On a miserable rainswept windy Monday night, around fifty ‘Friends of the Forest’ supporters joined our protest outside a meeting of Galway City Council to highlight the need for increased protection of local parks and natural heritage areas.
As no vote has yet been taken on the proposed road through the Terryland Forest Park, we adopted a 'softly softly' approach towards the city councillors, most of whom came out to meet and discuss the issues with us in a friendly and courteous manner.
We asked them to lobby the government to introduce a refundable levy on all drink cans and bottles purchased at off-licences and other retail outlets. Discarded drink cans and bottles are probably the number one cause of litter in Ireland. Hence a refundable levy on drink cans and bottles would have an enormous positive impact on our environment by providing an economic incentive for people to keep our Irish parks, roads, waterways and public spaces clean.Such a monetary pay-back scheme existed in Ireland until a few decades ago and is very successful today in other parts of the globe.
Considerable savings in litter management would be immediately made by the state that could then be used to reduce anti-social behaviour by encouraging greater public use of wonderful green spaces such as Terryland Forest Park by funding the provision new departments of park wardens, regular outdoor family activities and park facilities such as picnic areas, community gardens and eco-learning centres.
In the interim, there is no reason why the council could not now implement a year-long public events programmes for our parks and woodlands or encourage the setting up of a unit of voluntary community park support wardens.