The way that we design our rural and urban areas has and will have great significance as to how well we respond to our changing climate.
Reduce Car Reliance. Our reliance on the car to get us everywhere needs to be significantly reduced. This can be done by investing in public transport and on a more local level improve our walking and cycling networks in urban areas. For County Kildare and many other parts of rural Ireland I believe that the unnecessary 80 km/h speed limit on the rural narrow back roads should be reduced to 50 km/h throughout! Yes, yes – I know this might be controversial – but reducing the speed would allow walkers and cyclists to start reclaiming these beautiful roads taken over by the cars in recent decades and allow our children to be able to walk and cycle to school. Better opportunities for walking and cycling not only reduces car emissions it would also greatly improve our overall quality of life and our health.
2. Flood Control. Controlling the extra rain fall and the possible flooding through
the way we design our local towns and villages will be important. By insisting on creating green networks made up of linked green open spaces, parks, cycle and walking paths - also called Sustainable Urban Drainage - we can develop a coherent structure of grass, trees and plants which can direct and absorb the extra water and avoid that it floods our homes and businesses. Better integration of parks and their playgrounds not only makes sense as cloudburst control, but also benefits local communities socially.
3. Empower the Towns and Villages. People are making long daily commutes from rural areas to large urban centres because that is where the jobs are. If we want to create thriving diverse and inclusive communities we must provide and support job opportunities locally. This should be done both through financial support, with
better broadband connections, with better opportunities for childcare etc. By building new housing and high quality urban spaces for both new and existing local residents we can reduce (the dreaded) daily commutes out of our towns, increase local employment, local economies and create a sustainable future for our local areas while at the same time reducing emissions significantly.