Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.
Galway 2020 could drive you to drink but not Galway Gold!
Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column
Back in June 2017, Galwegians were still ‘tipsy’ at Galway having been designated as the European Capital of Culture in 2020, just 12 months previously.
The mood was invigorating – intoxicating, almost – as Galway continued to celebrate the culture equivalent of hosting the Olympic Games.
Diageo, the makers of Guinness, in conjunction with 45 city pubs, even launched a new beer onto the local market.
Galway Gold was unleashed on thirsty locals to “celebrate the city’s successful bid to become European Capital of Culture for 2020”. Some €10 from each keg sold was to be donated to Galway 2020.
Since the launch of the new beer, the problems with Galway 2020 are well documented. They vary from issues with artists’ Intellectual Property, fundraising shortfalls, concerns over a lack of connectivity with local communities, secrecy and lack of engagement with artists, and serious staffing issues.
They could drive you to drink. Just not Galway Gold. Not any more, anyway, because Diageo has confirmed that Galway Gold has now been removed from the market. The beer itself wasn’t particularly tasty, or popular.
A bit like the Galway 2020 project itself, all that glistens is not gold. But all is not lost either.
“Working with our customers in Galway, we have decided to replace Galway Gold as of July,” confirmed a Diageo spokesperson.
“We are replacing it with Citra IPA and using this to support the 2020 venture from now on. We are attending a meeting led by the 2020 committee with all publicans in Galway next week.
“At it, we will confirm our continuing support and present plans for the next reiteration of the fundraising plan. The move was made to keep the idea fresh and relevant and to maximise the opportunity for Galway 2020 to collect funds and support the initiative.”
With a gaping hole in the budget, Galway 2020 will be mightily relieved by Diageo’s ongoing commitment and support. Now if they could just get commitments from ‘funders’ Galway County Council, Northern and Western Regional Assembly and Western Development Commission, they’ll be sucking diesel.
Board of Galway 2020 should be watchdogs
A little update on the ‘Who knew what?’ saga in relation to the premature departure of Galway 2020 Creative Director, Chris Baldwin.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Controversial city centre homes plan gets green light
Galway City Council has given the green light for the construction of 19 new homes in Woodquay, despite huge local opposition on the grounds the area is being “ghettoised” by students.
K King Construction Claregalway Ltd had sought permission to demolish numbers 33-35 St Brendan’s Avenue to make way for 19 maisonettes and apartments.
The plans involve:
■ 7 own door one-bed apartments
■ 3 own door two-bed apartments
■ 4 two-bed two-storey maisonettes
■ 1 three-bed two-storey maisonette and
■ 4 three-bed three-storey maisonettes in three blocks rising two, three and four storeys.
The plans also include bicycle parking, bin store and a shared public courtyard.
A total of 14 objections were received from locals on the grounds of anti-social behaviour due to the high level of students in the area already; lack of access for fire engines; lack of carparking; noise pollution and littering.
There was also an objection on the grounds that one of the properties to be demolished is more than 100 years old.
Planners approved the application and ordered that a development contribution of just over €148,000 be paid to the Council towards the cost of providing services; €40,000 towards the provision of public and sustainable transport facilities and an insurance bond be entered into or cash deposit provided to ensure footpaths, lighting and drains are satisfactorily completed.
In an objection, the Woodquay Residents’ Association said the imbalance of 21 home owners to 238 students/transient renters and anti-social behaviour is “forcing people out”.
A resident of Corrib Terrace said there would be unacceptable levels of rented/student accommodation, which is ruining the quality of life for the residential community, and that it would increase health and safety risks in the area due to lack of access for emergency services.
“The student population has been ghettoised into one segregated area within the Woodquay residential community now occupying one full half of St Brendan’s Avenue. The area has become the city centre’s most noted student hub, attracting students like magnets to the area during the student festive celebrations such as Donegal Tuesday and Rag Week.
“The noise, music, screaming and partying goes on for days and nights, and has become unbearable for residents. The litter, vomit, broken bottles, damage to cars and property is unbelievable.
“The residential community, whose priority is to preserve home and family values become compromised by a rented community whose priority is often to have fun, party and live economically.”
A former resident of St Brendan’s Avenue said he lived on the street for most of his life, growing up there as a child.
“I felt sad that eventually after years of putting up with anti-social behaviour, I felt I had no option but to leave my home and my neighbours and friends.”
In a separate objection, another resident wrote: “The years of anti-social behaviour has created a perception that this street is an ‘anything goes’ or ‘lawless’ are of Galway’s inner city. This has made the street susceptible to more sinister crimes. Public drug dealing (heroin) can be witnessed in daytime hours for the past two to three years.”