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CITY TRIBUNE

Environmental group has ‘no plans’ to appeal Galway City Ring Road decision

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – There has been no indication yet whether campaign groups or affected property owners are willing to appeal against the decision to grant permission for the Galway City Ring Road by lodging a judicial review.

Residents facing the loss of their homes and land were left reeling this week after they had not been informed of the decision before the news was posted on An Bord Pleanála’s site late on Tuesday.

It was just another example of how shoddily those most impacted by the development have been treated, exclaimed one man whose house on the east of the city is to be demolished.

Asking not to be identified due to the online abuse his family suffered after giving evidence at the oral hearing into the project, he told the Galway City Tribune that they were “absolutely devastated”.

“The whole thing has been a stitch up from the very beginning. They came up with this route long before and then added the other five to it to make it seem they had considered all alternatives fully. This is about opening up land in Bearna to developers – nothing about solving Galway’s traffic because a bypass will only add more cars,” he fumed.

“We’re here 42 years, we raised our kids here. What they offered us [in an initial house valuation] wouldn’t get us get a shed in town. We’re too old to get a mortgage. There’s nothing in that decision about the human beings being kicked out on the street.”

He and other residents would be unable to launch a judicial review into the approval due to cost, which he estimated to be in the region of €80,000. There is now eight weeks in which to lodge a judicial review to the High Court.

“There has to be a point of law that they missed. If we were to get a barrister to even read the decision it would cost €10,000 a day. The only thing stopping it would be if the Government had spent everything they had on Covid and there was no money for the road.”

Chairperson of An Taisce in Galway, Peter Butler, said the environmental and heritage group would also be unlikely to launch a judicial review.

“We will be discussing it with head office and they may send it for a legal opinion to see if there are grounds for an appeal but An Taisce do very few of them because they’re so expensive. I personally think if An Bord Pleanála made a decision, you leave it at that and move on.

“What’s important here is that this is a decision to approve the design, not to build it. That decision in the current climate is unlikely; I cannot see the political will to spend a billion euro of scare money with no real returns. There’s no real need for it – I don’t think it’s ever going to happen,” he said.

(Image: A photomontage of how the proposed fifth bridge over the River Corrib would look).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For extensive coverage on the ring road decision, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Cost of new Emergency Dept in Galway jumps to half a billion euro

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The projected cost for the new Emergency Department and maternity unit at University Hospital Galway (UHG) has now reached half a billion euro.

And the bureaucracy involved in getting it off the ground means its expected completion has been pushed back until 2027 at the earliest.

The project – described by the head of the Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, as the single largest infrastructural health project ever to be built in the West – still has some major hurdles to overcome before a shovel is put into the ground.

In an update at this week’s HSE Regional Health Forum West meeting, Councillor Declan McDonnell (IND) remarked that 2026 was the predicted opening for the new facility, yet the planning application had not even been submitted.

“Could it be ten more years?” he asked.

Councillors heard that a new Public Spending Code was brought in for projects predicted to cost over €100 million after the Saolta group had submitted a cost benefit analysis review which they were required to do under the old rules.

As a result of the change, management had to belatedly prepare a Strategic Assessment Report and a ‘Preliminary Business Case’ report. The first had been submitted to the national HSE last month and the latter was almost ready to send to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Assistant National Director of Estates in the HSE, Joe Hoare, said the final figure for the project would be “four to five times the €100m figure”.

(Photo: The temporary Emergency Dept under construction at the moment at UHG)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Street closures for outdoor dining in Galway challenged to An Bord Pleanála

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – An appeal has been lodged with An Bórd Pleanála challenging the legitimacy of road closures to facilitate hospitality businesses in Galway City this summer.

Galway City Council, following on from last year’s trial of on-street hospitality, introduced street closures again this year.

It is part of the Council’s ‘outdoor living’ strategy to encourage more footfall and to boost businesses – in particular pubs and restaurants – in the city centre.

The local authority has closed Small Crane, Raven Terrace, Dominick Street Upper, William Street West, Forster Street and Woodquay during certain hours in the evenings from May to October.

But a resident of Munster Avenue has referred the closures to An Bórd Pleanála and asked that it determine whether the closures constitute development and whether or not it is ‘exempted development’.

Exempted development does not require planning permission. If the Board finds that the closures are development and that the development was not ‘exempted’, then the street closures and the process they were introduced under, could be undermined and deemed to be contrary to planning laws.

An Bórd Pleanála confirmed the case had been referred to it for adjudication but it said it does not comment on ‘live’ cases. It is due to make a decision by September. The appellant who referred the case could not be contacted for comment.

Johnny Duggan, owner of Taylor’s Bar, member of West End Traders’, and chair of the Galway City Vintners’ Association, insisted the street closures were exempted development did not require planning permission and it was all above board.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Two tonnes of waste in canal – ‘the cost of outdoor living’ in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two tonnes of waste removed from the Claddagh Basin and Eglinton Canal during a clean-up last weekend is the cost of the pandemic transition to outdoor lifestyles, according to a Galway City Council official.

“Unfortunately, there has been an environmental cost to the outdoor lifestyles adopted during the pandemic. From the recent clean-up, we took out a huge amount of pint glasses, beer and wine bottles, bikes and even shopping trolleys. We all need to do our bit and use the bins provided in the city and not throw anything into the watercourses,” said Tiarnan McCusker, Environmental Awareness Officer for the Council.

Mr McCusker said that during the pandemic there was a “huge increase” in litter across the country, including in Galway City.

In response to this, the Council installed more bins in locations across the city and increased the size of the bins.

Mr McCusker attributed the amount of waste to the groups gathering outdoors during the pandemic.

“A lot of people were out drinking and congregating in the canals and generating a huge amount of waste by throwing things into them,” he said.

Councillor Niall McNelis – who is also chair of the Galway Tidy Towns Committee – said: “We want to make sure that these areas are well cleaned, and it’s not just a matter of the magicians that come in every morning and clean up the city when were all asleep in bed and clean up the mess from the night before. It takes a speciality to go into the water to clean up what they’ve done, and they’ve done an amazing job.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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