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Connacht Tribune

More than 500 submissions on Marine Institute’s plans

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The Marine Institute’s planned test site off the coast of An Spidéal has attracted a wave of opposition from concerned individuals and organisations.

A total of 557 submissions were lodged as part of the public consultation on the Galway Bay marine and renewable test energy site, it has been confirmed.

One local business has claimed the development has the potential to lead to 20 job losses, and local fishermen have also expressed concern that it will damage their livelihoods.

The family-run Park Lodge Hotel or Óstán na Páirce in An Spidéal “strongly” opposes the application for a 35-year foreshore lease.

“We have used Galway Bay at Park Lodge Hotel as a unique selling point in promoting our hotel over the past 36 years. We are concerned if this application is approved our business will suffer and result in a loss of 20 jobs for local people.

“This is unacceptable and consequently must not be allowed to happen as it will impact the wider tourism industry, which over the past two to three years has grown due to the Wild Atlantic Way,” the hotel’s submission reads.

A father and son fishermen duo, who operate a prawn trawler in the area, and have done since the 1960s, is also opposing the application.

The objector, whose name has been redacted, said they fish for prawns to the north, south, east and west of the site in question, and “not just to the west of it as the Marine Institute state in their application.”

“We lost a considerable amount of prosperous fishing ground when the original lease was granted without our knowledge in 2006, when we agreed to a site further to the southeast,” the submission reads.

It adds: “Our concern is that if a new lease is granted, the holders will increase the area of the site or God forbid seek an exclusion zone around the site without our knowledge just like ten years ago. If this were to happen it would mean considerable financial loss to our vessels, crews and families.”

Fishermen on the Aran Islands have also objected to the location of the test site, due to the potential negative impacts on prawn fishing.

“I am writing to you expressing a major concern in relation to the site location of this project,” said Sean Griffin, General Manager of Galway and Aran Fishermen’s CO-OP ltd.

“I believe that the project is worthwhile but the site location could be changed. It would not need to be changed drastically, possibly a mile or so further near Galway. The reason for the issue with the current proposed location is that it is in the middle of prawn grounds that a number of smaller trawlers fish during the year. This number has become more significant as the catches have increased in this area in the last two years.

“Surveys carried out by the Marine Institute show a high density of prawns in this location. I would propose that the Marine Institute sit down with the boats who are members of Galway and Aran Co-Op in order for them to determine what areas are fishing grounds and which are not, in this area.”

Fianna Fáil Galway County Councillor, Seán Ó Tuairisg, in his submission as Gaeilge, simply called for a public hearing into the application.

Scores of private individuals made submissions as part of the process, as well as organisations such as An Taisce, Friends of the Earth, University of Sussex, Environmental Action Alliance, Clare County Council, Fáilte Ireland and Coastal Concern Alliance.

Concerns raised – as summarised by the authorities – include incorrect information, vague information about economic benefits, misleading information, a conflict of interest and lack of impartiality of Minister Simon Coveney, no Environmental Impact Statement,  inadequate information about the impact the site will have on the environment, confusion over whether it will be connected to the national grid, the 35-year lease is too long, it is too close to the shoreline, noise pollution, general pollution, there was insufficient consultation, it will impact on tourism along the Wild Atlantic Way, and it poses risks to birds, marine mammals, fish and general wildlife.

Minister Coveney will be advised by the Marine Vetting Licensing Committee, and will then make a decision on the application.

Connacht Tribune

Fuel for thought as we try and energise our wheels

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

A good few years back . . . well probably even decades . . . I remember asking quite a knowledgeable motoring correspondent, long gone to his eternal reward, about the pros and cons of staying with petrol or switching to diesel. By the time his reply had finished, nearly 20 minutes had elapsed, and I was avalanched with so much data that I was no wiser at the end of the conversation than I was at the start.

I thought of that a few weeks before Christmas when I happened to tune in to a programme on Channel 4 – Dispatches – which examined the practicalities of owning and driving an electric car across the roads of the United Kingdom.

There is a wish amongst all of us to pursue a more environmentally friendly way of life. At this stage, we all probably know someone who has purchased a fully electric car and certainly many more who have dipped their toes into the waters of the hybrid models.

Anyway, the main theme of the Dispatches programme was that after 10-years of investment by the UK authorities in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars, quite a shocking number of charging points were either out of action or were not working to their full efficiency.

Nearly 10% of the ‘rapid chargers’ sampled across the UK were found not to be working properly, while 30 new ultra-rapid charges were also found to be dysfunctional to varying degrees. Some of the charging points had been out of action for six years and a percentage of those were unrepairable as their technology base was now obsolete.

Apart from their significant extra cost – even if one qualifies for the maximum €5,000 Government grant – the great fear I would have with the electric cars is that I’d find myself marooned in a corner of Kerry or Antrim, out of ‘juice’, and unable to access a charging point.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Farm buildings can be used as business hubs in rural areas

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Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind)

RURAL farm buildings should be utilised for small business enterprises which would supplement the income of landowners as well as creating some local employment in the process.

This was the view of the vast majority of Galway councillors who passed a motion that buildings directly relating to farming be considered for other purposes that would be financially advantageous to the owners.

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the Galway County Development Plan when it was suggested that the farming community needed to be allowed develop small business opportunities.

A motion from Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind) – deviating slightly from Galway County Council policy – proposed that they be allowed carry out businesses such as the servicing and repair of machinery, land reclamation, drainage works, and agricultural contracting was carried.

The motion added that this be allowed where it is financially advantageous to locate in a given area and where it would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The Williamstown councillor said that it could result in hundreds of small business enterprises being developed out of farm buildings.

“At the moment they cannot get planning permission for such enterprises given that they are located in a rural area,” he argued.

He was supported by Cllr. Pete Roche (FG) who went further by saying that even the establishment of pet farms or animal farms that could be opened up to the public were also options that could be considered.

“There are farm families at the moment who cannot earn a decent living out of agriculture alone and would relish the opportunity to diversify,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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