The "lack of transparency" from Cork City Council around the efficiency of their five 'robot trees' is "concerning," according to a Labour Party member.
In August 2021, Cork City Council installed five 'robot trees' in the city centre - insisting they are a "proven technology" that will make an impact.
The CityTrees were purchased to help clean pollutants from the air, at a total cost of €355,106.
The total cost of regular inspection and maintenance of the robot trees for the period of August 10, 2022 to September 9, 2023 was €17,880.
No data regarding the effectiveness of the ‘trees’ has been released over the past two years but the Council says it will be released once the analysis has been completed.
The 1st of our CityTrees were installed today on St Patricks St.
CityTrees help combat fine dust particle pollution &other pollution associated with traffic congestion.
Air pollution causes up to 1,300 deaths each yr, says @EPAIreland
— Cork City Council (@corkcitycouncil) August 9, 2021
This morning, Labour Party member, Peter Horgan said the trees were “the most expensive benches ever purchased by a local authority".
"The fact that the purchase for the robot trees did not go to a formal vote of the council, the fact that the maintenance of these trees is coming in at about €17,000 a year is concerning to me," he said.
"We are faced in the public realm of the city with footpaths of roads, which would encourage climate-friendly activity, [but] we're being told that there isn't enough money to fix those.
"If you had planted real trees in those locations with a nice bench [it would] cost far less [and] it would actually have more of an impact.
"We don't have data; the fact that councillors aren't getting answers is concerning, the fact that I was forced to go down the Freedom of Information route and got delayed on the Freedom of Information route, a number of times, is concerning.
"I have a viewpoint that there should be a pro-transparency directive at city hall where they publish all the data proactively."