KINSALE could be to the fore as Ireland’s first energy-independent town when, as predicted, oil becomes more scarce and a lot more expensive, said Mr. Fred Treacy at the monthly meeting of the town council.

The local authority unanimously adopted his motion to support the efforts of the not-for-profit company Transition Design in its initiative to act as process leader in Kinsale’s transition to a lowe- energy future and in developing the concept of a ‘transition town’, that is, a town making the transition from fossil fuel dependency to a state of energy independence.

Mr. Treacy said his motion was based on the many exciting and attainable objectives contained in the document ‘Kinsale 2021: An Energy Descent Action Plan’ which was compiled by students of the Practical Sustainability course in Kinsale Further Education College between September 2004 and June 2005, was financially supported by the town council and acclaimed at the international conference ‘Peak Oil: Fuelling the Future’ hosted by Kinsale FEC last summer and addressed by a panel of world experts.

“The availability of cheap oil is the foundation of our economy and lifestyles but its non availability is the cause of a lot of turmoil in the world. With oil prices continuing to rise, we have all experienced the additional cost of running our cars and with demand exceeding supply, this will have a detrimental effect on our economy and lives if plans for the future to reduce our reliance of fossil fuels are not put into place,” Mr. Treacy warned. Increased oil prices not only resulted in a hike in transport costs but also in food, medicines, heating and industry.

“Seeing the need to continue developing a plan for Kinsale in ‘energy descent’, Louise Rooney from Kinsale and Catherine Dunne from Macroom (both of whom were in attendance at the town council meeting and welcomed by Mr. Treacy and Mayor Tomas O’Brien), set up the company Transition Design.

“The purpose of the company is to act as process leader in Kinsale’s transition to a lower energy future.,” continued Mr. Treacy. “These two ladies are looking for the support of the council for their initiative of developing the concept of a ‘transition town’ – a town making the transition from fossil fuel dependency to a state of energy independence. It’s a process that will evolve over a period of time during which a steering group will be established. They are already doing a fantastic job and I believe we should give support to people with the courage to take on this exciting but demanding project.”

Proposals under the ‘transition town’ project, he went on, included: * an energy audit of Kinsale; * examine energy efficiency of existing buildings and; * promotion of another ‘Peak Oil: Fuelling the Future’ conference in the town which, it was hoped, would become an annual event.

“The benefits for Kinsale, I believe, would be many,” said Mr. Treacy. “There would be increased publicity for the town in a positive light. It would bring high profile speakers to the town for the conference and it would set in train an education awareness programme.

“Our economy is vibrant at present but none of use can forecast the future. Transition Design is giving Kinsale the opportunity to be the first town in Ireland to put in place a process to plan for the future and it is an exciting initiative worthy of our support”, he added.

Mr. Charles Henderson seconded the motion and in support, Ms. Isabelle Sutton, who attended the ‘Fuelling the Future’ conference and a think tank on energy independence earlier in the year, said the project offered the opportunity for all townspeople to have an input such as in community gardens, walk to school scheme, composting, a bio digester for restaurants and other potential local initiatives, all of which were very attainable at relatively low cost.

Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne, she stated, were doing a fantastic job in a project which was non political, voluntary and had the potential to unite and make Kinsale Europe’s first sustainable town but they needed support. She suggested they themselves make a presentation to Kinsale TC at its February meeting and also spoke of the value of promoting the ‘Slow Food’ movement in the gourmet town.

All other councillors supported the motion with Mr. Dermot Collins advocating smoke-free coal for Kinsale while the mayor congratulated Louise, Catherine and Kinsale FEC and commended Mr. Treacy on the motion.