Dereliction map

The Provisional University are hosting a talk on 4 July at 7.30pm with urban researchers Stephen Rigney and Eoin O’Mahony, dealing with issues of vacancy, property speculation and the possibilities of thinking the city from below.

Loom Studios, July 4th 7.30pm

Counter-Cartographies of the city

In the aftermath of the Celtic tiger, the contradictions of debt-fuelled property speculation as a means of economic growth are materialised in the abundance of empty buildings and vacant lots in Dublin’s north inner city. Ironically, this part of the city has a shortage of community spaces and faces an emerging housing crisis, at a time when so many spaces lie idle and closed off from use by virtue of their designation as private property. This begs the question, whose city is this?

Development plans and maps suggest a city of privately owned places connected by thin and vulnerable veins of public space. But Dublin can also be mapped in a way that represents alternative relations across space, such as the city as a place of occupations, of needs and of community. Used this way, maps, which so often are used to justify the appropriation of collective labour by private capital, offer a tool to reimagine Dublin as something more than terrain for property investors.

 Stephen Rigney and Eoin O’Mahony are PhD students in the department of geography at NUI Maynooth. They are currently working together to map derelict spaces around Dublin’s north inner city and to develop a counter-cartography of Dublin.

This event will take place in Loom Studios, which is located in The Hendrons Building, 36-40 Dominic Street Upper, Broadstone, Dublin 7


The latest tranche of Census 2011 results for Northern Ireland were released yesterday. They provide information of demography, identity, health, housing, education, labour markets, and travel and migration at a variety of geographic scales: 18 Assembly Areas, 26 Local Government Areas, 582 electoral wards, 890 Super Output Areas, and 4,537 Small Areas. Data is available for download here and accompanying mapping boundaries here (Great work by NISRA and a good example of open data)

The rich diversity of data released, and its detailed geographic resolution, enables the general public, policy makers, government and business to better understand the people and places of Northern Ireland in 2011, and the trajectories of change over time, and provides a fresh evidence base for formulating new policy and business plans. Indeed, fresh evidence was needed as Census 2001 has been used as a core base for policy formulation right up to this new release, despite it being over a decade old. What the data makes clear is that whilst there is some continuity, there has also been much change with respect to Northern Irish society and economy over the past decade. By mapping the data and undertaking time-series analysis it will be possible to understand the processes shaping different facets of everyday life and to model future scenarios for planning purposes.

To get started on all of this we have developed an interactive mapping tool for the Northern Ireland Output Areas (OA) and selected some interesting variables for Day 1: Population, National Identity, Religion, Qualifications and Unemployment. Have a look at the new mapping tool here


Over the coming weeks we’ll add to this tool and will also start on our new INTERREG funded project (with colleagues at ICLRD) that will allow us to develop a very comprehensive All-Island Census Mapping Atlas that will look at change on the island from 2001 to 2011.

Justin Gleeson

Earlier this month Deputy Willie Penrose introduced the Environment and Public Health (Wind Turbines) Bill 2012 into the Dáil. This follows the previous introduction by Senator John Kelly of the Wind Turbines Bill 2012 into the Seanad which failed to progress past second stage.

The history of non-government, private member’s bills would suggest that this latest legislation is largely a political gesture with little chance of advancing into law. The current Government is a strong proponent of renewable energy and is currently negotiating with the British government to boost renewable exports to the United Kingdom. However, it does reflect the growing public and political unease in some rural areas with regard to the increasing number of planning applications for new wind farm developments.

The main feature of the Bill is to establish mandatory minimum setback distances between proposed wind turbines and residential dwellings. These are:

  1. 500 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 50 metres
  2. 1,000 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 100 metres
  3. 1,500 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 150 metres
  4. 2,000 metres, where the height of the wind turbine is greater than 150 metres

Note: Maps now updated with additional 750 metres analysis.

Working with the research team at AIRO, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to examine what such setback distances would mean in practice. Each of the maps below illustrates the extent of the land area in the Republic of Ireland that would remain following the introduction of these exclusion buffers.

Map 1: Set-back > 500m, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 50 metres

Additional Map: Set-back > 750m


Map 2: Set-back > 1,000m, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 100 metres

Map 3: Set-back > 1,500m, where the height of the wind turbine is up to 150 metres

Map 4: Set-back > 2,000m, where the height of the wind turbine is greater than 150 metres

In the case of the 500m setback, just under a quarter (23.75%) of the total land area of the country would remain available for new wind farm development. However, this drops to 13.8% for the 750 metre setback, 9.4% for the 1,000 metre setback, 5.2% for the 1,500 setback and 3% for the 2,000m setback. The vast majority of new wind turbines currently proposed in Ireland are between 100-150m in height. Therefore, in effect, the implementation of these setback distances would result in 95% of the country being excluded for the development of new onshore wind farms.

It is clear from the maps below that majority of the land which would remain available for development is located in mountainous regions, largely along the western seaboard. While these regions do generally have the highest wind speeds, they are also some of our most important sensitive landscapes and tourist assets. They are also the regions where there is the heaviest concentration of important EU designated nature conservation sites. Development in these protected sites is governed by the ‘Precautionary Principle’ where the threshold for permitting new development is set at an extremely high bar. In fact, taking the 1,500 metre setback distance, just 3.25% of the remaining land area lies outside of an EU designated conservation site.

