Local Greens call for easing allotment restrictions

April 28, 2020 0

Local Green Party TD has written to the Taoiseach asking him to consider easing restrictions on access to allotments in the government’s review of movement restrictions for the Covid-19 crisis. Joe O’Brien stated that: ‘I think the inclusion of allotments in the list of areas that are off-limits during the Covid-19 crisis underlines a shortcoming in the governments understanding of why people use allotments. When our agriculture spokesperson wrote to the Minister for Health over a month ago about access to allotments nationally, he referred her to three different government Departments. So there was clearly confusion at a high level on this. Allotments are not seen as a food source and I think this is the key to the issue.

Joe OBrien and Karen Power smallerWe are of the view that the decision should lie with individual local authorities and decided on a site by site, case by case basis, and based on the submission of a social distancing and a hand hygiene plan. Also I think as an interim measure allotment holders could agree a rota whereby everyone would get several short opportunities during the week to do a small amount of necessary work such as watering while at the same time ensuring that there is only a small number of people on the site at any one time in different parts of the site. It would be little different to limiting the number of people accessing supermarkets where numbers are limited. But of course, allotments are even safer as each allotment is a distinct area, often fenced off and in the open air.

I think the set up in the majority of allotments in Fingal certainly lends them to safe access, where only members have access via an electric gate, its well organised and the allotments are reasonably large. Coming into Mental Health month in May I think it will be of huge benefit to so many people’s mental health if the allotment restrictions are eased in a safe way.

Local Councillor Karen Power has said; “I have been contacted by many plot holders in Balbriggan who have planted food for the year and it needs tending, others have lost their jobs and are relying on their allotments as their main source of food supply”

“I recognise that public health must be the paramount consideration, and I welcome the extensive actions the Government has taken to limit the spread of Covid-19. Fingal County Council has ordered the closure of all allotments within its jurisdiction, based on the Government’s Public Health advice, however, other local authorities have not. I have raised the matter on several occasions with officials in Fingal County Council, on the basis that allotments are an essential food production site and should be included within the food production exemption on this basis.”