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LIFE EMERALD – Improving Our Understanding Of Ireland’s Air Quality

EPA has started a 3-year project that will improve the level of air quality information available to the public and policy makers in Ireland.
LIFE EMERALD is part funded by the European Commission LIFE funding programme.

The main objectives are: –

  • An operational 3-day ambient air quality forecast;
  • Near real-time mapping of the main air pollutants throughout the country and in our major cities and towns; and
  • Annual mapping of air pollutants across the country
  • The project will support Irish citizens in making decisions that positively benefit their health on a day-to-day basis.

The EPA has commenced work on a new 3-year EU part funded project entitled LIFE Emerald – “Emissions Modelling and Forecasting of Air in Ireland”. The project proposes to greatly improve publicly available air quality information and raise awareness around the topic of Irish air quality.

The LIFE EMERALD project will also improve Ireland’s ambient air quality management capabilities, by using an air quality modelling system to gain a better understanding of the factors contributing to poor air quality and develop a system that will provide better information to the public. The project will deliver the following: –

  • An operational 3-day ambient air quality forecasting system, which will inform the public of the predicted air quality in the coming days, allowing them to make decisions to better protect their health.
  • Near real-time (NRT) air quality maps, to provide more detailed information to the public, which will incorporate live data from the growing EPA ambient air quality network.
  • Annual air pollutant maps, which will allow for more detailed air pollution assessment.

On the commencement of the LIFE EMERALD Project EPA Director Dr. Micheál Lehane, has stated,

“LIFE EMERALD will help deliver the first operational national air quality forecast for Ireland. This will allow citizens to become much more informed on their own actions in response to forecast air quality. It will greatly strengthen our knowledge of air pollution nationally. We are delighted to receive the funding from the EU LIFE Programme to help us proceed with this project and we hope to deliver a greater understanding of Ireland’s air quality into the future.”

The EPA will manage the project in co-operation with its main project partners the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, the Health Service Executive, the Asthma Society of Ireland, University College Cork and the Belgian research institute VITO. The EPA will also consult and co-operate with other national stakeholders that have an interest in the area of air quality, such as the Irish Heart Foundation.

Ms Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society stated,

“Ireland has the highest incidence rate of asthma in Europe with one in ten children and one in thirteen adults developing the condition – with 890,000 people likely to develop asthma in their lifetimes. The Asthma Society of Ireland welcomes the opportunity to be part of the LIFE EMERALD Project as the link between clean air and improved human health is clear.”

Mr. Mark Murphy, the Advocacy Officer at Irish Heart Foundation, stated,

“At the Irish Heart Foundation, we welcome the EPA’s LIFE EMERALD project as it will help raise public awareness of the significant damage that air pollution does to cardiovascular health, and highlight what measures could be introduced to reduce the 1,300 premature annual deaths caused by air pollution, the majority of which are due to stroke or heart disease.’’

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, with priority given to the provision of the air quality forecast in early 2023.

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Ireland’s Power Generation & Industrial Emissions Drop 6.4% In 2020

  • In 2020, greenhouse gas emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies – covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, fell by 6.4 per cent.
  • Emissions decreased by 8.4 % from the electricity generation sector, due to more renewable energy and less fossil fuels.
  • The overall decrease in industrial emissions is 3.5%, with the cement industry emissions decreasing and increases recorded for the dairy and pharmachem sectors.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation decreased by 63% compared to 2019, which reflects the significant impact of Covid-19.

The EPA, as the Competent Authority in Ireland for the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), today released its preliminary analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Emissions from Irish power generation and industrial companies fell by 6.4% (0.9 million tonnes) in 2020, to their lowest level since the EU ETS was introduced in 2005. This compares with a decrease of approximately 11-12% across Europe.

The decrease in emissions is due to the impact of lower production in some industrial sectors during the pandemic, combined with a significant drop in power generation emissions. Power generation emissions dropped by 8.4% as a result of the strong presence of renewable energy – mainly wind generation – and less use of fossil fuels, such as peat, in our energy mix. In contrast, emissions from the ESB coal-fired plant at Moneypoint increased by almost 27%, mainly due to increased demand for balance on the National Grid.

Aside from power generation, the decrease in industrial emissions collectively is 3.5%.

  • Cement industries recorded a 5.7% decrease overall.
  • The dairy processing industry showed a 4.0% increase.
  • Emissions from pharmachem industries increased by 10.9%.

Aviation emissions from flights within the European Economic Area reported to Ireland decreased by 63% compared to 2019, to 4.74 million tonnes. The only airline showing an increase in emissions in 2019 and 2020 specialises in air freight.

Dr. Maria Martin, EPA Senior Manager, stated:
“We welcome the overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 from large industry and power generation. However, underlying this decrease are some contrasting trends. An increase in the use of renewables in the power generation sector – coupled with the impact of Covid-19 – leads to less emissions. There are, nevertheless, many companies in the industrial sectors, such as dairy processing and pharmachem, where emissions are increasing year on year.

A positive development is the fact that the price of carbon in the EU ETS has continued to rise from just under €31 per tonne at the end of 2020 to €43 per tonne currently. It is not yet clear if this will be sufficient and stable enough to drive emissions reductions.”

In Ireland, 105 major industrial and institutional sites were required to report their emissions for 2020, by March 31st 2021 in the Emissions Trading System. These include sites operating in the power generation, cement, lime, and oil refining sectors. Also included are large companies in sectors such as food & drink, pharmaceuticals and semi-conductors.
Details of the verified emissions of greenhouse gases in 2020 are available on the EU’s website HERE. The data are not complete for all Member states. Analysis of the EU data can be found in Carbon Pulse HERE.

