'Madness' of green plan to stop cutting grass in our parks
A PLAN to cut back on the mowing of parks and pitches in the interests of the environment has been described as "meadow madness".
Fingal County Council has devised a scheme aimed at encouraging biodiversity but are now being accused of taking "PR spinning to a new level".
Under the council's Growing Places Initiative 2010 they have reduced how often they cut grass in dozens of popular local parks and greens.
However, a local Fianna Fail representative claims that they are running the risk of turning local parks into overgrown rat-infested meadows.
Former election candidate Averil Power told the Herald that the plan will deprive thousands of children of valuable playing space.
Fingal County Council owns and manages more than 5,000 acres of open space, including eight Regional Parks.
The council says it has begun a five-year project to "transform open spaces in Fingal, following best practice across Europe and also from examples from several UK councils who have transformed their public green areas in this way".
A spokesperson told the Herald: "The primary benefit of Fingal Growing Places is an increase in biodiversity and native animals and plants in our public green areas, and also furthering a more sustainable, ecologically sound method of caring for open places."
But Ms Power believes that the initiative will turn local walks into "no go areas".
She says that allowing meadows to develop will turn the parks into dumping grounds for litter, which may in turn attract vermin and flies.
"Fingal County Council has taken PR spinning to a new level, by dressing up a plan to save on grass cutting in popular local parks and green spaces as an environmental initiative," she said. "It is hard to see this as anything other than cost-cutting under the guise of environmentalism."
The council spokeswoman strongly disputed this but admitted that Growing Places will allow the local authority "to manage a greater number of green areas with existing staff and resources and also reduces our carbon footprint by burning less tractor fuel from grass cutting".
"The project will allow us to align our available resources with the usage patterns of our open spaces.
"We will be in ongoing discussions with residents' groups and other interested parties to ensure we understand their actual open space usage patterns," she said.
The council say that green areas in estates will continue to have a path cut around the edge and through the green, and a play/kick-about area for children will also be cut.
"The transition from the traditional, sterile, mowed grass environment to wildflower will be gradual, and it will take some time for wildflowers and plants to bloom," said the spokeswoman.
"Fingal County Council wishes to reassure citizens that litter picking will continue as normal on green areas, and our litter wardens will continue to fine irresponsible residents who litter or do not clean up after their dogs in public areas."
Ms Power maintains that the plan will create meadows that "are entirely inappropriate for busy urban parklands in the middle of residential areas".