UCC Green Campus Submission for Phase Two of the Marina Park development in Cork City.
This submission is made on behalf of UCC Green Campus. We welcome the opportunity to participate in Phase Two of the Marina Park development in Cork City and appreciate the effort that has been made to incorporate sustainability practices and accessibility concerns into this development. It is of utmost importance that the integrity of the existing green and blue spaces, and associated biodiversity, are protected, enhanced, and restored. The removal of trees should be minimised and any trees that must be removed in the development process need to be replaced. Given the accelerating global and national biodiversity crisis, no net loss of biodiversity must be achieved under this development. Furthermore, we want to stress the importance of only planting native species in the park. Our native species have immense ecological value as they provide essential ecosystem services to other flora and fauna and are best adapted to our local environment.
Maintaining and preserving ecological connectivity between habitats needs to be a priority in this development to ensure that the functionality of the existing ecosystems is not damaged or diminished. We do not support the expansion of any park feature that promotes habitat fragmentation or harms vulnerable/threatened species and their habitats, such as the Little Robin which is found near the disused railway line. The invaluable wetland area found in the park needs to be conserved, and given its precious nature, we do not support any park features that would incur on the marsh area. We ask that the quality of blue areas and surrounding waters is prioritised and any activities that would diminish water quality must be avoided.
Concerning the urban environment established under the proposed development, we ask that hard surfaces, such as concrete, are kept to a minimum due to the added flood risk and ability to absorb and retain heat. The urban heat island effect has numerous negative impacts on people and our natural environment, and its effects can be reduced by planting trees, utilising green roofs, walls, and other vegetation. We ask that sufficient bike parking facilities (including covered shelters and secure storage areas) are built across the development, and we would welcome the extension of the TFI Bike share scheme into the park to maximise public access. In relation to lighting, we raise concerns about light pollution generated by the park. We ask that lighting is minimised, while allowing sufficient lighting for public safety, and the selection and use of correct lamp colours to reduce light pollution, which has negative impacts on wildlife. Additionally, we would like to see water stations integrated across the park to promote bottle reuse and the use of compactor-type bin units that prevent overspilling and misuse.
We note that the development is covering an area of 13 hectares, just 40% of the Marina Park Master Plan. In light of this, all natural spaces, both green and blue, need to be maximised to support as much biodiversity as possible. Green spaces have countless positive impacts on human well-being and this development must allow nature to be thrive undisturbed. Intentionally leaving green and blue spaces to return to their wild state and not interfering with the habitats that can be found in the park will allow biodiversity to flourish and generate genuine natural spaces that support all species.
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