It’s the classic case of poacher turned gamekeeper. A serial objector to large-scale infrastructural developments, Peter Sweetman has been hired by Galway Harbour as a consultant to advise it on how best to secure planning approval for its ambitious expansion plans.
Mr Sweetman, an environmental consultant, is credited – or blamed – for halting progress on the Galway City Outer Bypass. He successfully appealed to European courts the decision by An Bórd Pleanála to give the go-ahead for the ring-road project.
It has resulted in the National Roads Authority and Galway’s two local authorities going ‘back to the drawing board’ and to look for an alternative route for the bypass. Galway Harbour, and the business community in the city, was one of the supporters of the bypass.
Mr Sweetman, held up as a champion by protestors, might ordinarily be expected to line-up on the side of the minority who are opposed to the harbour’s expansion plans.
But Chairman of Galway Harbour, Eamon Bradshaw, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that Mr Sweetman has been and continues to be engaged by the company to advise it on its IROPI application.
This is the first time the Imperative Reasons for Overriding Public Interest route for a major building project has been applied for in Ireland.
Under this route, Galway Harbour acknowledges its expansion plans will impact on natural habitats but that the impact is overridden by an overriding and imperative public interest.
Mr Sweetman has been brought on board to help prove that, and advise on the nuts and bolts of the application.
“We have a series of consultants and Peter Sweetman is one of them,” said Mr Bradshaw.
“The outer bypass failed in Europe. Now whether you agree with the decision of the court or not, he was one of the main objectors – the decision was given and whether you agree with it or not, he effectively won the case,” he said.
Mr Bradshaw added that Mr Sweetman was a “very knowledgeable man”, who has broad expertise in the area of European law and the IROPI process, which will be of great benefit to Galway Harbour’s expansion plans.
“I met with him. He’s a very, very knowledgeable. Everything he said made sense and so we took him on board,” added Mr Bradshaw.
Galway Harbour consultants are currently working on a response for further information from An Bórd Pleanála in relation to its application under IROPI.
Galway to receive €1million in outdoor recreational funding
Taste of Galway at ‘Flavours of Ireland’
Some 60 tourism companies from Ireland attended ‘Flavours of Ireland’ 2022 in London last week – including Connemara Wild Escapes, DK Connemara Oysters and Killary Fjord Boat Tours.
‘Flavours’ is Tourism Ireland’s annual B2B tourism workshop, where tourism companies from Ireland meet and do business with top global inbound tour operators.
Now in its 20th year, ‘Flavours’ took place in the Guildhall, in the City of London, and was attended by around 100 global inbound tour operators who deliver business from all over the world, including the United States, Mainland Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa.
‘Flavours’ provides an excellent opportunity for the participating tourism providers from Galway and Ireland to highlight and sell their tourism product and build valuable relationships with the key decision-makers in attendance.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Planning Regulator wants Galway City Council U-turn on Development Plan
From the Galway City Tribune – The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has asked Galway City Council to roll back material alterations to the new City Development Plan proposed by councillors.
In July, elected members voted through a raft of changes to zonings in the Draft City Development Plan 2023-29, which went out on public display.
But the Planning Regulator has now warned City Hall that many of the proposed changes do not comply with the OPR’s recommendations, and are contrary to national planning guidelines.
The OPR specifically highlighted problems with proposals to rezone as residential land deemed at risk of flooding.
Anne Marie O’Connor, Deputy Regulator, wrote to the Council’s Planning Department outlining the OPR’s fresh advice on the changes to the draft plan proposed and approved by councillors.
The draft plan will come before elected members again this month.
Councillors will be asked to row back on some of their previous material alterations, which ran contrary to advice of the OPR.
Ms O’Connor said the OPR welcomed many of the changes made by the City Council in its draft plan. She said, however, that the OPR “has a number of outstanding concerns relating to the response of the planning authority to its recommendations and to a number of proposed material alterations relating to the zoning of lands”.
These relate to changes that conflict with national and regional objectives for compact growth; with legislative requirements regarding climate action and core strategies; and with rezoning land at risk of flooding.
The OPR highlighted a dozen or more material alterations by councillors that are “not consistent” with the National Planning Framework for compact growth.
These include re-zoning of land from agricultural or recreational and amenity to residential.
The changes voted on by councillors, the OPR noted, were done against the advice of the Council’s Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
The OPR said the changes proposed by councillors represented a “piecemeal approach” to zoning and were “inconsistent” with national policy.
These comments related to proposed rezoning of land at Rahoon; Dublin Road; Quarry Road, Menlo; Ballindooley; off Circular Road; Menlo village; Roscam and Barna Woods.
The OPR also raised “significant concerns” over five material alterations proposed for residential zonings of land at Western Distributor Road; Terryland; Menlo Village; Headford Road and Barna Woods which are located within flood zones.
The approach by councillors “may place people and property at unnecessary risk from future flood events”, the OPR warned.
Ms O’Connor told planners that if the draft plan ignores the OPR advice or is at odds with its recommendations, the Council Chief Executive must inform the OPR in writing the reasons for doing so.
Save Roscam Peninsula in a 33-page submission to the draft plan echoed many of the concerns outlined by the OPR.
The Council has pencilled in four dates in November and December to approve the plan.
It will meet on November 21, 24 and 28 and December 1 when material alterations will be voted on individually.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, November 4. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.