An environmental lobby group has welcomed the cancellation of a charity balloon release which they say is “lethal” to the environment.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have welcomed the cancellation by the Cork Autism Society which was due to have its annual balloon release next weekend.

The environmental group said balloons released into the environment will burst and the fragments can become “lethal marine debris”, a hazard for sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and seabirds who mistake them for jellyfish or other natural prey.

Marian Courtney, the Sales & Marketing Manager, has written to FIE saying that the balloons, which are tied to participant’s wrist during the walk, “will not be released this year but will instead be taken home by the participants”.

FIE Director Tony Lowes said they were “delighted” by the society’s response.

The environmental group has protested balloon launches before.

The balloon release planned for the January 2013 opening of the Irish EU Presidency was re-arranged at the last minute after FIE’s protest to include a ‘Secure Balloon Release’, and not a ‘general balloon release’.

Lowes stressed that their organisation meant no disrespect for the Cork charity or “the many hard working volunteers who are planning this event. Nor are we seeking to have balloons banned, but rather to join other jurisdictions in having balloons included in the legal definition of litter and making outdoor releases illegal”.

Irish Independent

Catherine Devine

PUBLISHED

06/09/2016 |

 

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/environmental-group-welcomes-cancellation-of-lethal-charity-balloon-release-35025158.html

5 September, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT

CALL FOR CANCELLATION OF CHARITY BALLOON RELEASE

The environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] are calling on the Cork Association for Autism to amend their planned balloon release this Sunday and ‘keep it on a string’. The Association’s annual ‘Blue Balloon and Fun Walk’ is scheduled for Sunday 11th at 11 am at Blackrock, Cork.

 

FIE said the practice of releasing balloons was ‘an act of littering’ that only continued because people were unaware of the consequences. ‘If the public knew how hazardous balloons are to the environment they would never allow it’, FIE Director Tony Lowes said.

 

‘It has been well established since a Canadian marine conference in 1989 that the release of gas filled balloons is an environmental hazard. The fragments can become lethal 'marine debris', a hazard for sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and seabirds who mistake them for jellyfish or other natural prey.’

 

‘All of these species have been reported with balloons in their stomachs. All seven species of marine turtles are near extinction and many turtles of two species in particular, the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle, have been found with balloons in their intestines. The string on balloons can also entangle and trap animals. Not only can entanglement cause death, but added to other plastic fragments, animals can feel full and actually starve to death from not eating. Latex balloons, whilst biodegradable, may still persist in the marine environment for up to four years’, he added.

 

The group has protested balloon launches before. The balloon release planned for the January 2013 opening of the Irish EU Presidency was re-arranged at the last minute after FIE’s protest to include a ‘Secure Balloon Release’, and not a ‘general balloon release.’

 

‘All of the balloons for the ceremony’, Tony Lowes explained, ‘had extra-long string attached. The balloons were then released from chest height and let go to the maximum of the string length for the launch itself. After the EU ceremony, children were able to take the balloons home with them as a memento of the day.’

 

FIE first tried to prevent President Mary McAleese partaking in a memorial balloon release in 2005. At the time Environment Minister Dick Roche refused to prohibit mass balloon releases. In 2009 the prestigious Dublin’s Mount Anville school cancelled a planned balloon release after FIE issued a public call. In July 2012 Birdwatch Ireland and three other wildlife and marine groups issued a call to Ban Balloon Releases.

 

FIE wrote to President Higgins after his election to the Presidency, asking him to ensure that he did not attend ceremonies which included the release of balloons. His office informed them that he ‘cannot intervene in or make representations about matters which come within the remit of the Government.’

 

Mr. Lowes stressed that their organisation meant no disrespect for the Charity or the many hard working volunteers who were planning this event. ‘Nor are we seeking to have balloons banned, but rather to join cities in the United States and many English counties in having balloons included in the legal definition of litter and making outdoor releases illegal’.

 

‘What is key is to ensure that people know of the damage they could unwittingly be causing. Local Authorities could adopt voluntary bans on their own lands as could the Parks and Wildlife Service. This would greatly help to raise awareness – and that’s the key to any change in our behaviour. We don’t believe anyone wants to intentionally cause the needless suffering and death of wildlife or marine animals.’

