Offaly County Council's travel money to get a new home with project
Proposals to plant a tree in up to fifty towns, villages and rural areas across Offaly is to be examined by Offaly County Council.
Funding for the project is to be provided by money originally set aside for foreign travel including a trip to New York by the local authority's chief executive and chairperson and a possible trip to London for the Annual Offaly Association Dinner. In the region of €4,000 was set aside in the Council's annual estimates, adopted in November for the trips.
However, with a ban on international travel in place due to Covid-19 restrictions, Cllr John Carroll, an Cathaoirleach, put the proposal to councillors to fund the tree planting initiative from this pot of money.
Speaking at this month's meeting of Offaly County Council, Cllr Carroll outlined the background of the proposal after Cllr Mark Hackett raised the possibility of the savings that would be made by the Council not travelling to New York due to travel restrictions or having no conferences during the year and perhaps, looking at the possibility of investing this money in planting trees.
“As Cathaoirleach, I have decided to expand on this suggestion and ask for your support today and agree to plant a tree in a suitable location in each town and village in the county. We have come through the most difficult year. We are aware of the hardship and loss suffered by individuals in our communities and businesses. I believe that planting a tree is a symbol of hope as we come out of this pandemic.”
"It will also be a lasting reminder of what our communities endured in 2020 and 2021. And, also in a year, when decarbonisation has never been far from our agenda, we are making a positive contribution to biodiversity and tree week is also coming up at the end of the month.”
Continuing, Cllr Carroll outlining how he had faith this project could be delivered, working with the local area engineers, working with PPN, working with the Heritage Officer and also working with local GAA clubs, who have already worked with the Council during the Covid-19 response.
The independent councillor said that trees for up to fifty parishes could take part in this project.“This project is being funded because of the savings made by the lockdown and the cancellation of public events and travel. It will be a lasting contribution to the local landscape. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to visit any of the communities for any public events. I think this will be a way of linking the Cathaoirleach's year with the communities and since the idea, came from Cllr Hackett, I asked him to come in on it."
Cllr Hackett then pointed out how Cllr Carroll couldn't represent Offaly abroad this St Patrick's Day. “I think the initiative is a lovely way that we can give a little bit of hope and beauty to communities throughout the county. Each of the Municipal Districts will organise where the trees can go and they can be symbolic of the difficult time of Covid. We will also show Offaly County Council's visage for Climate Action and increasing biodiversity going forward.”
The proposal was seconded by Cllr Declan Harvey, who felt it was a “great idea”. “Unfortunately, the year that was it in and you didn't get a chance to represent our county abroad. I think it is a good idea and people do love trees,” he added.
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