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Connacht Tribune

Planners ‘are closing down rural Ireland’

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An urgent meeting is being sought with county planners amid claims that any lifeline is being eroded from rural villages across County Galway.

It has been stated that the difficulty in securing planning permission for one-off houses and small estates in the county is effectively signalling the death knell for rural villages.

A planning meeting is to take place later this month involving councillors and officials from Galway County Council with a view to addressing the problem.

Long-serving member of Galway County Council, Cllr Jimmy McClearn from Portumna has accused county planners of ‘closing down rural villages’ by their continued refusal to grant planning permission for one off houses.

“The depopulation of rural Galway has reached a critical situation. You can travel through dozens of our smaller villages every day of the week and witness no activity whatsoever,” he said.

The Fine Gael councillor gave an example of the village of Tiernascragh, near Portumna, where there used to be two shops, a pub and a post office but in recent years all of these have closed because of depopulation.

“Villages across the county are dying on their feet and much of the blame for this lies with planners who are refusing permission for houses for various reasons and they are effectively closing down rural Galway.

“They are using the excuse of planning applications being located in floodplains as a main reason for their refusal despite some applicants planning to build houses on elevated sites that will never flood. They are also frowning on septic tanks being provided,” Cllr McClearn added.

Between floodplains in East Galway and the location to Special Areas of Conservation in Connemara, frustrated applicants are being thwarted in their efforts to build their own homes in rural parts of the county.

Even the construction of small estates in rural villages, which was very prevalent during the housing boom, is proving a very difficult process as planners are reluctant to grant planning for developments that rely on their own sewage treatment systems.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash

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A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.

Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.

The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.

The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.

The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.

Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them. 

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Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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