Ireland remains critically dependent on imported fossil fuels and, given energy security and climate change concerns, it is in the vital national interest that we progressively wean ourselves off oil and gas imports.  In the short to medium-term, the achievement of Ireland’s renewable energy targets will require a massive ramping up of onshore wind farms. Currently there is approximately 2,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity in 176 wind farms on the island of Ireland (c.1,100 wind turbines). The Irish Government has an ambitious 2020 target of 40% renewable energy production which will, in broad terms, entail the construction of approximately 6,000 MW. This level of onshore wind energy development will require in the order of 3,000 additional wind turbines. Off-course, post-2020 Ireland will quickly have to move beyond 40% renewable energy production.

Allied to this there is also an ambitious export agenda and Irish Wind Energy Association recently called for a joint government policy to facilitate the achievement of at least 3,000MW of on-shore wind energy to be identified as a minimum deliverable export potential for Ireland in advance of 2020. The proposed “Greenwire” project, which is currently at pre-application stage with An Bord Pleanála, proposes 3,000MW in 40 wind farms throughout the midlands using the world’s largest wind turbines. Mainstream Renewable Power’s “Energy Bridge” project proposes the installation of a further 5,000MW.

There may be a perception that Ireland is full of wide open spaces with plenty of uninhabited regions capable of accommodating new wind farms and associated grid connections. The reality is, however, that Ireland has a highly diffuse settlement pattern and rural Ireland is increasingly becoming a contested space. EU environmental law mandates that a high level of protection is afforded to many remote wilderness areas pushing new wind energy development into ever greater proximity to human settlement. Ireland has an abundant natural wind resource with the potential to deliver clean green energy to sustain our economy and society. However, in order to ensure competing interests are accommodated greater long-term strategic spatial planning is required. The recently published Strategy for Renewable Energy: 2012 – 2020 sets out a series of high-level actions to pump-prime the renewable energy sector. However, it fails to address these pressing and competing issues facing rural Ireland in any meaningful way.

Gavin Daly, Ainhoa González and Justin Gleeson

Since the launch of our National Census Mapping Viewer we’ve have been doing some additional work on the Small Area (SA) datasets and are now in a position to add the new maps to the viewer. The availability of SA level data is a major step forward for socio-demographic mapping and evidence informed planning in Ireland and provides a completely new insight to the trends and patterns that are in place across the country.

If we take Maynooth as an example we can see that up to this point the best level of data we had was for the Maynooth ED as a whole. The introduction of the new SA geography now means that Maynooth can be broken down into 49 individual pieces of information for each census variable. As you can imagine this allows for a much greater level of analysis and understanding of what’s happening in the town when looking at variables such as unemployment, population cohorts (0-14, 65plus etc), health, disability, housing type etc.

This morning we’ve added SA maps to the ‘Population’, ‘Religion’ and ‘Nationality’ themes. Users now have a choice of viewing each variable at either the ED or SA spatial scale. Rather than keeping the legends the same for each variable (at ED and SA level) we have opted to let the data distribution define the legends by using ‘natural breaks’ for each variable. For example, this means that a yellow colour on the ED map may not be the exact same range as on the SA map. This is just something to be aware of. Some examples of the maps are below:

Population 65 plus in DLR at SA level

Polish population in Cork City at SA level

Religion (No Religion/Not Stated) mapping in Sligo at SA level

Over the next week we are going to add to the other themes and have organised a release schedule as follows:

  • Population, Religion and Nationality: Friday, 31th August
  • Education and Social Class: Monday, 3rd Sept
  • Principal Economic Status, Industry of Employment and Occupation: Wednesday, 5th Sept
  • Housing, Transport and Communication: Friday, 7th Sept
  • Health and Disability: Monday, 10th September

You can access the National Census Mapping Viewer here:

To view all our other census mapping tools click here: AIRO Census home page

AIRO team

Having generated interactive mapping tools at Electoral Division level on the 31st of July, AIRO has expanded the CSO Census 2011 mapping toolkit to include data using the latest Small Areas boundary set.  In total 130 maps and 975 variables are available across 15 themes.

Small Area boundaries (created by the National Centre of Geocomputation at NUI Maynooth for Ordnance Survey Ireland) are considerably smaller than Electoral Divisions and offer a significantly better level of detail in terms of analysing data spatially. There are approximately 18,488 Small Area units in comparison to 3,409 Electoral Divisions. A Small Area boundary is usually comprised of approximately 80-100 households per unit and have an average size of 3.5km2. In comparison, an Electoral Division can has an average size of over 20km2. When analysing data spatially at Electoral Division level much of the detail is lost across the larger boundary area. With the Small Areas data, the user is now in a position to analyse data that in certain areas can be viewed at housing estate level.

Compare the two maps in the image below. They both contain the same data (% Population Unemployed 2011) but one is mapped at Electoral Division level and the other at Small Area. Note the increase level of detail and the differing distributions across the Dublin area. The increased level of detail allows users to identify trends and patterns in local areas that previously would have been overlooked.


How to explore Census 2011 data at Small Areas Level:

On the AIRO site go to the Census mapping module section and select the “Local Authority Module”. Choose which local authority you wish to analyse and within the map window use the “Data” button to select what Census data you wish to view and the “Change Geography” button to select Electoral Division or Small Area level geography.

Aoife Dowling and Eoghan McCarthy