Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

Informal learning: hopscotch water quiz!

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Yesterday, 15th February, GEAI EVS volunteers coordinated an informal learning activity about water in Youth Café Drumshanbo. It consisted on a combination between a fun game and a water quiz. The kids had fun and learned at the same time.

Hopscotch game

Based on Hopscotch game we put paper sheets on the floor with numbers from 1-11. The group of kids was divided into two teams. The first team chose a member to start  throwing the die. They should answer the water question associated with the number that the die just showed. All the questions were related to the water topic.  To get to the number they hoped and scotched. If they answered correctly they continued playing, if not the other team played. The purpose of the game was that all team members reached the “end” paper sheet to be the winner team.

Learning together

While playing, we found out that they paid attention to every answer, just in case the question could be repeated again. They were engaged with the game, trying to do their best. They have learned that the energy generated from water is called hydroelectric, that almost 80% of the Earth is covered by water however, less than 1% of it is available to drink. It was great to develop the activity with them! They would like to play hopscotch again! It is amazing to see how a popular game mixed with a learning activity can amuse them.

GEAI WINS PRIZE FOR EVS VIDEO

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Barry Gilmartin in action on Lough Allen

GEAI has won 3rd Prize in a national competition, “Pay It Forward”, to publicise 20 years of the European Voluntary Service programme.  Three young EVS volunteers, together with a young local film-maker, Barry Gilmartin, made a really excellent short video to show the world what life is like for volunteers in County Leitrim and the benefits they gained by spending  a year here.

(Link to video)

For the past four years, GEAI has hosted young European volunteers to help with our work in the campaign against fracking and on raising awareness about climate change and the challenges facing Ireland as well as the rest of the world. The scheme is funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme, which pays for travel, accommodation and food for those young people.

The EVS volunteers come from all over Europe – from Spain to Romania, from France to Bellarus – and stay in Leitrim for a year at a time.  They experience Irish rural life and culture, travel all over Ireland, make friends with local people and other European volunteers, develop their skills and improve their English language and employability.  In return, the volunteers work with GEAI to publicise issues through website, Facebook and Twitter, they help to organise campaigns and public meetings and do research on renewable energy.

“We are really delighted with our success”, said Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI Director.  “This video was very much an initiative of the volunteers themselves who got together with Barry Gilmartin from Ballinaglera to plan the whole thing.  It is a huge credit to all the young people involved who showed so clearly the benefits of the EVS scheme and I am thrilled that Barry got the recognition he deserved.”

EVS is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme

LINK TO VIDEO

Five years of Shale Gas: Public Health Impacts

The evidence is now clear

Five years ago, American Journal of Public Health  published an article discussing
the potential harm to the environment and human health from horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic fracturing of shale. At that time the USA were importing oil and gas to meet their demands but the price at pump was high so the pressure to explore locally.

Since 2011, there has been not only a surge in drilling for natural gas and oil in the United
States (e.g., California, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania,
Texas) and in other countries (e.g., Australia), but also a huge increase in the number of published studies focused on environmental and public health impacts associated
with UGD (unconventional gas development).

After five years, the same journal published an update stating that the evidence is clear of the harmful effects on human health and environment from UGD and advises focusing on policies.

We again stress the importance, indeed urgency, to focus on fair and sensible energy
policies, and to be mindful of the implications that such policies have on our environment and on population health. Ignoring the body of evidence, to us, is not viable option anymore.

Read the entire article here.

The end of Fracking proposals in Ireland?

Could this stop the oil and gas industry?

Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael T.D., has put forward an amendment to the Petroleum and Minerals Act that, though outwardly simple, could effectively ban any further on-shore exploration or extraction of oil or gas from rock or coal in the Republic of Ireland.

Wording of the Amendment

Wording of Explanatory Memorandum

Essential wording

“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act of the Oireachtas no Minister, Agency,
Planning Authority or Body acting on behalf of the State shall grant an authorisation and/
or grant of any consent, licence, permit, lease or undertaking for the exploration or
extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands or coal seams in the Irish onshore
and Ireland’s internal waters.”

There’s a long road ahead for this Bill.  It must be debated in the Dáil (probably in the autumn), go to Committee stage, come back to the Dáil, etc.  So, this will not be enacted in the near future.  However, it does constitute a very significant way forward for the campaign against fracking.

NOW THE LOBBYING MUST START!

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