PLANNING permission has been refused for the extraction of stone and gravel from a parcel of land in the Athenry area for use as fill material for the Gort to Tuam motorway which is currently under construction.
It had been proposed to extract materials from an overgrown three acre site that would be returned to agricultural grassland upon the completion of the works – however, this has been stopped in its tracks because a bat survey was not carried out.
The developer John Sisk had applied for planning permission to extract stone and gravel from the agricultural land at Greethill, Athenry – the lands are located around three miles from the town. The possible presence of bats was one of the reasons why planning was refused.
Planning permission was refused by Galway County Council and then became the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanala who affirmed the decision of county planners on the basis that it would have an adverse impact on a neighbouring Special Area of Conservation.
The applicant had intended using the agricultural land as ‘a borrow pit’ for the extraction of stone and gravel which would be used as fill for the Gort to Tuam motorway.
It was the intention to extract materials to a depth of four and a half yards. The land would be remediated and returned to agricultural grassland upon completion of the works. But this was not allowed to proceed.
According to the planning file, the site in question is not directly accessible from the public road. It is currently overgrown with dense patches of hedgerow, some trees and a dirt track. There are also some sections of stone wall but it is not being used for agricultural purposes.
It is stated that the extraction site is within 300 metres of a flood risk area as well as being in the vicinity of the Slieve Aughty Mountains Special Protection Area – it is also close to a Special Area of Conservation.
The site adjoins woodland where bats may be present. An Bord Pleanala took issue with the fact that a bat survey after dusk was not carried out by the applicants.
The Planning Appeals Board also considered that this three acres of land was a valuable area for roosting and nesting and also had an issue with the fact that a dedicated bird survey was not carried out.
There were no objections to the planning application but An Bord Pleanala felt that as the proposed development involved extraction, disturbance to birds and mammals was possible.
“Given the size, scale and nature of the proposed development, potential impact on groundwater and flood risk have not been satisfactorily addressed,” it was stated in the ruling.
Agents acting on behalf of John Sisk argued that there were no bird habitats found on the site and that there was no threat to any species as a result of the works that would be carried out. However, planning was refused.
July ticked all the right boxes for farmers
JULY turned out to be a pretty much ideal month for farming with up to 25 dry days in places while the bulk of the rainfall was ‘delivered’ in two downpours over one weekend.
Abbeyknockmoy weather recorder, Brendan Geraghty, said that his rainfall total for the month of 2.95 inches (75mms.) was below the average for July – but this told only half the story.
Significant rainfall occurred only on six days during our seventh month with two big downpours on the evening of Friday the 19th – and through the day on the following Sunday, the 21st.
“I suppose overall July would have to be regarded as an excellent month as indeed was the Summer overall.
“We tended to get the rainfall in concentrated bursts but we had a lot of fine and pleasant days during the month that enabled farmers to get a lot of work done,” said Brendan Geraghty.
For full story see this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Drought conditions still prevail but a change is on the way
DESPITE the western region faring better than many other parts of the country in terms of July rainfall, major concerns have been expressed in Galway over the winter feed situation.
The most significant break in the drought pattern came on the weekend of July 15 last with over 20mms. of rainfall arriving in some parts of the county including the Met Éireann station in Athenry.
Ardrahan dairy farmer, Pat Murphy, said that while the rains of that weekend had been a help, many farmers across the county were still facing into a very serious feed and fodder situation.
“The rain we got – particularly what fell on Sunday week last [July 15] – was welcome and it did green up the place a bit, but the overall grass situation remains critical.
“Like a lot of other farmers I know, I am paying big money every week buying in extra ration to try and ‘stretch out’ the grass but there just seems to be no end in sight to the drought – and the Summer is passing.
“The date for a second cut of silage is now going back well into September. Farmers would need to have their second cut taken in the first week or so of September to allow them spread fertiliser for late grazing before the deadline [Sept. 15] for spreading nitrogen arrives,” said Pat Murphy.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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NUIG and Teagasc join forces on carbon emissions
NUI Galway and Teagasc have joined forces in an alliance aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of Irish agriculture over the coming years.
The ‘Strategic Research and Training Alliance on Carbon-Neutral Agriculture’ was launched last week by Minister of State, Sean Kyne, who said that the partnership would help in the country make the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy.
The NUIG/Teagasc alliance will facilitate new research projects and new post-graduate courses aimed at examining how Ireland can cut greenhouse gas emissions during food production.
Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, Sean Kyne, said that climate change presented many challenges for Ireland and not least in how the country managed its overall emissions profile.
He said that those challenges were clearly understood by Government as understood by Government and reflected in the National Policy Position on Climate Action and how the Climate Action and the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.
Minister Kyne said that climate action in Ireland was being directed from two different perspectives – mitigation and adaptation.
“The plan will focus on four key sectors – Transport, Electricity Generation, Built Environment, and Agriculture and Forestry which is where this new strategic alliance between NUIG and Teagasc will come in.
“There is a very great need, on the one hand, to reduce emissions and on the other, to consider the global challenge of sustainable food production for a projected population of over nine billion by 2050.
“We need to find the optimal balance between reducing emissions within the agriculture and land use sector while taking into account the vital need to maximise sustainable food production.
“Research and work that will take place under this partnership between NUIG and Teagasc will be central to helping us achieve this balance and also our national, European and international aims and obligations at combatting Climate Change.”