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Connacht Tribune

Islanders welcome decision to reject glamping plans

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Residents on Inishbofin have welcomed the refusal of planning permission for an upmarket camping site on the island – planners have ruled that it would have an adverse impact on wildlife habitats in the area.

It was proposed to develop 14 glamping pods, which would have the capacity to accommodate around 100 visitors at any one time, at Knock, Inishbofin.

The plan was to provide the glamping pods, a reception area, a toilet block and a wastewater treatment system at a location close to Drumhach Beach.

But the plans attracted a total of 37 objections, mainly from residents both on and off the island, on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on wildlife, particularly the Corncrake, as well as it being unsightly at this particular location.

Inishbofin Tourism Committee, An Taisce and a number of island accommodation providers were also among the objectors.

And there were suggestion that the proposed glamping development at Knock, Inishbofin, would attract a certain element that would dissuade the more traditional visitor from coming to the island.

The applicants, Bofin Glamping Limited, stated that they wanted to provide “a unique holiday or short-stay” experience for visitors by providing a high standard of accommodation.

They stated that they are fully aware of the sensitivity of the landscape on ‘Bofin and wish to make as little impact as possible on the environment.

According to their submission, the pods are portable timber-framed accommodation to domestic house standards with insulation that keeps them warm in any conditions.

Bofin Glamping Limited was established earlier this year by Paddy Mullin and John Adams who work for the locally run ferry service Island Discovery. Paddy is a crewman and relief skipper while John also runs The Harbour Shop on the island.

However, Galway County Council ruled that the site for the glamping pods was protected under the EU Habitats Directive. The development, they said, would result in the permanent loss of the Machair wildlife habitat.

The planning authority were also not satisfied that the safe disposal of domestic effluent can be achieved on site and this would pose an unacceptable risk to surface waters and the flora and fauna of the area.

It was also stated that the development would be incapable of satisfactorily assimilating into this rural landscape and would have a detrimental effect on this coastal setting.

In their submission, Inishbofin Tourism Committee say that the application listed only five accommodation providers on the island when, in fact, there are 263 existing beds available for tourist purposes.

“A plan that tries to prove demand for accommodation on the island while at the same time does not even include over half the beds in the whole tourism sector, is a plan not worth considering due to this serious misrepresentation of the facts”.

They went on to say that it would ruin this very scenic part of the island and would have a negative impact on Drumhach Beach – a Green Coast Award recipient.

“The constant pollution, noise, movement, lighting and general activity from this amount of people would be devastating for the area”, the tourism group contended.

The decision is likely to be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

 

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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