Now that we know Ireland’s 2030 emissions targets, what will our 2025 targets be?

Summary: to stay within our carbon budgets, we may need to reduce electricity emissions by as much as 16% a year, transport emissions by 9% a year, and agriculture emissions by 5% a year between 2022 and 2025 to stay within our first carbon budget. There are quite a few caveats with this data, primarily relating to LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry) emissions, detailed at the end of the post, and it is possible I have underestimated the first carbon budget by 6.5 Mt and the second carbon budget by 9.3 Mt, due to the changes in the baseline for LULUCF emissions. However I think it’s important to discuss possible emissions trajectories as early as possible in the carbon budget period if we are to be successful in staying within that budget.

On Thursday 28th July, the government announced sectoral emissions targets for 2030. Essentially these are the emissions each sector will need to emit in 2030 if we are to stay within the two carbon budgets to 2030 adopted by the Oireachtas.

Although the 2025 targets (end of the first carbon budget period) and the actual sectoral emissions ceilings were not announced last week, enough information was provided to enable a prediction of what the 2025 targets will be and how much we will need to reduce emissions in each sector each year.

Here’s the summary table for the period of the first carbon budget 2021-2025 (which we’re already in the middle of)

2025 targets

Sector 2021 2025 target % reduction 2022-5 (4 yrs) Annual % reduction 22-25 (4 yrs)
Electricity 10.27 5.3 48% 16%
Transport 10.91 7.5 31% 9%
Non res bldgs 1.48 1.2 21% 6%
Res bldgs 7.04 5.0 29% 9%
Industry 7.05 5.0 30% 9%
Agri 23.10 19.1 17% 5%
Other 1.67 1.2 26% 8%
LULUCF* 7.77 4.4 43% 14%
Other savings
Total 69.29 48.7 30% 9%

And here’s the second carbon budget period 2026-2030.

2030 targets

Sector 2025 Mt CO2e 2030 target % reduction 2025-30 (5 yrs) Annual % reduction 2026-30 (5yrs)
Electricity 5.3 3 44% 12%
Transport 7.5 6 20% 5%
Non res bldgs 1.2 1 15% 3%
Res bldgs 5.0 4 19% 4%
Industry 5.0 4 19% 4%
Agri 19.1 17.24 10% 2%
Other 1.2 1 19% 4%
LULUCF* 4.4 4.0 10% 2%
Other savings -5.7 18%
Total 48.7 31.54 29% 7%

And here are two larger tables showing actual emissions values for each year, and the totals for each carbon budget

First carbon budget 2021-2025

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 Sectoral emissions ceiling % share of carbon budget
Electricity 10.27 9.0 7.8 6.6 5.3 39.0 13%
Transport 10.91 10.1 9.2 8.4 7.5 46.1 16%
Non res bldgs 1.48 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.2 6.6 2%
Res bldgs 7.04 6.5 6.0 5.5 5.0 30.0 10%
Industry 7.05 6.5 6.0 5.5 5.0 30.0 10%
Agri 23.10 22.1 21.1 20.1 19.1 105.5 36%
Other 1.67 1.6 1.4 1.3 1.2 7.2 2%
LULUCF* 7.77 6.9 6.1 5.3 4.4 30.5 10%
Other savings 0.0 0%
Total 69.29 64.1 59.0 53.9 48.7 295.0

Second carbon budget 2026-2030

2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 Sectoral emissions ceiling % share of carbon budget
Electricity 4.9 4.4 3.9 3.5 3.0 19.7 10%
Transport 7.2 6.9 6.6 6.3 6.0 33.1 17%
Non res bldgs 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.0 5.3 3%
Res bldgs 4.8 4.6 4.4 4.2 4.0 21.9 11%
Industry 4.8 4.6 4.4 4.2 4.0 21.9 11%
Agri 18.7 18.4 18.0 17.6 17.2 89.9 45%
Other 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.0 5.5 3%
LULUCF* 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.1 4.0 20.9 10%
Other savings -1.7 -2.6 -3.6 -4.6 -5.7 -18.2 -9%
Total 45.3 42.7 40.0 37.4 34.5 200.0

I don’t want to provide too much commentary and rather focus on providing data here but in case it isn’t obvious, the reason why the percentage annual reductions need to be higher in the first carbon budget period is because we’ve already had (provisional) results from the first year in the budget, these results showed emissions in most sectors going up over the previous year, so we need to make higher reductions in four years to make up the average needed over the five year budget.

