Creating a buzz — GWS sector shines in Europe

GWS sector representatives at the European Bee Award ceremony in European Parliament, Brussels. L-R: Noel Carroll (Mid Roscommon GWS), Thomas Rushe (Corracreigh GWS). Seán Corrigan (NFGWS), Catherine Finlay (Roscommon County Council), Franc Bogovič (MEP & European Bee Award host), Caitlin Conneely (Roscommon County Council), and Barry Deane (NFGWS). Photo: © Constance Le Hardy

The positive message of the group water scheme sector rang out around the halls of the European Parliament in Brussels in late November, with representatives invited to celebrate the success of drinking water source protection efforts.

The European Landowner’s Organisation (ELO) and European Agricultural In-dustry Association (CEMA) hosted its annual European Bee Award on 28 November at the houses of parliament. As a past winner for the award, for the ‘Let it Bee’ initiative, the NFGWS was invited to attend, along with representatives from Corracreigh GWS, Mid-Roscommon GWS and Roscommon County Council.

Let it Bee enabled 17 farming families in Roscommon group water schemes to become bee-keepers, providing them with honeybees, hives, suits, and the necessary equipment, as well as training and mentoring.

It encouraged them to act as ambassadors for biodiversity enhancement and educate their community on the dangers of pesticides to water quality and the wider environment.
The initiative won the European Bee Award in 2020 and has since grown to include measures for solitary wild bees and has expanded into other counties.

There was significant interest in Let it Bee and the wider work of the group water scheme sector at November’s event. It also presented a great opportunity for GWS representatives to learn from the work of other like-minded European organisations.

The Irish delegation with European Commissioner, Mairead McGuinness.

Policy discussion

While in Brussels, the NFGWS met with European Commissioner, Mairead McGuinness, and number of Irish MEPs to promote work of the group water scheme sector and highlight how it can play an integral role in achieving targets of the European Drinking Water Directive, Water Framework Directive and in addressing the biodiversity and climate crises facing all of Europe.

The NFGWS also met with the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, which is a key stakeholder in informing co-operative policy at European level, through its Brussels office.

This article originally featured in the most recent edition of the Rural Water News magazine. To read the full edition and to sign up to our magazine mailing list, click here.