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Proposed Centre for Climate Action and Sustainability at Myross House, West Cork, Ireland

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Myross House, Leap, West Cork, Ireland

Myross House, Leap, West Cork, Ireland

  1. Introduction

Green Skibbereen CLG has made a proposal to Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSH) to form a partnership for the development of a Climate Action Centre based at Myross Wood House and Grounds, currently in the ownership of the Order.  

 

Discussions to finalise the terms on which Green Skibbereen will occupy the property are ongoing. The project aims will be consistent with and supportive of the charism and philosophy of MSH.

 

The aim of this briefing note is to provide up to date information on the project.

  1. About the Project

We are developing proposals for a Centre of Excellence for Climate Action and Sustainability at Myross House. 

 

The project will be developed with inputs from the local community and other stakeholders. 

 

Potential partners for the project include Cork County Council, University College Cork (School of Architecture and the Environmental Research Institute), NCE Energy Hub, Ludgate Digital Hub, Cork Institute of Technology, Cultivate Centre and Carbery Housing Association CLG.  

 

Green Skibbereen CLG has secured funding from West Cork Leader Funding to undertake a feasibility study for the project.  Green Skibbereen CLG has engaged consultants to undertake the feasibility study which we expect to be completed by end January 2021.

  • The first element of the feasibility study will identify the physical requirements of the proposed activities for the upgrade of the property, in terms of repair, refurbishment, and any additional development, including any required planning approvals and statutory or stakeholder consultation and approvals.   This element of the feasibility study is being undertaken by Brady Mallalieu Architects (BMA).
  • The second element of the feasibility study will develop proposals for new uses of the house consistent with the overall philosophy of the MSH and having regard to best practice examples of such developments elsewhere.  The outputs for this element of the project will form the business plan for the Project.  This element of the feasibility study is being undertaken by Exodea Consultants.

We are currently engaged in discussions with potential partners and advancing plans to make an application for funding under the EU Horizon 2020 Green Deal programme. 

 

If successful, under this project, Myross House would become a European demonstration site for innovative best practice and technical solutions for the upgrade and energy retrofit of historical buildings.  

 

Green Skibbereen will also explore other funding opportunities in 2021 including for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF).

  1. The aims of the Centre for Climate Action and Sustainability at Myross House

Communities in rural and remote areas are already disadvantaged in terms of infrastructure, jobs and affordable housing, vulnerable to the impact of economic change and likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic and by climate change due to a heavy reliance on tourism and agriculture for jobs.  

 

It is necessary for us to build and nurture sustainability and resilience in communities in West Cork to cope with these existing and anticipated challenges as we emerge from the Covid 19 crisis and face up to the effects of climate change.  

 

We will promote resilience through advocating and supporting economic activity around green solutions for homes and businesses and leading the way in up-skilling people to take up employment in this sector as demand increases.  

 

Our ambition is to provide the skills here in West Cork to underpin sustainable and skilled employment to help future proof our local community and economy.   We will:

  • host events to promote awareness and understanding of the need for community action on climate change in the region; consultants and contractors on energy efficiency and renewable will have an opportunity to participate and contribute sponsorship  
  • develop a community-based research and development centre for practical solutions to climate change, efficient energy and sustainability that will support green jobs and innovation.  
  • develop a self-financing model, with support from commercial sponsorship, and client fees, to offer programmes on sustainable energy, environment, eco-design, green building project development and management, sustainable agriculture, forestry and land management that will underpin the transition to the green economy and support Ireland’s efforts to achieve targets on climate action. 

The activities proposed for the Centre are as follows:

  • Training and capacity building including residential courses aimed at the local community;
  • Education and training that would be available to communities in parts of the world that are most affected by Climate Change, including where the MSH have activities on the ground;
  • Research and development and pilot programmes (renewable energy, circular economy, green construction, sustainable agriculture, social economy development, etc.);
  • Resource centre to support local enterprise in the green economy that would act as a catalyst for the surrounding areas and to create quality employment and enterprise opportunities in Leap and West Cork; 
  • Conference venue – for sustainability and social enterprises, and related conferences;
  • Accommodation experience for students and professionals in environmental studies and practices as well as  group experiences for Universities, Colleges, establishments, and community groups in visiting Myross House;
  • Offer value-based accommodation, learning and teaching experiences, that will create financial viability for the project but also bring learning and teaching based environmental tourism to Myross House, Leap and the surrounding areas;
  • Environment and Climate Action Centre, that will increase our presence and identity towards funding opportunities for innovative, educational and climate action projects.
  1. About Green Skibbereen CLG

Green Skibbereen was established following a public meeting in Skibbereen in November 2019. 