How these values were extrapolated

1. LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry)

The government announcement said that “Finalising the Sectoral Emissions Ceiling for the Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector has been deferred for 18 months to allow for the completion of the Land-Use Strategy” however the announcement provided for the 2030 targets for all other sectors plus an unallocated 5.7 Mt of savings, so a simple subtraction against 34.5 Mt (representing a 51% reduction over 2018) total emissions reveals a total of 4.0 Mt remaining for LULUCF in 2030. It should be noted that the starting figure for LULUCF in 2018 is 6.8 Mt under AR5 according to the EPA, 2 tonnes more than the 4.8 Mt net LULUCF used in the climate change advisory council carbon budgets document (which was also applied using AR5 multipliers, it is not clear where the differences arise).

2. Straight line reductions from 2021 to 2030

The first pass involved a straight line reduction in each sector to 2030, reducing by the same amount every year, and the unallocated savings also increasing in a straight line between 2026 and 2030.

3. Application of the first carbon budget

Adding up the total emissions from each sector for the first carbon budget 2021-25, showed that the straight line approach was resulting in total emissions of 312.9 Mt, nearly 18 Mt over our first carbon budget amount of 295 Mt. To stay within carbon budget, the 2025 targets were revised down proportionally and then a straight line reduction was made between 2021 and 2025. The 2025 targets were reduced until the total emissions 2021-5 were 295 Mt, the total allowable carbon budget.

4. Application of the second carbon budget

Straight line reductions between the new 2025 targets and 2030 showed that we were now slightly under budget for the second carbon budget, at 197.8 Mt instead of 200 Mt. To provide a rough reduction I just reduced the unallocated savings from 2026 to 2029. This could have been smoothed out better.

5. Caveats

These figures are a prediction. The shape of emissions reductions within each carbon budget period could be different to what is presented. Also it may well be that different sectors perform differently between carbon budgets: for example electricity might proportionally reduce more over the first budget, and transport over the second, or vice versa. Some sectors will experience a rise in emissions before a fall.

LULUCF is the greatest source of uncertainty, given the significant change in the 2018 baseline between the carbon budgets technical document and the latest EPA inventories. It should be noted that the carbon budgets technical report gave the first carbon budget total excluding LULUCF as 271 Mt, my figures give a total of 264.5 Mt for the same period, a difference of 6.5 Mt. For the second carbon budget my figures excluding LULUCF give 197.3 Mt, the carbon budgets a figure of 188 Mt, a difference of 9.3 Mt.

I may have well made some arithmetic or transcription errors, feedback welcome. All figures are taken from either the government’s statement on 28th July or the EPA’s provisional 2021 emissions figures: in other words all numbers and assumptions are from public data. Inconsistencies in number precision are because I took figures from the government publication first, then backfilled missing data from the EPA national inventories. All numbers are on an AR5 basis. Full LULUCF has been included. I’m happy to email the spreadsheet to anyone who wants it.

Submission on Safe Routes to School Section 38 scheme in Dooradoyle

Link to scheme details

I’d like to broadly welcome the proposal to calm traffic and provide a safer route to school for the pupils of St. Paul’s and St. Gabriel’s.

One item that may want to be considered is footpath width – it appears from the drawings that the footpath narrows to 1.6m in places. The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) notes that 1.8m is the absolute minimum for two wheelchairs to pass each other. Given the proximity of St. Gabriel’s it’d be great to have a small extension to the footpath width.

