the county and the delivery of new green infrastructure, where appropriate, while Objective GI 3-2 is to require significant new developments (multiple residential developments including Part 8 applications) to submit a green infrastructure plan as an integral part of any planning application.
We have no definition of significant or of multiple nor can I recall having yet seen a single green infrastructure plan submitted with any planning application. We are three years into our CDP, we have had a review to see how it is going, the rate of house building is accelerating nationally and we definitely don’t want another legacy of estates isolated without footpaths to the local road network. So I ask your support for putting Objective GI 2-1 of the CDP into action
This motion is on the agenda since 27th March. No response.