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HSE admits it could be years before public land is returned


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

HSE admits it could be years before public land is returned HSE admits it could be years before public land is returned

It will be years, rather than months, before the HSE resolves the issue of it using community land as a ‘temporary’ helipad at University Hospital Galway.

A decade on from when he said the HSE would need the pitch at Shantalla for helicopter landings for just six months in 2013, Tony Canavan, Chief Executive Officer of Saolta University Healthcare Group conceded that the hospital was no closer to returning the land to the community.

He agreed with City Councillor Martina O’Connor (Green), who said it would probably be two or three years before the issue is resolved.

Mr Canavan was chief operating officer of Saolta in 2013 when he said the community land was needed for six months to accommodate helicopter landings.

But he confirmed to Cllr O’Connor this week that agreement hadn’t been reached between Galway City Council and Saolta before the local authority Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath retired earlier this summer.

Mr Canavan did not give a timeline to Cllr O’Connor for when the issue would be resolved.

Nor did he answer a question at this week’s Regional Health Forum about whether the helipad was operating without planning permission.

Mr Canavan confirmed that the ‘temporary’ helipad was now “one of the busiest helipad sites in the country”.

Cllr O’Connor said the people of Shantalla were happy that the helipad is used for emergencies at UHG but this was recreational and amenity land that the HSE has taken over without compensation or providing alternative green space.

Mr Canavan conceded it was not supposed to be used beyond six months but said it would be reviewed.

“The options in respect of helipad facilities adjacent to University Hospital Galway both in the immediate future and in the longer term require review and further feasibility study. A design team has now been appointed to progress the matter. Some site investigation works are also planned over the coming months. Once the feasibility work by the design team has advanced the HSE intends to re-engage with Galway City Council and put forward proposals for consideration,” Mr Canavan said.

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