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How To Kill A River.

On October 4th last we published that the River Suir walkway here in Thurles would be closed to all pedestrians; starting from the “Swinging Gates” at the junction of Thomond Road and Emmet Street, through to the junction of Slievenamon Road and Clongour Road. We gleaned this information from the Tipperary Co. Council’s own website.

Up to today, Sunday October 10th, the walkway has remained open with thankfully no re-surfacing work undertaken. A social media publication from Councillors Mr Seamus Hanafin (Fianna Fáil) and a live radio communication from Mr Jim Ryan (Non Party), each seeking to enhance future election profiles, had seriously angered those volunteers who for years had kept this area clean and litter free. Latter volunteers had not in any way been consulted about this resurfacing work and felt that the funding acquired should have been better spent on the river itself, now an embarrassing, foul-smelling eyesore, rather than spent on widening the existing walkway with 3meters wide tarmac strips.

The video slide-show, hereunder, further acknowledges and fully recognizes the reality of the public’s desire for a change in how funding was being spent.

No drawings or details have been provided by council officials for this work, with those responsible claiming that this work to resurface the existing path, does not require design drawings. However, a Habitats Directive Assessment Screening Report they claim, has been carried out for the proposed advance works and the local fisheries representative has been consulted.

Most people believe that this threatened upgrade is really to provide a cycling path along the river bank, at the expense of leisurely pedestrian traffic and much badly needed seating areas.

Regrettably, no volunteers have turned up recently to clean this River Walk area, further clarifying remarks made by Thurles.Info that Thurles County Councillors and their officials have deliberately and slowly killed off all local voluntarism.
The result is litter everywhere in the form of bottles, cans, condoms, rotting fish half eaten by feral cats and takeaway boxes; mainly strewn about due to the total absence of appropriate litter bins; which we have continuously highlighted as required for this area.

Here in Thurles town the River Suir exists, running parallel on the west side by the river walk and on the east side by the Thurles town park. Here exists a huge amenity, in both a ‘Blue Way’ and a ‘Green Way’. Blue spaces/ways are areas such as the river Suir, while both banks provide Green ways, and a number of health benefits.

With this in mind, we learn this week, from the Institute for Global Health, that a lack of green spaces has caused nearly 43,000 premature deaths in nearly 900 European cities. 
Scientists, with the Institute, confirm that urban parks help to improve air quality, filtering out toxic pollutants that kill scores of people every year.

Researchers state green spaces offer no-cost spaces for people to exercise, helping drive down obesity rates and improve heart and lung health, while improving social interaction. 

Same other benefits of green spaces include reduced stress and improved sleep, with other associated studies claiming reduced cognitive decline in the elderly.

Green spaces have also been found to reduce some the negative health impacts of urban living, acting as a filter to both noise and air pollution, latter which are thought to reduce life expectancy by increasing blood pressure.

The academic team claim that these benefits are also good for mental wellbeing and stress levels. The data behind this research is so strong that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends every home should be within at least 300m of a green space area containing at least half a hectare in size. 

Researchers at a United States University [University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)], found that children residing within that state who grew up within a third of a mile of a park or green space were at a lower risk of becoming obese by the age of 18, and were less at-risk from chronic health problems in their later years.  They found that regardless of a families wealth, those that lived close to a park or green space or blue space, were less distressed. 

One of the studies examined found that nearly 30% more teenagers were inclined to spend an hour or more doing some form of physical activity, five days a week, when they lived near parks and green spaces. 

Scientific analysis claim that over 40,000 people in Europe die early, every year, because they do not live in areas with enough green space provided.

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1 comment to How To Kill A River.

  • Catherine Fogarty

    George you paint a bleak picture.
    It has to be said that people don’t show much respect for other people or the environment when they litter so causally or toss bottles and cans into the river. That behaviour has to be called out – there seems to be a nest of brown glass bottles in the river north of the bridge and a human hand certainly tossed them in there!

    The overall river quality is a reflection of disinterested public representatives.

    The latest project to add 3m tarmac paths is frustrating – why no details published, why do this work when a larger project went out to tender in July?
    The July tender sought a contractor that would design, complete planning and construct a river walk from Thomond Road to Turtulla and across to Lady’s Well. The project also involved 2 further design elements – namely the design for a footpath from Lady’s Well back into town and a river walk along the bank of the River Drish between Archerstown and the Dublin Road. All welcome ideas.
    I sent the council a detailed proposal for actions in the river area between Pheasant Island and the Pedestrian Bridge – fail to see why they would ignore the town center river area. I was sent an acknowledgement at the time and promised a detailed response – non received at this time.
    It’s nothing personal to me – I know there is a huge workload but I don’t think any Thurles Councillor has any interest in our environment and that is concerning.
    In recent times we have seen trees removed from Liberty Square, (some marked for retention in drawings) we have been told there will be at least 6 trees planted – less than what we started with and lost the mature trees in the process. The Hedgerow at the river was destroyed, it could have been incorporated into the works. The linear woodland is under threat at both ends and a risk of a roadway across it. We have a bio diversity crisis.
    We could have lots of walks in the grounds of St Patrick’s MIC campus – walks, lighting, town centre, traffic free. I believe that nature and the river habitats need priority consideration in developments along and close to the river.
    The council say that protecting the river corridor is their policy – let’s see it in action.

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