It appears that road width (excluding provision for active travel modes) has been kept to a 5.5m minimum. DMURS notes that the range for a standard carriageway width on Local streets is in the range of 5 to 5.5m. If the road carriageway width was reduced further, it would provide further width to facilitate active modes, and perhaps a different design would be possible.

I can’t help but think that a combined shared path would be better for all active modes but I think this proposal is better than leaving the street as it is.

Finally, I note one of the submissions stated that “It is not too late to put the interests and wishes of the residents first. Those who pay taxes, vote and live here 24/7/365.” I would like to respectfully disagree with that statement, I believe that providing infrastructure that would help children travel to primary school independently is the mark of a generous and civilised society, and reallocating road space to active modes of travel is an appropriate way of achieving this. Our children may not pay any taxes but we as adults have a duty to cherish and protect them so that they can lead healthy and fulfilled lives.

Submission on Fr Russell Road Cycle Scheme Phase 1

Intention of the scheme

Given the fact that the current carriageway width of Fr. Russell Rd is 7.5m and the scheme proposes to reallocate some of this road space away from the private car, I would like to express general support for this scheme, however I believe some aspects could be improved.

Carriageway widths

From the Part 8 planning report:

“DMURS includes guidance on carriageway widths and recommends that designers should minimise the width of the carriageway…Low to moderate speeds should be encouraged on the roadway with the recommended width in DMURS being 6 – 6.5m”

DMURS does state that the preferred carriageway width on Arterial and Link streets are 3.0m and 3.25m. However given the limited room for footpaths and cycle lanes on Fr. Russell Rd. I believe that consideration should be given to narrowing the carriageway width to 2.75m, which would give more room for active travel modes. A roadway width of 5.5m is still within DMURS guidelines for an Arterial or Link street. This would allow space to widen the cycle lanes beyond 1.5m which is very narrow.

diagram from DMURS showing the maximum carriageway width of 5.5m to 6.5m for Arterial and Link streets

Consideration of a bi-directional cycle lane and other design aspects of a similar active travel scheme in Dun Laoghaire.

road diagram showing a proposed 2-way cycle track in Dun Laoghaire

Fr. Russell Rd is not too dissimilar to the R112 Taney Rd between Stillorgan and Dundrum in the Dun Laoghaire County Council area. Coincidentally this road is also subject to a proposed active travel route: , and it may be useful to consider some aspects of this scheme, in particular:

  1. A 3m bidirectional which was considered better than 2 x 1.5m lanes
  2. Continuous cycle lanes and footpaths over side junctions, with set back used so that cars cross the cycle lane and footpath at a more perpendicular angle
  3. Bus stops inline with the road carriageway
  4. Unsignalised pedestrian crossing points across the cycle lane at bus stops

Submission on the revised draft of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy

The proposed strategy is not consistent with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.

A reduction in emissions of 35% over 2018 levels by 2030 proposed in the Strategy is not consistent with the national climate objective, and when taken with 2030 targets from other draft plans published by the Authority in 2022 (Greater Dublin Area: -37.5%; Waterford -26%) raises questions of how the Authority is performing its functions consistent with the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.

“(1) A relevant body shall, in so far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with—
(a) the most recent approved climate action plan,
(b) the most recent approved national long term climate action strategy,
(c) the most recent approved national adaptation framework and approved sectoral adaptation plans,
(d) the furtherance of the national climate objective, and
(e) the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State.”.
– Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021

The proposed strategy is not consistent with the National Planning Framework

map of the NTA's proposed doughnut settlement pattern for Limerick

The Modelling Report notes that “The NTA, in association with Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) and Clare County Council (CCC) prepared a Planning Datasheet for the 2040 Land-use Scenario for the application within the LSMA Transport Strategy. This Planning Datasheet has been used as the baseline land-use scenario for all modelling of the strategy options and preferred strategy.”. This planning data sheet assigns the majority of population growth in a ‘doughnut’ arrangement on greenfield sites at the periphery of the city. This is in direct contravention of the policy outlined in the National Planning Framework where 50% of growth in regional cities will be developed within their existing built-up footprints. Furthermore, concrete plans being progressed by state agencies (e.g. the Land Development Agency’s plan to deliver over housing for 6,000 new residents on the lands surrounding Colbert Station) have been ignored in the proposed Planning Datasheet.

