Fingal County Council is compiling local biodiversity action plans in support of Tidy Towns’ efforts in the Howth/Malahide area

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Fingal County Council has compiled six Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs) to support Tidy Towns’ work for the Howth/Malahide area.

he six LBAPs are for Howth, Malahide, Portmarnock, Baldoyle, Bayside and Sutton.

The biodiversity reports were presented to councilors at a recent local committee meeting.

Each was prepared by environmental consultant Mairéad Stack, working closely with Tidy Towns groups, Fingal County Council’s biodiversity officer and the operations department.

Zones cover open public spaces where Tidy Towns already conducts business or where it wishes to do so in the future.

The first step for the LBAPs was a desk survey of ecological information for each of the zones, followed by several site visits with Tidy Towns.

The following information was recorded: Notable habitats/species; challenges to these; the existing use of any of these habitats/sites; the potential biodiversity outcomes for this site; ‘wish list’ of Tidy Towns/community groups; best practice methods to employ at a site; and the site’s potential for biodiversity enhancement.

A full report was then compiled for each of the Tidy Towns areas.

Each of the Towns Rows has site-specific biodiversity action points, eg ‘plant trees’; ‘bird boxes’; “hedge management”; ‘coastal plants.’

The council is also looking at alternatives to herbicides, working with Kildare County Council, and has been testing non-herbicide alternatives.

Regarding biodiversity planting, it was noted that many tidy towns wanted to move away from non-native planting.

The local authority is due to hold a webinar in the coming weeks on how to collect native wildflower seeds in the area and organize planting in the area.

Next steps include publishing LBAP reports for each Tidy Town cluster in the Howth/Malahide area, working with the Operations Department and Tidy Towns to kick off agreed projects this year.

Thanking Ms Stack for the reports, Cllr David Healy (GR) said it was “great” to see her take on the role of ranger for the area.

It was also great to see Tidy Towns doing “such amazing work,” added Cllr Healy, who he thinks may have something to do with the pandemic.

Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG), responding to the reports, said he was “intrigued” and very interested in the proposal to have sheep grazing in Malahide as one of the action points for this area.

He didn’t get a chance to fully see the action points, which he was looking forward to, and knew Malahide Tidy Towns would do as well.

Echoing Cllr Healy’s sentiment on Tidy Towns, Cllr Eoghan O’Brien (FF) noted how Tidy Towns have “expanded their remit”, and it was “great” to see Fingal County Council supporting this by continuing to find ways to “help the process along.”

Cllr O’Brien told the local committee that there was so much work being done by Tidy Towns that if that work were to stop, the council would be in ‘a very difficult position’.

Thanking councilors, Ms Stack said the LBAPs will be posted on the council’s website within the next two weeks.

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