New Eco-Eye TV series starts on RTE1

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Duncan Stewart's popular environmental series Ecoeye is back on RTE 1 from January 3rd every Wednesday at 7.30pm for its fifth series. This year's 11-part Ecoeye series has two programme specials tackling two of Ireland's biggest environmental challenges, climate change and transport. Both feature interviews with Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan.

Climate change is one of the most pressing problems facing the world today. Ecoeye will talk to Ireland and the world's leading experts about the problems and solutions facing Ireland in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Transport is a particular environmental hurdle for Ireland. It is estimated that by 2010, transport will account for 40 per cent of Ireland's emissions, so Ecoeye looks in depth at Ireland's transport plans and asks how we have become one of the most car dependent countries in the world.

For the first time Ecoeye will go into the North and look at cross border issues such as shared waters, transboundary waste problems and Northern Ireland tourism.

Both North and South of the border Ecoeye will show that you don't always have to take a plane for a fun holiday. Duncan visits tourist areas all over Ireland for an eco-holiday. He goes hill walking in Slieve Gullion and Slieve Bloom, takes the Kingfisher trail in the Greenbox of the North West, and discovers the hidden charms of the Islands of Ireland. Duncan also stops off at Westport to investigate how tourism can be made more sustainable.

Duncan's daughter, Tania Stewart is also back reporting from all over Ireland, asking people their views on the future of Ireland's environment.

Other highlights include Duncan finding out the huge potential and importance of Irish forests. He looks at the possibility of whole towns being sustained by bioenergy and delves further into Ireland's waste crime problems.

Some of our items covered in the series include:

Climate change: This will be the opening show to set the tone of the whole series. Ecoeye highlights the urgency and seriousness of our position; if the world doesn't start to change, it could be the biggest regret in human history. We look at climate change in the world and how its effects are actually becoming visible. Climate change is no longer an abstract phrase that can be ignored. We look specifically at how Ireland is doing in meeting our Kyoto targets, the problems we still need to overcome, and offer more solutions as to how we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Duncan talks to all the experts including artic explorer Marc Cornelissen, who has set up the International College for Climate Change.

Transport: This will be the second full half-hour special of the series. Transport is Ireland's greatest challenge in reducing emissions. All other contributors to greenhouse gases can be controlled in some way, however transport is out of control. Ecoeye looks at all our current problems; the worrying trend of commuters travelling long distances, the negative effects of urban sprawl, public transport that desperately needs to evolve. In the second half we look at future plans and solutions for public transport, in particular, Transport 21, and talk to all the key players. We discuss ways of getting people out of their cars and onto public transport, and predict what is the future for the private car.

Northern Ireland element: Northern Ireland and cross border issues will appear several times throughout the series. Duncan is very interested in looking at what the North has to offer and how the North and South can work together for the good of the environment. We will be looking at how waters that lie North and South of the border are managed and looked after, focusing particularly on Lough Melvin and Lough Erne. We will also be looking at the serious issue of waste been illegally dumped over the border. Back on a lighter note, there will be a whole programme on tourism in the Slieve Gullion/Armagh area. Duncan will meet many interesting people in his tour of the area and enjoy many activities that they have to offer.

Tourism: Tourism is another big new theme this year in the South as well as the North. Duncan goes on the Kingfisher trail in the Greenbox of the North West (Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Cavan) He finds out how tourism is evolving in Slieve Bloom, and also goes to Westport to see how tourism can become more sustainable. The sustainability of tourism is very important to Duncan. He visits the Westport Woods hotel, which has installed a wood chip boiler and took many measures to make sure their hotel is energy efficient.

Forestry: Forestry is a big theme this year and is threaded throughout the series. We look at the potential of Ireland's forests for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and see just how the Forest Service is re-building our once dense forests.

Waste: We will not only look at the big issue of cross border dumping, but will look at how household waste is also illegally disposed of. Duncan visits the Wicklow Mountains to find that the beautiful landscape is now scattered with all sorts of waste, even the kitchen sink. Ecoeye shows that prevention is better than cure, by looking at new initiatives to prevent waste. We look at where our waste is going, the introduction of the brown bin, and Ireland's use of landfill.

Other items: Duncan explores how a whole town can be sustained by bioenergy, taking Wexford as an example. He visits Kelly's Resort and Spa in Rosslare, which has installed a wood chip boiler and a composting facility. He goes to an anaerobic digester that turns waste to energy, and checks out cars filling up on plant oil. Duncan also goes to the world ploughing championships and looks into the many new opportunities for bio-crops for farmers.