GAA sustainability pilot programme centres on Castlebar facilities
GAA clubs throughout the county are about to engage in a major sustainability programme which could save them thousands of euros.
A pilot scheme is already in the process of being set up involving the campus at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park and the Castlebar Mitchels GAA Club which would see both benefit in terms of generating electricity through solar heat, recycling harvesting rain water for use in toilets and the irrigation of playing facilities, while the cost of lighting at MacHale Park could be greatly reduced through solar power.
The major thrust of the programme was outlined to Wednesday night's meeting of the Mayo GAA County Board by Kurt Reinhardt, facilities manager of the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence, where a similar programme is in place for the last two years and is proving very effective not just as a money saving exercise but also contributing significantly to a greener environmen,t with biodiversity also a big part of the exercise.
The Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan has already shown the way of what can be achieved by implementing a water meter processing programme and using rainwater harvesting to feed into all the toilets.
A sum of €100,000 has been made available by the various agencies for the implementation of the pilot scheme in Castlebar if the projects get the go-ahead, and that decision will be made in the coming months when a sub-committee of county board, executive members of Castlebar Mitchels and representatives of other parties invoked will be meeting.
Judging from the meeting on Wednesday night, a lot of clubs are clearly very interested on how they can not just reduce the rising he costs of running their clubs, but also make a contribution to a better environment and reduce energy waste.
Clubs through the county will be provided with an in-depth report on the benefits of becoming involved in what is basically a sustainability programme. It could see many clubs become a lot more self-sufficient in relation to heating their facilities through solar power, waste management and the use of waste water, which can also be used for pitches.
Grants will be available from various government agencies as well as other sources to support any projects undertaken by clubs.
Said Mr. Reinhardt: "Take the roof above our head (a reference to the expansive roof covering Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, where the Mayo board hold their meetings) – you could put at least 1,000 solar panels on top of this which would result in an annual savings of over €50,000."
He also said similar panels could be installed on the roof of nearby An Sportlann, which could accommodate around 300 solar panels.
The background to the programme goes back to last year when the Mayo GAA County Board approached the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in relation to a suitable sustainability programme.
With the proximity of Castlebar Mitchels to the Hastings Insurance MacHale Park campus, a template was drawn up for the Mayo board as well as for clubs around the county, and all the 52 clubs in Mayo were contacted.
"The response from the clubs has been very good, with 42 expressing an interest, and the plan is to engage with those clubs in an effort to see what they can do at local level," said Mr. Reinhardt.
"We have a responsibility as an association and as individuals to become involved in a green energy programme and the area of biodiversity, with a lot of suitable areas around the MacHale Park campus for biodiversity in particular."
The area of waste management was also very high on the agenda, with plastic waste following major games at county and club level mentioned as one area that needs addressing giving the amount of rubbish that is left at various venues.
If the plan is adopted, a steering committee will then be set up comprising of Mayo GAA, Castlebar Mitchels, Connacht GAA and Mayo County Council Climate Action, who contributed €14,000 to preparing the extensive report in relation to the proposed Mayo GAA and Castlebar Mitchels campus, with work on it likely to start before the end of this year.