Visit to Güssing, Austria, November 2008

Members of the Delegation

An invitation was issued by the Working Group to Town and County Council representatives and officials, energy and funding agencies, as well as local business people whose projects have an impact on the town, to accompany the delegation. Despite a great deal of interest shown by a number of people, ultimately many were unable to come due to personal or work commitments.

However we are most grateful to the following who made space in their busy lives to go with us:

Town Council:

  • Mayor Micheal O’Regan
  • Cllr Cionnaith O’Suilleabhain
  • Cllr Robert Walsh
  • Town Clerk Justin England
  • Sustainable Clonakilty funded by the Town Council:
  • Robert Lambert
  • Peter Madden
  • Alison Wickham, Secretary Sustainable Clonakilty
  • Independently funded:
  • Trevor Buttimer, Renewable Energy Management Services Ltd.
  • Bob Hilliard, Hillback Developments
  • Itinerary Güssing Fact Finding Mission
  • Monday 3rd November
  • Travel to Güssing, leaving Clon. at 9am and arriving at 1am local time due to fog delay.
  • Tuesday, 4th of November 2008
  • 8.00am Buffet breakfast at Com Inn, Hotel
  • Walk to ECRE Centre

ECRE Program:

  • 09:00 am: Presentation on the ‘Model of Güssing’
  • 10:00 am: Visit to Biomass Plant Güssing, District heating Plant Güssing and Biogas Plant Strem
  • 12:00 noon: Lunch at the restaurant ‘Cafe Innovation’
  • 01:30 pm: Discussion with Ing. Reinhard Koch
  • 03.00 pm: Visit to ECRE training centre
  • 04:30 pm: Visit to Güssing town centre
  • 7.00 pm: Debriefing discussion of day’s events
  • 8.00 pm: Dinner
  • Wednesday November 5, 2008
  • 9.00 am Buffet breakfast at Com Inn Hotel, pack and onto bus
  • 10.30 am Leave Güssing for Vienna
  • 1.00 pm Arrive Vienna for check in and lunch
  • Depart Vienna on BA701 at 1505 hrs arrive London Heathrow 1630
  • Depart London Heathrow on BA5723 at 1805hrs arrive Cork 1920
  • Bus to Clon. arriving at 2100 hrs approx.
  • Thursday November 13, 2008

Public Meeting at the Quality Hotel, Clonakilty to more than 85 people where a MS Power Point presentation described what was seen and learned in Güssing, as well as alerting local people to the need to keep their energy bills in order to be able to assist in the energy audit.

Sustainable Clonakilty in a page

Background Information


ustainable Clonakilty (SC), formed in December 2006, aims to lessen the town’s contribution to climate change and dependence on diminishing resources, principally oil, and to prepare to deal with these very real threats to the future. It is a voluntary group, has no political or religious affiliations and works hand in hand with Tidy Towns, the Clonakilty Town Council, the Chamber of Tourism, and the community at large

SC’s first task was awareness raising with group discussions. These guiding principles were adopted:

  • Reduce wasteful use of scarce resources
  • Reduce use of polluting substances
  • Reduce negative impact on nature
  • Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.

Monthly public meetings have since informed on subjects as diverse as composting to domestic renewable energy heating systems. Keynote speakers Fr Sean McDonagh, Oisin Coughlan, Prof Peadar Kirby, Joy Larkcom, Dr Colin Campbell have expounded on the their areas of expertise. Site visits were organised to gardens, sustainable homes, and other natural environments.

Submissions were made on sustainable development for Ireland (via Comhar), to the Clonakilty Town Plan, the Special Transport Plan, a walkway/cycleway to Inchydoney Beach and local property development plans.

In January 2008 Minister John Gormley launched SC’s website which is updated weekly and has around 700 hits per day.

Excellent relationships with the local business community are enjoyed and provide the group with free meeting rooms, legal advice and other donations from time to time. The Town Council are regularly updated on SC’s plans and they are generous with their assistance.

How the Community Meets the Principles of Sustainable Development

The community is actively involved in many aspects of sustainable development, whether as users of the Town Council rubbish and recycling service, or the Recyling and Bring Centres. In addition through; involvement in the Annual Spring Clean, Tidy Towns’ and national Grow it Yourself (GIY) initiatives, three Green Flag schools, taking part in sustainability promotions and appeals, supporting the five recycled clothing and goods shops in the town and the two Farmer’s Markets, increasing energy efficiency and generation in their homes, working an allotment, community garden or home vegetable garden, helping organise or attending the annual SC Green Energy Fair.

