Wicklow Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore is urging Wicklow County Council to apply for the funding of a Biodiversity Officer.
The funding is due to be announced as part of the Department of Housing’s open competition to get additional staff for climate action in counties – however, funding will only be available to 10 councils.
Deputy Whitmore, who is spokesperson for Climate Action said: “It is very urgent that Wicklow County Council put in a good application for one of the 10 Biodiversity Officers due to be funded in the new year by the Minister for Housing.
“When I was a Councillor on Wicklow County Council we were the first Council in the country to declare a climate and biodiversity crisis and to set up the SPC for Climate and Biodiversity Action. The need for a Biodiversity Officer was first raised by me as Chair of the new Committee yet it has been years later the Council still has very few staff to support the existing Climate Action Team.
Wicklow County Council was the first in the country to declare a climate and biodiversity crisis and set up an action committee in 2019. Whitmore, who chaired the committee during her time as a Local Councillor, has said the Council has very few staff to support its existing Climate Action Team.
Whitmore continued: “Currently we have an excellent Heritage Officer who does a lot of biodiversity work but is only one person. Local authorities will have to draft a Climate Action Plan starting in the new year which will have to be fully implemented if we are to reach our climate action targets on a local and national level.
“This will require the necessary staffing and funding to see this through. A Biodiversity Officer will go a long way to helping its implementation and vitally, keep a much-needed focus on the preservation of our environment and local biodiversity and the overall implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan.
“Biodiversity Officers will also help ensure that housing developments comply with their planning permission and protection of existing natural heritage. It will also assist the Council to make decisions which help protect delicate ecosystems on land and offshore and advise as to how to increase biodiversity across the county.”
The Wicklow TD has made enquiries with Minister for Heritage Malcom Noonan and Minister Eamon Ryan regarding the provision of funding for the Biodiversity Officer and other climate action staff for Wicklow County Council.