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treely dear Cork City Council defend decision to install costly 'robot trees' across city

The ‘trees’ - which resemble street furniture – have cropped up on St Patrick’s Street and the Grand Parade, and cost around €350,000 a year to maintain

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(Photo: Cork City Council)

(Photo: Cork City Council)

(Photo: Cork City Council)

Cork City Council have defended the decision to install costly “robot trees” across the city, insisting that the project will make an impact on air quality.

Five new CityTrees have been installed to help remove harmful pollutants from the air such as fine dust particle pollution and pollution associated with traffic congestion.

The ‘trees’ - which resemble street furniture – have cropped up on St Patrick’s Street and the Grand Parade, and cost around €350,000 a year to maintain.

UCC researcher and atmospheric scientist Dr Dean Venables described the project as a “costly and ineffectual gimmick” and residents of Cork City are concerned about the high cost of the ‘trees.’

Now, Director of Operations with Cork City Council David Joyce, has defended the initiative and said that the CityTrees will work alongside the council’s wider tree-planting efforts.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said: “Cork City Council has plans to plant 1,300 trees in 2021 alone. We have planted thousands of trees over the last number years.

“We are planting trees, but why not do both? A CityTree is a completely different entity than a normal tree.

“A normal tree that you plant, mainly through photosynthesis will convert carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen - its two constituent parts - will store the carbon in the tree trunk, and will release the oxygen back into the atmosphere.

“A CityTree is very, very different. A CityTree targets particulate matter in the atmosphere - dust in effect, that comes out from internal combustion engines in vehicles from the burning of fossil fuels and it captures that in the moss.

“The moss eats the dust, and therefore cleans 80pc of the dust out of the air... They’re actually complimetary to normal trees.

Mr Joyce said there has been some opposition to the CityTrees, but “many people” support it as a “new and innovative project.”

He said: “Cork City is a smart city. We’re looking at trying to take new, innovative technologies and trying to use them across the city, trying to understand how these can help Cork City improve the air quality.

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“We have done extensive research into this and these are a proven technology. One of the things that these intelligent trees will be doing is we will be measuring their impact over the next 12 months and we will be able to prove, based on actual data, the impact these trees have had.

“They do have an impact - they are a proven technology. This is not something that we've just dreamt up overnight.”

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