National Policy Objective 3b
Deliver at least half (50%) of all new homes that are targeted in the five Cities and suburbs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, within their existing built-up footprints
– National Planning Framework

The proposed strategy is not consistent with the National Sustainable Mobility Policy

The National Sustainable Mobility Policy sets out a target of a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil fuelled cars by 2030. The Strategy proposes an increase in road capacity through the fact that it “commits to delivering the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Scheme and the N69/M21 Foynes to Limerick Road” as well as proposed roads to open up development lands in the suburbs. The Strategy fails to address any induced demand that will be caused by these projects in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area. Outside of the city centre area, the Strategy fails to identify any measures that could reduce road capacity that would result in traffic evaporation.

Targets
To deliver at least 500,000 additional daily active travel and public transport journeys and a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil fuelled cars by 2030 in line with metrics for transport set out in the Climate Action Plan 2021

National Sustainable Mobility Policy

The proposed strategy is not consistent with the Authority’s own guidance on bus network design

The Authority published an excellent consultation as part of its work on the Cork BusConnects project which outlined two fundamental issues relating to bus network design: the tension between coverage and ridership; and the importance of interchange in providing a coherent public transport network that can deliver modal shift. Unfortunately the proposed bus network for Limerick consists of a series of meandering routes optimised for coverage with few interchange possibilities. Exacerbating this is a proposed traffic arrangement for the city centre which insists on directing buses through O’Connell St, away from the bus and rail station and preventing effective interchange between services.

A well-connected network is key to high patronage. Interchange must be easy and reliable so that people can reach many destinations in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable cost.
Bus Network Redesign Volume I: Choices Report – BusConnects Cork

Submission on Draft Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement Plan

I live in Limerick City but I stay in Killaloe a number of times a month.

Killaloe and Ballina are not pleasant places to walk and cycle. There seems to be a lot of SUVs in the town and a lot of parking on footpaths.

The construction of the new bridge and bypass of Killaloe offers a really good opportunity to transform both Ballina and Killaloe for the better. A great aim would be to make it possible for people of all ages to independently travel between and within Killaloe and Ballina.

The old bridge should definitely be closed to motor traffic after the new bridge opens. To have cars still on it at any time of day would represent a significant failure.

Serious consideration should also be made to close the current R463 in Killaloe between the old bridge and the link road from New St to where the public toilet block is by the canal – it was built itself as a bypass and it should be converted to pedestrian and cycle use after the new bypass is completed.

After the bypass is built, streets in Killaloe and Ballina need to be transformed. Most streets, especially on the Killaloe side, should be made one-way to make room for segregated cycle tracks at least 2m wide to allow people of all ages to cycle safely.

Main Street should have all parking removed and the only traffic should be deliveries before 10am. The current situation where cars mount the footpath as they drive down Main Street is unacceptable.

In the context of the climate crisis and the need to make Killaloe and Ballina a great place to live and to visit whether or not you own a car, I urge you to take the opportunity to direct all traffic on to the new bypass, retaining access for cars but reorienting the roads and streets of Killaloe and Ballina towards people.

Town is dirty, let’s do thirty

Submission on Limerick City and County Council Road Traffic (30 kilometres per hour Special Speed Limit) Bye-Laws 2021

We’ve spent a lot of time and money over the last few decades in Limerick, building bypasses:

Map of bypasses built in Limerick
Bypasses completed in Limerick in recent decades. Satellite imagery from Google.

