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Ambitious Westport Energy Plan launched


MAKING PLANS Pictured at the launch Westport’s Energy Master Plan at the Town Hall Theatre were, from left: Orla Nic Suibhne, SEAI; Cllr Christy Hyland, Cathaoirleach of West Mayo Municipal Authority; SEAI Mascot, Guzzler; Feena Kirrkamm, Westport SEC and Ray McNally, Plan Energy consultant.  Pic: Conor McKeown

Ambitious Westport Energy Plan launched

Oisín McGovern

A PLAN to transform Westport’s energy use and slash the town’s carbon emissions was launched in Westport Town Hall last week. And the vision set out by driving force behind it, the West Sustainable Energy Community (SEC), has been lauded as ‘amazing’.
The launch heard that Westport could reduce its annual spend on fuel by €517,285 if 40 percent of the car fleet were made up of electric vehicles. CO2 emissions would also be reduced by 1,130 tonnes.
A 40 percent reduction in the length of car journeys in the town would reduce CO2 emissions by a further 1,333 tonnes while refurbishing 500 homes to a B2 BER energy rating would reduce emissions by a further 2,279 tonnes.
The plan also suggests that a community-owned energy project, like a solar or wind farm, could cut CO2 emissions by a further 14,602 tonnes.
It was revealed that 46 percent of carbon emissions in Westport are classed as being from residential sources.
Forty-one percent of all residential emissions in Westport are derived from oil heating, with 33 percent coming from electricity and 11 percent coming from coal.A further 35 percent was classed as non-residential while 19 percent of emissions came from transport.

15-minute town
Ray McNally, Energy Auditor with Plan Energy, described the work completed by the Westport SEC in preparing the plan as ‘amazing’.
“I’ve done a lot of these energy masterplans… Westport have been one the most engaged,” he said at the launch.
“They have expanded beyond the brief of the masterplan into what ways you can adapt your town, to look towards solutions for transport and the way you work.”
One of the plan’s central measures is the implementation of the ‘15 minute city’ concept, which would allow people to travel to various places of interests in the space of 15 minutes.
Achieving this would include the reallocation of road space for cyclists and rolling out more frequent rail services between Mayo’s railway towns.
West SEC has also proposed the introduction of a segregated cycle lane network that would allow cyclists to travel safely between major locations within the town.
Commuting by private car is the primary method of transport in Westport, with 59 percent of workers either driving or being driven by car.
Just 2.3 percent of people choose to cycle to work while only 1.4 percent used public transport.

Awareness heightened
“We’ve all become acutely aware recently of how much energy we use and how much that costs,” said Feena Kirrkamm of West SEC.
“This event gave people an opportunity to assess their options for reducing their energy and how that can be done as part of a community-wide effort.”
Speaking at the launch, Cathaoirleach of Westport-Belmullet Municipal District Cllr Christy Hyland said the fallout from the war in Ukraine has caused countries, businesses and households to rethink their energy usage policies.
“We are now focused because of the war. Big countries in Europe are sitting up and talking about energy,” Cllr Hyland said.


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