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Post-pandemic vision for Clare outlined in Development Plan submission

A TULLA-based environmental and climate activist is hoping to “herald a new era for County Clare,” through an ambitious submission the County Development Plan (2022-2028), calling for ‘organic’ and chemical-free status for the area.

Swiss national Cornelia Wahli is the driving force behind a number of high-profile initiatives including Operation De-Plastification and the Slim Your Bin Challenge. She has now asked the local authority to declare a the County Clare “organic, chemical-free and GMO-free”.

Ms Wahli told the council she hopes that in 2050, at the age of 33, her granddaughter will “live in a county, in a country, on a planet that is still green and capable of supporting comfortable and enjoyable life”.

In the submission, seen by The Champion, Ms Wahli said, “an organic, chemical-free and GMO-free County Clare is able to solve and combat a wealth of serious and damaging environmental threats, such as water pollution, air pollution, soil pollution, species extinction, habitat loss and loss of biodiversity.”

Ms Wahli said that adopting her proposal would be a “simple but courageous decision”.

She is proposing forms of agriculture and forestry which she believes can minimise environmental damage. These include ‘agro-forestry’ – the integration of trees with crops or livestock, on the same land; and ‘agro-ecology’- a sustainable farming and food production system.

“An organic, chemical-free and GMO-free County Clare would sparkle like the jewel in the crown,” the submission said, “like a beacon that heralds a sustainable future for our generation as well as future citizens promising clean water, nourishing and continued food supply as well as natural reinstatement of the all-important, life-sustaining biodiversity and ecology.”

The submission also gives examples of international projects which have created “local employment opportunities for farmers, growers and the hospitality industry, for the tourism industry and for entrepreneurs”. These include regions in Europe, Africa, India and South America which has secured ‘organic region’ designations.

Ms Wahli expressed the view that the pandemic had encouraged people to put a new focus on their local areas and increased appreciation of the environment.

“During the coronavirus pandemic with its “stay local” policy, thousands if not millions of Earth’s citizens opted to spend time with and in nature in their immediate environment helping them to better mental wellbeing and giving them coping mechanisms as well as a re-acquaintance with the natural habitat,” her submission said. “With the unfolding of the pandemic and the consequent shift to a new reality and normality, who could possibly object to going organic, chemical free and GMO free in the pursuit of sustainability, biodiversity, ecology, climate change mitigation, CO2 sequestration and community resilience?”

“Going organic, chemical-free and GMO-free is an opportunity for Clare County Council to show real leadership, foresight and future proofing for its citizens and equally for its fauna and flora as well as for its water and soil,” the submission added. “Furthermore, such a brave step would help other Irish counties and other nations to follow suit in turning an environmental challenge into an amazing opportunity. Taking action now can stem back the flood of despair that is sure to follow if remaining on the trodden path.”

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Ms Wahli noted that, “climate refugees would be most grateful, if County Clare ‘became the change that we want to see in the world’”.

She urged the council to adopt her proposals “as a post-pandemic vision where County Clare can prosper and flourish on the road less travelled”.

The review of the County Development Plan is a statutory process that will take two years to complete. A draft plan is expected to be published in August of 2021 when a further public consultation period will begin.

 

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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