atest press release from Jennifer Whitmore TD, issued on Tuesday, May 24th 2022…
Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore has called on the government to provide more staff to assist Wicklow County Council in addressing climate change and biodiversity.
Deputy Whitmore was questioning officials from the Department of Environment and the SEAI in the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, discussing the role of local authorities in climate action.
“During my work as Councillor and now as TD, it is evidently clear that local authorities need more staff to enable them to meet our climate action targets. Councils, like Wicklow County Council, will play a crucial role in our capacity to reduce carbon emissions particularly in areas like transport and the housing sector. They will also play an important supporting role for local communities to engage in the transition towards a zero-carbon economy,” says Deputy Whitmore.
“I have regularly engaged with Wicklow County Council on the range of tasks it is set to complete including the Decarbonisation Zone of Arklow, its masterplan as well as the County’s Adaptation and Mitigation Plans including reviews and reports. The biggest challenge is yet to come, when local authorities will be tasked with drafting and implementing a Climate Action Plan as provided for in legislation. This will include a county-wide carbon budget. To draft and implement a large plan like this it will require need biodiversity officers, environmental officers, green infrastructure personnel and many more on hand to develop climate action policy on a county-level.
“To do all this takes a huge team of people and lots of funding to make it happen. The current Climate Action Team in WCC is doing incredible work but with little resources in terms of staff and funding. Not only is it very difficult to receive funding from the SEAI, they don’t fund staff so it’s up to Councils to get extra staff sanctioned by the Department of Local Government.
“I asked the Department of Environment, if they were aware of the staff shortage in Climate Teams at local authority level and, incredibly, the Climate Action Team in WCC has not had funding for a single new hire in two years.
“To follow up on this, I asked that the Department make representations on behalf of Wicklow County Council and local authorities across Ireland who will need to hire staff with specific expertise in these areas,” concludes Whitmore.
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