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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council votes to curtail phone masts in built-up areas

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The Eir communications mast site in Drom Oir, Knocknacarra.

Galway City Council is to enforce tighter controls on the location of communications masts in the next City Development Plan amid rising tensions over new antennae plans.

At a meeting of the local authority this week, councillors backed a proposal from Senior Planner Caroline Phelan that the new CDP, to run from 2023 to 2029, would place a demand on telecom companies that all other options must be exhausted before permission would be granted to locate a mast in a built-up area.

This followed a motion from Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab) who sought the inclusion of an outright ban on the installation of masts ‘in the immediate proximity to residential areas, schools and healthcare facilities’.

Cllr McNelis said national legislation which said didn’t go far enough and in order to have sustainable communities, the City Council should take action to prevent the erection of masts too close to people’s homes.

“I think we need, in some way, to make a stronger statement on this,” said Cllr McNelis, adding that the regulations set down by Government stated that telecoms companies should seek other locations ahead of built-up areas, but this was not happening.

“It’s very open nationally, but at a local level we’re the ones making the decisions,” he said.

Ms Phelan said that there was a requirement on telecom providers to attempt to co-locate with their competitors and erection of such infrastructure should only take place what were likely to be more controversial areas when there was no other alternative.

“I can see where councillors are coming from in opposing these masts but you have to look at it from a national and government perspective. There is a set of guidelines and we have obligations to adhere to them,” she said.

The Senior Planner proposed that it would be possible to ‘embellish’ the national guidelines for inclusion in the CDP to insist that ‘such structures are only considered when all other options are exhausted’.

That included use of roof-top antennae and real efforts to co-locate with other telecoms companies, continued Ms Phelan.

Director of Services for Planning Uinsinn Finn warned that the passing of Cllr McNelis’ motion could have the unintended impact of obstructing vital communications infrastructure in the city.

“It is worth considering that a lot of the antennae are on public buildings – the HSE and local authorities use them and I’m sure you’d find them on City Hall,” said Mr Finn.

This comes as the controversy rumbles on over a telephone mast that was set to be installed at Drom Óir in Knocknacarra but was halted by a planning enforcement notice. A live planning application to recommence works is currently with city planners.

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) said there was a risk that there would be a ‘proliferation’ of these devices across the city and action must be taken to prevent that.

“We should be able to safeguard certain areas,” he added.

Councillors accepted that the national legislation would be incorporated into the Draft City Development Plan, as per Ms Phelan’s proposal.

That draft plan is due to come before councillors in September, after which it will go out on public display.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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