The Ireland 2040 Plan identified the town of Portlaoise as a national demonstration project for implementing sustainable and community driven urban renewal. Furthermore, Portlaoise was allocated funding to become a ‘Low Carbon Town’ as part of the Ireland 2040 demonstration project.
Portlaoise Low Carbon Town will provide several key benefits including:
removal of large volumes of traffic from the town centre via delivery of the Portlaoise Southern Circular Road
- reconfiguration of traffic flows through the town centre is expected to reduce traffic and traffic congestion
- significant reduction in carbon emissions driven by positive interventions at James Fintan Lalor/Lyster Square
- re-balance the existing circa 3,600 car parking spaces
- 40% increase in bicycle usage by 2040
- 300-500 trees planted in the town centre
- reduction in dereliction by re-purposing existing buildings
In 2017 Laois County Council engaged with the community in Portlaoise and formulated 2040 and Beyond: A Vision for Portlaoise. This vision, re-examines and re-purposes the town centre of Portlaoise, and in synergy with Portlaoise as Ireland’s first ‘Low Carbon Town’ proposes:
- improving overall air and environmental quality
- supporting more active travel through walking and cycling
- providing a better-quality environment for leisure and social uses
- reducing the impacts of car use on the public realm
Portlaoise Low Carbon Town also recognises that refurbishing and repurposing derelict buildings impacts positively on low carbon commitments. In the past five years, plans have been developed and construction has commenced on a number of key derelict and vacant sites including:
- The construction of a new library in the heart of the Main Street
- The refurbishment of the old convent on Church Avenue for homes for the elderly,
- The transformation of a building at Tower Hill into a low carbon innovation hub centre of excellence known as the Cube
- The provision of new homes and on the once derelict Maltings Site
- The provision of homes and commuter facilities near Portlaoise railway station
- The design of new apartments on the site of the former County Hotel
- The reimagining of the old Fort Protector site to cater for music tuition and an outdoor festivals.
In 2019 Laois County Council received €12 million from the Urban Regeneration Development Fund, meaning the bold objectives of this strategy could begin to be become a reality.
Laois County Council is determined to bring about an increase in cycling through a programme of awareness and physical development work in the Town. It is committed to extending on-road and off-road cycleways, and extending the so called Triogue Way, a signature cross town Greenway through the Peoples Park to benefit school going children and the greater community.
On energy use the Council has retrofitted 2,500 existing streetlights in Portlaoise with energy-saving LED lighting and has provided additional lighting to poorly lit areas.
Solar powered compactor litter bins in the town have increased from 30 to 50.
A further 20 EV chargers will come into service at the new commuter carpark at Portlaoise Railway station in early summer 2023.
The Portlaoise Town Team, in existence since 2017, has also established a low carbon subgroup that collaborates with the low carbon town implementation group. The Town Team draws its membership from local business, traders and retailers. One of its primary objectives is to work towards transitioning to renewable energy, better insulation standards, shift to active travel and the reduction of single use plastics.
A Low Carbon Town implementation group was established in 2019 involving stakeholders from the sphere of academia, energy generation, the health service, retail, and transport. The group is serviced by Laois County Council and its aim is to work with the community in implementing energy efficiency and carbon reduction measures at all levels of urban living.
Portlaoise Carbon Footprint Study
In 2019 Laois County Council engaged consultants to prepare a baseline carbon footprint of Portlaoise town and to explore potential opportunities to reduce the overall carbon footprint. The scope of the study was limited to emissions from direct energy consumption and does not include secondary emissions from consumption of products. Local solutions were suggested, with measured impacts on emissions.
Above is an infographic summary of the Portlaoise Town Carbon Footprint Study.
Please use the links below to access more information on the Portlaoise Town Carbon Footprint Study.