Supporting Local News

Call to bring Western seaboard airstrips into use

County councillors have backed calls to bring the €10 million airstrips at Cleggan and on Inishbofin into use.

The airstrips, which have never been used, were completed in 2009 and at a meeting of the County Council, it was agreed that the ‘Bofin facility (pictured) may be sold to the Department of Rural and Community Development for the nominal sum of €1.

Director of Services Derek Pender said it was always part of the plan that the Council would purchase the lands for its development and transfer ownership at a later date.

The site was originally acquired by the Council by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on 54 individual landowners.

However, the original plan was altered slightly by councillors, to maintain ownership of some of the 23.5ha site – instead handing over a little under 22ha at Middlequarter with the agreement of the Department.

“An opportunity has arisen for the Council to retain additional lands here at its existing depot and to the north of the depot which may have potential for telecoms infrastructure,” said Mr Pender, adding that the Council had been approached by an “interested party” seeking to provide mobile phone services.

A roadway to the north of the site was also retained “which may have public utility”.

Cllr Eileen Mannion (FG) expressed concern that telecommunications infrastructure could be the final nail in the coffin for the potential of an air connection with the mainland and lamented the fact that a service had never been established.

In a motion proposed by Cllr Mannion, councillors gave their backing to writing to the Minister for Rural and Community Development to bring forward proposals for the activation of both the Inishbofin and Cleggan airstrips.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Connacht Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Thursday.

“The air strips were built at a cost of €10 million to the state and they have not been used for the purposes they were built for, and that was to provide connectivity between Inishbofin and the mainland,” stated the motion.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mannion said a commitment was given to provide an air link to the mainland and the Department needed to make good on it, particularly as a huge amount of public money had been spent on developing the infrastructure.

“Whether you agree with them or not, they are there now at a cost of €10 million to the state and they should be put into use,” she said.

Figures revealed last year showed that around €2 million has been spent over the past twelve years maintaining the two airstrips.

Meanwhile at the Council meeting, Cllr Gerry King (FF) questioned if some of the 22 acres could be used to develop social housing on ‘Bofin.

“We have lands out there that could be used for social housing, or any housing,” he said, warning that the island community was at risk of further decline if the housing shortage was not addressed.

Cllr Mannion said it was her understanding that the lands could only be used for the purposes a CPO was issued.

Council Chief Executive Liam Conneally said to develop the lands for any purpose other than an airstrip would require a whole new process with the Department.

“The purpose was to build transport infrastructure – a runway – to connect the island. If there was any offshoot from that, it would require a different conversation,” he said.

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.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up