Wednesday, 29 July 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the Cathaoirleach. My issue is directed towards the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and relates to the Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments, PURE, project in County Wicklow. It is nice to see the Acting Leader here today because he would be aware of this project in Wicklow. The PURE project, which seeks to protect the uplands and the rural environment, is an environmental project that was set up to deal with illegal dumping in the Wicklow and Dublin mountains. It was established in 2006 and was an unique project at that time. It was based on a partnership incorporating statutory and non-statutory bodies including Wicklow Uplands Council, Wicklow County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Coillte and the ESB. The main principle of the scheme was to fund a lorry and a driver with some administration to go out and pick up the rubbish in the uplands. It has been hugely successful. It has answered over 10,000 calls and has picked up over 3,600 tonnes of rubbish in the one truck. The truck is 14 years old and is probably an environmental problem in its own right and needs replacing.
The other initiative that came out of the PURE project was the "pure mile" project. We asked communities to adopt a mile of road and to try to keep it litter-free and get a better understanding of the biodiversity and the social, cultural and built heritage on that mile of road. The Acting Leader, in his then capacity as Minister of State, came to Aughrim one night to present awards to the communities involved. This project has gone from annual to biannual funding. Last year it made an application to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment for ten-year funding. It was a change of principle so it had to go to through all of the processes. It was meant to be signed off in October, but this did not happen. The general election was followed by the formation of a new Government. I am asking the Acting Leader to address this issue because the organisations involved are concerned about the funding of this unique project, which even the Minister at the time said needed to be rolled out on a national basis, given its success.