Limerick is on a crossroads between, Cork, Galway, Kerry and Dublin. We built a lot of bypasses to facilitate this interurban traffic that had no real business passing our doors. But, despite promises of a future city that would be focused on people (just one more bypass!), none of our streets ever changed, and the interurban traffic was replaced with intraurban traffic.

If we want a better Limerick, a more prosperous Limerick, a more inclusive Limerick, one place we can start is our streets. The current proposal is a fairly modest expansion of the 30km/h zone into a few more housing estates in Limerick City, most of which are on the northside. This is welcome, but it is a small change. We are not proposing to expand the 30km/h area in our city centre, and the majority of the city centre, where we were promised that pedestrians would come first, is still a 50km/h zone. The towns and villages of County Limerick are similarly prioritised for motor traffic.

Map showing Limerick 30km/h zones
Limerick City Centre, proposed 30 km/h zones are in blue

I would like to suggest a different approach, that we make all built up areas of Limerick City, and our towns and villages in Limerick County, a 30km/h limit, with certain exceptions, for reasons of safety, noise pollution, air pollution and climate.

Safety

The Road Safety Authority says that cutting speed from 50km/h to 30km/h will change the probability of a person in a car killing a person walking from 50% to 10%.

The main reason for this dramatic difference in the probability of fatalities is that the kinetic energy of the car is proportional to the square of the velocity: ½mv2. What’s also worth mentioning in passing is that the other variable in the equation, the mass of the vehicle, has also changed, the best selling car in Ireland last month was the Hyundai Tucson which has a real world weight of 1.8t, in contrast to the slightly under 1.0t of the Toyota Corollas who used to drive the city’s streets back in the 1990s. We need a reduction in speed limit to compensate for the motor industry’s tendency to build much heavier cars.

We need to cut the speed limit in all urban areas to save lives. The headlines below all refer to different cases of pedestrians being killed by people driving cars in Limerick.

Noise pollution

Limerick is a noisy city, and it is affecting our health. The European NGO Transport and Environment says that reducing the urban speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h reduces noise by 3 decibels, or approximately halving the background noise, allowing more of us to leave our windows open, or to converse comfortably on our streets.

noise-map-of-limerick
Limerick City Noise Action Plan

Air pollution

We are exceeding the recommended level of particulates. Even during lockdown in April, we were exceeding WHO-recommended levels of particulates in our city centre.

Air Quality Report for Limerick, April 2020

Reducing the speed limit would particularly help reduce NOx levels from traffic.

Climate

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 mandates that the next two carbon budgets, covering the period to 2030, must represent a 51% reduction in emissions over 2018 levels and also mandates that a public body (which includes Limerick City and County Council) must, in so far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with the national climate objective (net zero by 2050) and the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State

The planet is literally burning and we need to do everything we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of which in Ireland comes from transport. We need to encourage people to walk, cycle, or take public transport in urban areas. Reducing the urban speed limit will make driving less attractive.

Exceptions

Once the 30km/h default urban speed limit is established in Limerick, we can then look at very limited exceptions, perhaps on one or two of the many bypasses that have been built in the city, where the limit could be increased back to 50km/h. Critically this should only take place where there is a comprehensive safety audit and the provision of infrastructure to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are physically segregated from traffic travelling at 50km/h, including at junctions.

Vehicle ownership and per capita kms driven by Irish county

Which counties in Ireland drive the most and least? What are the car ownership rates in each county? Ranking by kms driven per capita. Private cars only. Vehicle and km data from the CSO Transport Omnibus 2019. Population data from the earlier 2016 census. Link to a CSV file with the data.

