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Connacht Tribune

Council approves large-scale solar energy farm

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Permission has been granted for a large-scale solar farm near Loughrea – despite some concerns from local residents.

Earlier this year the development of 28,000 square metres of solar photovoltaic panels on ground-mounted frames was rejected by Galway County Council because of the glare it would present for local motorists.

However, this decision has now been overturned on appeal to An Bord Pleanala on the grounds that it would not injure the visual or residential amenity of the area.

Bord Pleanala was also of the view that the development at Ardnamona East, Loughrea would not negatively impact on road safety and also would not lead to increased flood risk – as it had been feared when the application was lodged.

The Planning Appeals Board set out eleven conditions that have to be complied with, granting permission for a period of 25 years and insisting that cameras and fencing have to be provided for security purposes.

Engie Developments Limited had already been granted planning permission for another solar farm near Loughrea, but this application was rejected by the local authority.

In refusing planning permission, Galway County Council also stated that flood risk issues relating to the sites had not been adequately addressed while the plans would also have an adverse impact on local houses.

They said that the location of the solar farm and the height of the CCTV proposals in close proximity to these houses, it would adversely impact on the residential amenities of these homes because of the visual impact it would create.

Planners were also of the view that because of the low-lying and exposed rural setting, the proposed development would form “an incongruent feature incapable of being adequately assimilated into the rural landscape”.

In the application for a solar farm at Ardnadoman East, Engie applied to construct 28,000 square metres of PV panels. It said the overall aim would be to export electricity to the national grid.

The residents living close to the proposed development were worried that it would have an adverse impact on the value of their homes while Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) believed that it would have the potential to cause a traffic hazard because of its location.

According to TII, the proposed location for the solar energy farm on the N65 Loughrea to Portumna road had the potential to endanger public safety as it would cause a distraction for motorists given its scale and potential glare.

 

Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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Connacht Tribune

Storm Barra to bring coastal flooding and disruption to Galway

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Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West on Tuesday, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said,

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