Further details about Emissions Trading are available on the EPA website HERE.
Further information about Ireland’s overall greenhouse gas emissions is also available on their website and the EPA has developed useful infographics and published the detailed greenhouse gas inventory HERE.

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Two-Mile-Borris Sensory Garden

Exquisite Sensory Garden at
Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, Co. Tipp.

A well designed sensory garden epitomises the adage that “gardening adds years to your life and life to your years”. Two-Mile-Borris village, near Thurles, in County Tipperary, is home to an exquisite sensory garden that provides enormous benefits both to its visitors and to the local community.

What is a Sensory Garden?
A sensory garden is a garden that is designed to stimulate all five main senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell), and in doing so, has been shown to have many and diverse benefits for its visitors.

What are the benefits of a Sensory Garden?
Sensory gardens are associated with multiple benefits, including having a positive impact on our cognition, physical fitness, creativity, mental health and well-being.
In terms of cognition, building and caring for a sensory garden provides ample opportunities for young and old to acquire new knowledge and skills. Planting and playing in a sensory garden can also help to improve fine and gross motor skills.

When it comes to physical fitness, any gardener will tell you that gardens and exercise go hand in hand, whether you are digging, weeding or simply walking outdoors and enjoying the sunshine. A sensory garden, by virtue of its stimulating design, encourages movement, as visitors explore all that it has to offer by way of touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.

Sensory gardens and the role they can play in supporting mental health and well-being is widely recognised. Different sensory experiences can immediately lift our mood, helping us to feel calm or joy. The very act of sitting outdoors and taking in the sights and sounds that nature has to offer, can help alleviate our stress levels.

For children and adults with sensory processing needs and other special needs, sensory gardens are praised for their therapeutic benefits and the opportunities they provide for sensory stimulation, emotional regulation, language experiences and social skills development.

The Two-Mile-Borris sensory garden, in terms of creativity, is a place of magic and wonder for all visitors. The materials and plants have been purposely selected to stimulate our imaginations, in addition to our senses. Life size insects and fantastical structures provide wonderful opportunities for artistic expression and storytelling, both now and into the future.

Apart from the positive impact the Two-Mile-Borris sensory garden has had on the local villagers themselves; situated beside the local primary school it has now also become undeniably beneficial as an additional outdoor classroom. Indeed, under the supervision of Two-Mile-Borris Development Association, many of the wonderful sensory items within the garden have been either constructed or introduced into this area by the local school pupils themselves, thus making this area, “Their Special Place”.

Where can I learn more about Sensory Gardens?
There is no one design for a sensory garden, but all five senses must be represented and there are certain plants and materials that you will typically find in a sensory garden because of their stimulating nature.

To find out more about sensory gardens why not visit this wonderful imaginative garden in Two-Mile-Borris and explore its selection of plants and materials that aim to stimulate touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.
This garden, like all sensory gardens nationwide, has just three simple rules, (1) No dogs to avoid dog fouling; (2) No alcohol consumption; (3) No smoking.

Two-Mile-Borris Development Association are anxious to emphasise that their local village sensory garden was initially the brainchild of the late Ann Commins. Today it stands as a lasting memorial to her creativity, her total dedication and true community spirit.

Thanks to the work of Liz & Philip Quinn, (Stonemad Sculpture Workshops), Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


A special thanks also to Development Association Chairperson Michelle Maher-King & Treasurer Maeve Russell, for their editorial assistance and continued promotion of this truly remarkable village asset.

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Many Thurles Hands Make Light Work In Sliabh Na mBan Meadows

The young, the old, the brave and the bold came, their duty to fulfill. [Line from verse 2 -“Spancil Hill”]

Sliabh na mBan Meadows Annual Spring Clean

A large turnout of persons, all residents of Sliabh na mBan Meadows housing estate, eagerly set about their annual Good Friday clean, on April 2nd last.

Strictly observing National Public Health Guidelines regarding C-19 virus restrictions; eight determined women and two men, equally displaying resolve, (one ‘trailer man’ missing from picture) armed with shovels, yard brushes, spades and rakes, arrived out to start their own Easter Rising of 2021.

Woe betide any weeds, leaves, or discarded other, that came into their field of vision; same quickly finding themselves in the dark insides of a black plastic refuse sack, and “before you could say Jack Robinson.

For your pedagogy, tutelage and finer edification, (which is ever only available here on Thurles.Info); John (Jack) Robinson was Lord Mayor of London in 1662, and was also Constable of the Tower of London, latter a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.
Same Mr Robinson built a much loved reputation for being able to speedily condemn a felon, before having him swiftly transported to the Tower, to have his head severing off. [Nice friendly sort of guy.]

Meanwhile, even the signposts got a rub of a wet dishcloth.
Result, within two hours, one pristine, immaculate and shining Sliabh na mBan Meadows estate.

Well done folks, community spirit lives on in Thurles.

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Clear Spells & Sunshine This Easter Weekend.

It looks like we’ll be enjoying some nice weather over the Easter weekend. If you are out and about please be sure to “Be Safe, Be Seen” by wearing High Visibility clothing, whether it’s daylight or night.

Good Friday.

Good Friday is set to be a bright and dry day with sunny spells and moderate breezes from the northeast. Southeast Munster is expected to get the warmest weather with highs of between 13 to 16 degrees Celsius across the province.

Easter Saturday.

Sunny spells and mild weather will continue into Easter Saturday with temperatures expected to hit highs of between 10 to 13 degrees Celsius.

Easter Sunday.

It looks like the rain will return after lunch on Easter Sunday with temperatures dropping to as low as 8 degrees Celsius in places.

Easter Monday.
Easter Monday will be cooler still, with northwesterly winds accompanying lower temperatures of between 3 to 7 degrees Celsius.

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