# County of owner Private Vehicles km (million) Pop Cars/ person km/ person
1 Roscommon 33,755 668 64,544 0.523 10,350
2 Tipperary  81,247 1,497 159,553 0.509 9,382
3 Wexford 77,634 1,379 149,722 0.519 9,210
4 Carlow 29,216 524 56,932 0.513 9,204
5 Leitrim 14,931 286 32,044 0.466 8,925
6 Clare 58,669 1,052 118,817 0.494 8,854
7 Westmeath 42,201 780 88,770 0.475 8,787
8 Mayo 62,069 1,121 130,507 0.476 8,590
9 Kerry 73,292 1,259 147,707 0.496 8,524
10 Waterford 58,966 978 116,176 0.508 8,418
11 Offaly 35,304 656 77,961 0.453 8,414
12 Meath 91,552 1,612 195,044 0.469 8,265
13 Longford 17,731 336 40,873 0.434 8,221
14 Kilkenny 45,473 815 99,232 0.458 8,213
15 Cavan 32,907 617 76,176 0.432 8,100
16 Monaghan 26,560 493 61,386 0.433 8,031
17 Wicklow 70,299 1,143 142,425 0.494 8,025
18 Galway 117,293 2,069 258,058 0.455 8,018
19 Kildare 106,621 1,782 222,504 0.479 8,009
20 Limerick 90,784 1,549 194,899 0.466 7,948
21 Laois 35,886 670 84,697 0.424 7,911
22 Sligo 29,610 515 65,535 0.452 7,858
23 Cork 264,071 4,231 542,868 0.486 7,794
24 Donegal 66,327 1,163 159,192 0.417 7,306
25 Louth 53,144 889 128,884 0.412 6,898
26 Dublin 552,558 7,370 1,347,359 0.410 5,470

Parliamentary Assistant


Some news: I started a new job this week. Digging through some of my old emails to prepare for the new role, I found this nugget from 2012:

I’ve said to you before that I think you’d be a fantastic candidate.  You’re young, articulate, personable, and most importantly I think you have the integrity and vision to help sort out politics in this city.

I also want to have a candidate (hopefully you!) ready to win a Dáil seat at the General Election after next, which is where I think there’s going to be a real breakthrough for the Greens again nationally.

That email was sent eight years ago to one Brian Leddin. At the time it was implausibly optimistic; the Green Party were polling at 2% nationally, we had never even won a council seat in Limerick, at that point I had one local election and one national campaign under my belt as a Green Party member, and I didn’t exactly have a winning mindset. I was also on the Party’s National Executive. With only a single part-time member of staff it was up to volunteers like me to help keep the party running, and I have memories of composing the national members’ newsletter from my kitchen table to try and keep our members motivated during that time.

Eight years later, I was proud to manage Brian’s election campaign where he won a historic victory by becoming Limerick’s first Green Party TD.

What motivated us through those eight years? I think it was partly seeing so many of our peers leave Limerick, either for Dublin or further afield, both before the economic crisis and after it. Our local perspective was that a different kind of regional development was possible, one that placed the development of compact regional cities, teeming with life and prosperity, at its core. A city that could hold on to its young people and offer a modern, sustainable, and European quality of life. A city that could play its part in responding to the great global justice issue of our time: climate change.

Which brings me back to the new job. When Brian asked me to leave my job as a software engineer and take a hefty pay cut to come and work as his parliamentary assistant, I didn’t hesitate for a second. We have spent so much time over the last eight years, debating the future of our city and our country, and working to make it better. It’s time to take the next step forward.

I’ll be working both in Limerick and in Leinster House, trying to support Brian as best as I can with his legislative duties and his responsibilities as a public representative. Irish voters (rightly!) demand a lot of their TDs. A number one preference vote is a serious vote of trust, and we will have to work hard to repay that trust.

I’m looking forward to it.

Submission to the public consultation on the Land Development Agency’s master planning of Colbert Station


The efforts made to engage the public on this project have been significant and should be welcomed.

In drawing up the master plan, consideration should be given to how the development should be phased. In some cases this might mean that buildings might have an interim use that is different from their final use. This was successfully achieved in Grangegorman.

The development should be an exemplar, demonstrating that our regional cities are capable of significant housing growth in a manner that is sustainable and compatible with our obligations on climate change.