 

Comment and verification:

Tony Lowes 027 74771 / 087 217 6316

 

Editor’s notes

See video of last year’s Balloon Release

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDe5cuWTKbg

at 2.22

 

UK Marine Conservation Society Pollution Policy and Position Statement, 2014

http://www.mcsuk.org/downloads/pollution/beachwatch/MCS_balloons_and_chinese_lanterns_policy.pdf

 

Birdwatch Ireland (and others) July 2012 call for Ban

http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=TMIWQkz67J0%3D&tabid=1283

 

 

The Implementation Committee for the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context has found that Britain has not met its obligations to discuss the impact of a nuclear accident with​the affected public in other countries, including Ireland. The findings are expected to be confirmed at the next plenary session in Minsk in June 2017.

 

The Irish NGO Friends of the Irish Environment made a complaint to the Implementation Committee over the UK's failure to consult the public in Ireland about the potential trans-boundary implications of the construction and operation of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor.

 

The first new nuclear station proposed to be constructed in the UK since 1995, Hinkley C is a 3.2GW nuclear power plant composed of two reactors. The power plant will generate 7% of UK's electricity if constructed. The UK position is that “the likely impacts determined through a thorough EIA do not extend beyond the county of Somerset and the Severn Estuary”.

 

The UN’s Espoo Convention, named for the Finnish town in which it was signed in 1991, requires governments to provide an opportunity to the public in trans-boundary areas likely to be affected by a project to participate in the relevant Environmental Impact Assessment procedures regarding proposed activities. It must ensure that the opportunity provided to the public of potentially affected Parties is ‘equivalent to that provided to the public of the Party of origin’.

 

FIE’s complaint cited the Irish Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) Report published in May 2013 which acknowledged that in the event of an accident, Irish agriculture could be affected. ‘Food controls and agricultural protective measures would be required if any of these accidents occurred to ensure that food on sale in Ireland was safe to eat. In the case of the most severe accident scenario examined in the study, short-term measures such as sheltering would also be required’, the RPII Report concluded.

 

German Bundestag member Sylvia Kotting-Uhl also complained to the Implementation Committee. In October 2013, the Implementation Committee asked a number of affected countries for their view on whether "the proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C is likely to cause transboundary impact” on their territories.

 

Norway, the Netherlands and Austria expressed views that a major incident could have an effect in those countries. Ireland's response in November 2013 did not answer the question asked by the Committee. It referred to the RPII report but did not mention the transboundary impacts RPII predicted would be experienced in Ireland in the event of a major release of radioactive material.

 

The Committee’s recommendations include a request for ‘the United Kingdom to enter into discussions with possibly affected Parties, including Parties that cannot exclude a significant adverse transboundary impact from the activity at Hinkley Point C, in order to agree on whether notification is useful at the current stage for this proposed activity’.

 

Friends of the Irish Environment calls on the Government

 

1 - to explain why the Department of the Environment’s response in 2013 didn’t reflect the RPII's views in their response to the Espoo Implementation Committee and

2 - to confirm that they will take up the Committee's recommendations to discuss at this stage the value of notifying the Irish public of the environmental impact of the proposed nuclear power plant.

 

The issue is to be raised at the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) spring seminar this Friday 10th June in the Council Chamber, Fingal County Hall, Swords.

ENDS

 

Contact: David Healy 087 6178852

 

EDITORS REFERENCES

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland study

http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/radiation/proposednuclearpowerplantinuk.html

 

2013 Letter seeking Ireland’s views:

http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/attachments/article/17217/Espoo-Hinkley-Point-request-from-Committee.pdf

 

Irish response

http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/frIrelandINFO.12UK_22.11.131.pdf

 

Findings:

 

http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/Hinkley_Espoo_April_finding_2016.pdf

Doon dust up- the Battle of the Dunes looms

 

Locals tell environmental protestors to stay away as Donald visits stunning resort

Protesters planning to descend on Donal Trump’s west of Ireland golf resort when he visits this month have been warned: ‘You are not welcome’

The Green Party say they will stage protest at the visit of the American Presidential hopeful Trump later this month to his Clare resort.

And an Irish environmental group has vowed to take the tycoon through the Irish courts to stop his 2.8 kilometre rock barrier in front of the five-star coastal retreat – even if he is president.

The odds-on Republican Party presidential hopeful caused a stir that week when he tweeted his intention to visit his ‘magnificent resort fronting on the Atlantic Ocean.’