SC is made up of three main groups:

  1. The Sustclon Ltd Board of Directors which is also driving the Jungle City initiative to raise environmental awareness in general.
  2. Events & Promotion Working Group. This organises; regular meetings, promotions such as the St Patrick’s Day float, the Green Energy Fair – where local providers of household renewable energy systems showcase their products to the community, and mounts displays, presentations and activities to support other allied community initiatives.
  3. Energy Working Group. Drives the major Clonergy 2020 Project strategy with aims to enable the transition of Clonakilty and the surrounding areas to energy neutrality through the use of renewable energy by 2020, in order to support a sustainable economy and quality of life for the community.
  4. Local Transport. This was established in November 2010 to complement the Energy Neutral vision, since one third of energy outputs in the Clonakilty area are attributable to transport. It aims to promote increased use of public and non-car transport, including the promotion of car pooling, cycling and walking buses for school children.

Steps taken to date to achieve the Clonergy 2020 goals are:

A fact finding mission to Güssing, Austria to learn how a town of 4,000 people became energy independent through the use of local renewable resources (and created 1,000 jobs) over the course of 15 years. The visit in November 2008 included the Mayor, Town Clerk, 2 Councillors and 5 members of SC.

Became a Company Limited by Guarantee in November 2008 and a registered charity, to facilitate funding and establish a professional identity.

Carried out an Energy Audit of Clonakilty Town in order to ascertain how much energy the town currently consumes. Funding came via the Clonakilty Chamber of Tourism from a prize they won from Failte Ireland.

Produced and distributed an up to date map which also informs about the Clonergy 2020 project. Funding was provided by Cork County Council Local Agenda 21 funds.

Obtained funding of €26,900 to employ a specialist contractor to carry out an assessment of the feasibility of using local renewable resources to supply energy in our local area of interest, which is roughly the area that lies within a 15 km radius of the town. The feasibility of the project was confirmed and steps to achieve the energy neutral aim were outlined. This project was supported by the West Cork Development Partnership under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

SC is also meeting sustainability principles hand in hand with the community mainly through efficient use of energy resources, and good decision making, while recognising that all the other Comhar themes relating to equity between generations, respecting biodiversity, equity between countries and regions, social equity and respect for cultural heritage and diversity are inter linked and related to everything we do.

How does this Benefit the Wider community?

The work of Sustainable Clonakilty and the town’s other voluntary organisations help foster community spirit and provide a vehicle for people to learn sustainable skills. Open discussion forums allow people to participate in decision making about how the town should respond to the challenges of the future.

Successful implementation of the Clonergy 2020 project will keep money spent on energy, within the community. As in Güssing, establishment of local renewable energy supply facilities bring jobs and industry, and thus sustainable development, to the region.

The level of community participation?

This topic has been dealt with in the sections above. In addition, over 230 people are on the Sustainable Clonakilty email contacts list, over 70 financial members, numbers between 25 and 80 attend meetings depending on subject matter, and our website and facebook page (900 +members) promote our work. There are sixteen people (five women and 11 men) with a synergistic variety of skills and aptitudes who are actively involved in committee work and/or are directors of the company. Gaining the West Cork Development Partnership grant required a lot of support from local business people and others of influence in the wider community. This would not have happened if the group’s capability was not held in respect.

Background to Sustainable Clonakilty

The Clonakilty Carbon Countdown group was formed in December 2006 by Jennifer Sleeman, Founder and Honorary President of Sustainable Clonakilty, in response to the realisation that global warming was happening as a result of human activities on the planet, and that oil was running out. The aim of the group was to bring about local, practical, sustainable action to address these issues.

Many people felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of the changes required to address these new threats and unsure of what steps to take, and consequently took none or very few and hoped that the problem will go away.

However, by promoting local, practical sustainable actions the group hoped to encourage people to begin making lifestyle changes that would help. For example, if people start by making a small change and embed it into their lifestyle e.g. recycling household waste, they will begin to feel good about the fact that they are making a contribution and are more disposed to making additional changes.

It is about choosing things that can done quite easily and doing them properly. And particularly looking at what you yourself can do, not what “other people should do” . For example, you may choose to grow more of your own food, support the local economy by buying local products, avoid frivolous flying, rationalise your driving so that you make as few, and as short, trips as possible, use low energy lightbulbs etc.

