Moves to stamp out dereliction and improve Cork's air quality

The appointment of a special official to oversee a drive against dereliction in county Cork is being considered by the council
Moves to stamp out dereliction and improve Cork's air quality

There are air-quality dangers for children outside schools, where traffic congestion is a major problem.

The appointment of a special official to oversee a drive against dereliction in Co Cork is being considered by the county council, as is a request to provide air-monitoring systems outside some schools.

These requests came as a result of the fallout from the local authority's recent annual budget meeting.

Council chief executive, Tim Lucey, said that special funding was to be directed to sprucing up towns, with an added drive to stamp out dereliction, which is becoming a widespread scourge.

Several councillors, including Fianna Fáil's Seamus McGrath, Labour's James Kennedy, and Independent Marcia D'Alton proposed the appointment of an official with the sole duty of overseeing moves to stamp out dereliction.

Mr Kennedy pointed out that in his hometown of Mallow a number of properties had been declared derelict in recent years. Once a property is added to the derelict sites register, the council is entitled to levy an annual fine on owners who don't bring the properties up to an acceptable standard. However, he said that in many cases the council didn't recoup the fine. Ms D'Alton said there were similar issues in the Carrigaline area.

We have very limited air-quality monitoring in the county

Mr Lucey said there was "some merit" in appointing a person with overall responsibility for tackling the issue. Mayor of County Cork, Independent councillor, Mary Linehan-Foley, also backed the move.

Mr Lucey said he would also look at requests from Green Party councillor Liam Quaide, seconded by Fianna Fáil councillor Gillian Coughlan, for the council to install air-monitoring stations outside some schools.

Mr Quaide said that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 1,500 people die prematurely each year due to air pollution and people with pre-existing respiratory conditions are especially vulnerable.

John Sodeau, of University College Cork, has highlighted the particular dangers to children outside schools, where traffic congestion is a major problem.

"Notwithstanding the gravity of this problem, we have very limited air-quality monitoring in the county," Mr Quaide said. "I'm proposing that we set aside at least €20,000 from our Climate Action Fund for a pilot scheme of air-quality monitoring outside schools, so we can move towards a proper, evidence-based assessment of this serious public health issue."

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