His son Eric and his wife Lara said his father will return to his Irish resort many times as President of the United States.

Local shopkeeper Murt McInerney said yesterday that protestors planning to disrupt Trump’s visit would not be welcome in Doonbeg.

 

Funny

He said: ‘These protesters will not be welcome. They can stay out of this place.

The funny thing about the planning laws is that somebody from Timbuktu can object to a development here.

There are people from all over the country objecting to what goes on here. There was fellow down in Kerry objecting because of some wretched snail when the gold course was developing.

Nobody has ever seen this microscopic snail. It’s a load of nonsense. I think a law should be introduced that nobody outside of a radius of 10 or 20 miles should be allowed to object to a development.’

Trump is one of the divisive presidential candidates in history, but Mr. McInerney said the people living in Doonbeg are not interested in his politics.

‘Generally speaking, American politics is none of our business’, said the Director of Doonbeg Development, which originally dreamed up the golf course.

‘There is no other employer around here that would employ 240 people.’

He said all the locals were treated to Trump-style hospitality when the businessman’s son Eric arrived in May to open the revamped course.

‘Eric and his wife had a wonderful reception for about 300 of us. They spent a huge amount on it’, he said.

It is estimated the Trumps have spent close to €50m, including the purchase price, on the resort.

Murt said the locals are delighted Trump is proposing to spend millions on coastal defences in front of his property, as it prevents many locals from flooding.

 

Concerns

Environmentalists had in the past expressed concerns about the survival of the microscopic whorl snail in the dunes behind the resort, but Tony Lowe, from the Friends of the Irish Environment, said their group has objected to Trump’s coastal protection because of the fears of the dunes disappearing.

‘He is certainly not welcome as far as we are concerned. What he is proposing is completely unacceptable.

We will certainly support the protest.’

He said the conservation objectives published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service make Trump’s coastal barrier illegal.

 

Concerns

He said: ‘It says that there can be no construction anywhere on the dune system. That is the law.’

And he said they will take their fight right through the Irish Courts, even if Donal Trump is in the Oval Office.

‘If Enda Kenny decided to put a swimming pool in his backyard and the neighbours were annoyed, I don’t think the fact that he is Taoiseach counts… planning goes with the land, not the owner.’

He says the decision on whether to bring Trump to the High court will probably occur in five or six months.

‘The feeling is this will go to the Council, to An Bord Pleanala and then probably end up in the High Court. We’ve been before and we are not reluctant to go again’.

 

Lynn Kelleher

Sunday World

 

6 June, 2016

FIE PRESS RELEASE

1 June, 2016

ATT: Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Waterford

 

Commission begins EU Court proceedings over Irish nature designations

Government commitments to end second investigation

 

SUMMARY

As the European Commission begins infringement proceedings against Ireland for failing to complete the designation requirements for its Special Areas of Conservation, it proposes to close another investigation into the protection of the fresh water pearl mussel on the basis of commitments given by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Coillte Teo., the State Forestry Board.

 

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS INITIATED

The European Commission has issued a formal ‘Reasoned Opinion’ to Ireland for failing to adopt the necessary conservation measures required for the country’s Special Areas of Conservation. A reasoned Opinion opens infringement proceedings against a member state and is the basis on which the Commission grounds its case before the European Court of Justice.

 

The proceedings allege that Ireland has failed to complete the national legal protective regime for 400 of the SACs State’s within 6 years of their selection and for failing to set detailed site specific objectives for 300 of the sites. The case was initiated in February 2015 and the Reasoned Opinion issued in April 2016. Ireland has two months to provide a response which will be considered before a decision may be taken to proceed to the European Court of Justice. A ruling against Ireland by the European Court may lead to daily fines if the ecological requirements are not then met.

 

CLOSURE OF INVESTIGATION INTO FRESH WATER PEARL MUSSEL

The information about the case was contained in a 27 May 2016 letter to the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] proposing the closure of an investigation undertaken on the basis of complaints from the organisation from 2012 – 2015 over the protection of the fresh water pearl mussel in Ireland.

 

The examples documented by the NGO included forestry operations by Coillte Teo on the Glaskeen River in County Donegal, Mayo County Council’s repair of a bridge at Delphi on the Bundoragh River, the proposed N59 Maam Cross to Oughterard Road in Connemara, and felling along the river Lickey in Co. Waterford.