 

Green Skibbereen is formally constituted as a not for profit CLG and brings together a wealth of business, training and community knowledge, a commitment to social justice and is rooted in the West Cork community.

 

 The aims of the group are to:

  • Promote awareness and understanding of community action on climate change in Skibbereen and West Cork.
  • Provide a forum for local community input on sustainable development and climate action.
  • Encourage the uptake of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies by the local community, including householders business and community interests.
  • Draw on community ideas and innovation to advocate for sustainable development, including business opportunities locally across the sectors that are consistent with low-carbon climate resilience. 
  • Work in partnership with other organizations and stakeholders in developing local flagship projects that will develop Skibbereen as a model for community action on climate change and sustainable development. 

We are focussing on two main areas of work at present:  

  • Firstly, promotion and advocacy around renewable energy retrofits for commercial, social and residential properties in Skibbereen and surrounding areas. We have already assisted a number of local individuals and businesses with accessing information, support and funding for this and will be hosting further public events to promote this part of our work later this year. 
  • Secondly, our project with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Leap to establish Myross House as a Climate Action Resource Centre for the communities of West Cork.
  1. Who are Board Members of Green Skibbereen CLG?

Jim O’Donnell is the Managing Director of O’Donnell Design, a well-established furniture company employing 50 people in Skibbereen.

 

He was a founder member of The Cork Craftsman’s Guild (a craft Co-op with 500 members) and was its chairman from 1973 to 1983.

 

He also served on the board of The Crafts Council of Ireland where he was responsible for a comprehensive report on the crafts in Ireland, which is still significant to this day.

 

He believes passionately that we must all do as much as we can in the community to reduce our output of carbon.

 

Noel Casserly is based in West Cork and is founder and Chief Executive Officer of SmartEarth, a consultancy on climate change and sustainable development.

 

Noel worked for many years with the Irish Government in the areas of environment, climate change and sustainable development where he led the Irish delegation at UN international negotiations on climate change (UNFCCC) and previously was Director of Ireland’s National Council for Sustainable Development. ).

 

Noel has also worked as a consultant on Climate Finance to Irish Aid, at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and is on the UN roster of national experts for climate change, as nominated by the Irish Government.

 

Jose Ospina (MA Arch) is a founding member and Secretary of Carbery Housing Association, a community-based association preventing homelessness by purchasing properties at risk of repossession.

 

He has also worked as Project Manager and Consultant for a variety of projects over the past 30 years. His experience includes EU project development and management in eco-design, circular economy, energy efficiency, and reuse and retrofitting of social housing and digital design and manufacture of computers.

 

He has also worked as Expert Evaluator for the European Commission on the energy, environmental and urban innovation funding programmes for the past 9 years and has published one book and many papers and articles in academic journals and magazines.

 

Brendan McCormack was a member of the successful ‘Save Our Skibbereen’ environmental campaign. He ran as an independent candidate in the 2019 local elections for the Skibbereen LE area.

 

He works as a business and marketing consultant for several local companies in the tourism and hospitality sector. He also writes for and provides business consultancy to the West Cork People newspaper.

 

His experience includes C++ and Java programming on financial applications for banks and stockbrokers. Before moving to West Cork in 2015, he was property manager for Shannon Homes in Dublin.

 

He is active in the arts and has taken part in projects at the Uilinn, West Cork Arts Centre.

 

Trish Lavelle is an experienced project manager and educator with over two decades working at a senior level for British trade union movement and in partnership with government, employers and educational institutions.

 

Trish has designed and delivered large learning programmes Trish also specialises in project development and initiation and has extensive public sector fundraising experience. 

 

With a strong dedication to social justice, she has a deep commitment to helping to build resilient and sustainable communities, through skills, employment and well-placed social support.

 

Trish is based in Skibbereen and was actively involved in the SOS “Save our Skibbereen” campaign, which reinforced her belief in the importance of preparing our communities for the impact of climate change.

 

Ana Ospina is a project manager and creative producer with extensive experience of coordinating, managing and delivering creative and cultural projects of all shapes and sizes.

 

She holds an MA from Central St Martins College of Art and Design. Since 2005 she has helped devise, develop and deliver a variety of art and design projects around the UK for a range of public and private sector clients, including regeneration specialists, local authorities, housing associations, architects, private developers, arts organisations, museums and schools.

 

Based in West Cork, she has a passion for sustainability, both in terms of the built environment as well as in a community context.

 

Further info on Green Skibbereen is available at www.greenskibbereen.ie