The development should developed as a car free development. Any car parking should be placed at the very southern fringes of the site, in a manner that will will allow future conversion of the car parking spaces to more productive uses. No vehicular access should be available on the North, East or West sides of the site. Significant and secure bike parking should be provided.

The majority of apartments in Limerick are 2-bed apartments. Consideration should be made to increase the diversity of apartment sizing, especially 3-bed and even 4-bed apartments which might be attractive to families. Currently 4-bed houses attract a premium in the Limerick property market.

The site should facilitate through cycling for the public from Roxboro and Careys Roads to Parnell Street. In general the site should be developed with excellent permeability for pedestrians and cyclists from all sides of the development.

Public/affordable housing should be mixed evenly through the development. It should not be possible to visually distinguish public and private housing in the development.

Consideration should be given to prevailing winds on the site and how they can play a role in cooling buildings.
The development should include lots of trees and plants.

A specific biodiversity strategy for the site is needed so that insects and wildlife can thrive on the site.

The master plan should be ambitious in terms of how many housing units and square metres of office space can be delivered. However phasing should allow for a portion of the site to be developed relatively quickly.

Grangegorman built a playground on their campus as an early part of the development. This helped to encourage the public to come in to the development and provided footfall and community amenity at an early stage.

Transport and Mobility

This January I will be starting an MSc in Transport and Mobility in TU Dublin.

I’ve been a bit of a transport nerd most of my adult life, from being on the national committee of Rail Users Ireland when I was in Dublin, to being involved with Limerick Cycling, Liveable Limerick, An Taisce, Get Limerick Moving, and the Irish Pedestrian Network once I moved back to Limerick.

After so many false starts, starting with the excitement ahead of Transport 21 in the early ‘00s and continuing through the ‘00s and ‘10s, I think we’re finally at the stage where we’re realising how we can use transport as a tool to transform our economy, our society, and our environment.

Enabling the sustainable mobility of our population will have untold benefits. Our economy will have a great future once we can decouple its growth away from carbon emissions and gridlock. Our society will benefit from becoming more compact and more connected, both with each other and with places of work, education, and entertainment. Providing top quality facilities for people to walk, cycle and take public transport will improve our cities, towns, and villages. Supporting active transport will have a real impact on the health of our population.

an abandoned car in a park

Transport currently makes up 20% of Ireland’s emissions. We need a pathway to get this down to zero, and quickly. Electric vehicles are not a panacea and we need to find ways of prioritising walking, cycling, and public transport to grow our economy and increase social mobility without the limiting factors of carbon emissions or traffic jams.

Mobility affects many areas of life. Solving mobility means considering where we build houses, offices, shops, and schools. It means properly considering cells of activity in communities to make sure they are properly served. It means applying inclusive human-centred design principles to make mobility accessible to all. It means efficiently using all the arms of the state to deliver effective solutions.

cyclist giving a lift to her friend

There may not be a semantic difference between the terms “transport” and “mobility”, but I prefer to think that “transport” involves the outputs of investment: the cycle lane, widened footpath or tram service. I like to think of “mobility” as the outcomes or the “how it works” for people: it’s the safe cycle to school with a friend, a convenient commute to a new job, an easy trip to a hospital appointment, a Saturday adventure with a grandchild. There’s always a temptation to focus on the hard engineering of transport but considering mobility requires you to think of the person making their journey, and trying to make it as attractive and effortless as possible.

It’s going to be a balancing act travelling to Dublin to do this course while maintaining my commitments to work as well as the voluntary commitments I have in Limerick. But I really feel it’s worth it, because with the inevitable national shift away from funding roads to funding public and active transport about to get underway, we need access to the latest research and best practice in Limerick. Many of the mistakes made in the east of the country haven’t yet been made in the mid-west, and I believe we can use a relatively small investment in mobility as a force multiplier for economic growth and social inclusion outside Dublin.

I’m looking forward to it.