 

The Commission letter proposes the closure of the investigations on the basis of commitments made by the Irish authorities and the State Forestry Board, Coillte Teo. in a series of formal letters and meetings, teleconferencing and ‘numerous informal correspondence’.

 

HALT TO 28 COILLTE FORESTRY OPERATIONS

At the outset of the investigation into the operations in Glaskeelan River catchment which was ‘considerably damaged’ by their forestry operations, the Commission’s initial enquiry in 2013 led to Coillte Teo. ordering an immediate halt to 28 ongoing harvesting operations where the fresh water pearl mussel was present.

 

DONEGAL & WATERFORD

The investigation concluded that the use of a river as a roadway for heavy machinery ‘considerably damaged the habitat’ through ‘high levels of silt, mud, and run off to water courses’. An internal audit of compliance and the ongoing Commission investigations resulted in changes to Coillte’s procedures for risk assessment, planning training, and auditing which the Commission understands are now being implemented across Ireland. Coillte expressed regret for incident and reported that ‘disciplinary action was taken against several Coillte employees’.

 

In combination with concerns arising from a report over Coillte felling along the River Lickey in 2014 which found ‘long term and continuing deterioration of habitat quality’, Coillte now has 4 Quality assessors to monitor compliance across its forestry operations and has agreed to engage a hydrologist with an awareness of the habits requirements of the fresh water pearl mussel. Progress in protecting the River Lickey’s population will be monitored on a quarterly basis.

 

MAYO

The County Mayo case resulted in a commitment by the Minister for Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht ‘strengthen its own advisory Service’. A major flood event occurred swamping the working area where the local authority had tried to divert the Bundoragh River to repair the Delphi Bridge in spite of warnings from experts. The protective dam collapsed, releasing a considerable amount of sub-standard sand from the sand bags onto the only site in Ireland where the fresh water pearl mussel had favourable conservation status. As result of the incident, the Department has also agreed to develop a better coordination with An Bord Pleanala over projects they are considering. To prevent further erosion by grazing and trampling of sheep, the river banks are being fenced and other river bank protection measures will be put in place.

 

GALWAY

The proposed section of the N59 from Maam Cross to Oughterard in Connemara if it proceeds will now be subject to strict conditions regarding NPWS approval of Method Statements  a number of Method Statements designed to protect the fresh water pearl mussle ‘and this has resulted in no operations being undertaken so far.

 

CONCLUSION

Tony Lowes of FIE said that ‘The changes brought about by our complaints show the potential for pro-active nature conservation in Ireland. However, a recent case where felling took place in a privately owned Castleforbes Estate in County Longford during the bird nesting season revealed that the ecological survey which would have undoubtedly prevent this was dropped as a condition of the license by the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht for ‘lack of resources’.

 

‘The examples we provided to the Commission show a systemic failure to fund and protect nature conservation in our Special Areas of Conservation. Ireland must make good on these legal requirements and provide sufficient resources to the National Parks and Wildlife Service to complete the designation process and protect these areas - or ultimately face far costlier daily fines as well.’

 

ENDS

 

Contact: Tony Lowes 353 27 74771 /353 87 2176316

 

 

EDITORS NOTES

Letter of 27 May, 2016 to Friends of the Irish Environment

http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/eufwpmclosure.pdf

 

EU PRESS RELEASE

April Infringement Package

Nature: Commission calls for IRELAND to step up nature protection measures

The European Commission requests Ireland to protect habitats and species by introducing an appropriate level of protection for areas designated under the Natura 2000 network. In line with theHabitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC), Member States have had six years to designate protected areas under their national law - technically, turning them from "Sites of Community Interest" (SCIs) into "Special Areas of Conservation" (SACs), and to adopt the required measures for improving the status of habitats and speciespresent on these sites. Following the expiration of the six-year period, Ireland has formally designated only a minor proportion of its SCIs as SACs. Ireland has also not yet established the required conservation objectives and conservation measures for all of the remaining sites. This significant gap in the compliance with the key obligations under the Habitats Directive prevents the sound protection and management of the sites and constitutes a major threat to an appropriate functioning and the coherence of the Natura 2000 network as a whole. Therefore, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion, giving Ireland two months to reply. If Ireland fails to act, the Commission may take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU. This case is part of a horizontal enforcement action against several Member States.

 

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-1452_en.htm