In addition, awareness needed to be raised in the town council and other relevant authorities, business and industry in order to bring about positive changes that reduce the impact of people on the environment and scarce natural resources.

In 2010 aged 80, Jennifer retired from the Board of Sustainable Clonakilty and was granted life membership and later conferrred with the title, Honorary President.

However, as meetings progressed it became apparent that a comprehensive and proven approach was needed to bring about change and the Swedish ‘Natural Step’ process for sustainable communities was adopted. The name of the group changed to Sustainable Clonakilty in March 2007.

Funding & Resources

Sustclon Ltd’s greatest resource is its members and the time they give freely to the organisation. As with most organisations in this time of recession, finance is the most difficult element to manage in keeping the organisation viable. While we have been successful in obtaining funding for specific projects we have been less successful in raising funds for the core organisation. Money granted for specific projects rightly must be ring fenced, and used for that purpose, and not for subsidising other elements of the organisation.

In the past, Members’ fees and donations were used to meet on-going costs associated with insurance, administration and meeting expenses. While SC had to become a Company in order to be eligible for grant funding, this has resulted in increased costs like Companies Act compliance fees, auditors etc.

In addition cash flow concerns can arise when major funding is provided, as normally one has to contribute a percentage of the project cost and then pay out all the costs, before claiming the grant portion back.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

In order to achieve the aims of SC your support is needed in one or more of the following ways:

Sign up as a Financial Member – €5 or €10 p.a., which ever you are comfortable paying.

Make a donation to Sustainable Clonakilty. Any amount is gratefully accepted. Direct donations can save the working groups a huge amount of time and effort in organising money raisers. As a registered charity, if you donate €250 or more, Sustainable Clonakilty is also able to collect the PAYE tax that you paid, when you earned the money, from Revenue.

Sign on as a volunteer, organiser or participant in any activities. These are usually a lot of fun and a great way to get to know a new group of interesting people.

Sign on to Sustainable Clonakilty’s list of stand-by helpers who can be called upon from time to time when an extra pair of hands is needed.

Let us know your ideas for money raising projects.

Major Funding Received

We have been very grateful to receive the following funding:

In 2008 we received €4,000 funding from the Clonakilty Town Council for our Energy Project, now known as Clonergy 2020. Part of the funds were used for the Study tour to Austria.

In early 2009 we received €8,000 from Failte Ireland for our Clonergy 2020 Energy Audit of Clonakilty. A further €2,000 was received in September 2009 based on progress reports. This €10,000 from Failte Ireland was the Energy Audit part of a prize won by the Clonakilty Chamber of Tourism as ‘Best Emerging Rural Tourism Destination 2008′. We thank the Clonakilty Chamber of Tourism and Failte Ireland for permitting us to carry out the audit ourselves.

In 2010 we received €27,000 (90%) support from the West Cork Development Partnership under the Rural Development Plan 2007 – 2013 for our Renewable Energy Study: A Roadmap to Energy Neutrality in the Clonakilty District by 2020.

Smaller Amounts

Clonakilty Town Council Community Funds:

  • €1200 or our Energy Week in 2010
  • €1800 for the continuation of our work in 2011.
  • €1000 for 2012.

Cork County Council Local Agenda 21 Funds:

Funding for a St Patricks Day awareness raising float in 2008

  • €1500 Funding for a new accurate Map of Clonakilty including promotion of the Clonergy 2020 Project its aims in 2009
  • €1,000 support for community gardens in 2009 and 2010
  • €750.00 received in support for a new website in 2011.

It is important to realise that funding never covers the whole cost of implementation of a project, there is always a considerable amount of volunteer effort, and/or additional funds from our bank account that goes into bringing any project to fruition. Therefore, seeking donations, funding applications and fund raising are an integral part of our work.

Airtricity Comatallin Wind Farm Community funds also donated a magnificent Sustianable Clonakilty two sided banner and a generous number of Energy Meters to us.

Fund raisers we have organised:

  • Energy Fairs
  • Street collection days
  • Table Quiz
  • Raffles

Donations:

Donations of any type, whether it is expertise, goods for raffling or cash, are very welcome indeed. We can offer you listing and website links on ‘Our Supporters’ page in return.

We are a registered charity: Sustclon Ltd CRO No. 463930, Charity No.18535