County planners have expressed numerous serious concerns over the proposed Apple data centre in Athenry – including the impact on the environment, the national power, the road network grid and flood risk.
Already, planning consultant Peter Sweetman has warned the centre will impact electricity supply and generation for the entire country.
In a wide-ranging request for further information on the plans for the 500-acre site, the County Council queried to what extent other sites had been investigated for the development.
The company now has up to six months to respond or the application will be deemed withdrawn.
The application includes a single-storey data centre building measuring more than 263,000 square feet; a single-storey logistics and administration building measuring 56,000 sq ft; single-storey maintenance building measuring 3,100 sq ft an two small ‘fibre huts’, a security hut, ESB substation and 18 standby generators.
The Council pointed out that the application’s Environmental Impact Statement submitted lacked detail in relation to other sites investigated for the proposal.
“Justification for this development at this location is required, observing and considering adjoining Local Area plans and their zoned land provision,” they wrote.
Planners also queried how exactly Apple plans to fulfil its plan for 100% renewable energy and sought entire clarification on electricity supply and why 18 generators are required.
They demanded clarification on figures for electricity demand and impact on the National Transmission Network and on other users of the network.
The application references a “temporary impact” on electricity supply when new high-power cables are being aligned.
Apple has entered into pre-application talks with An Bord Pleanála for the provision of a 220Kv substation and powerlines at the site.
The application claims only one generator will be in use at any one time – planners have sought clarification on the need for 18 generators, and their predicted noise levels.
Planners said the Flood Risk Assessment report failed to take previous groundwater/flooding events in the area into account and did not consider climate change.
The Council has also ordered a Road Safety Audit to be carried out, pointing out that an estimate of 10 Heavy Goods Vehicle movements per hour “may be underestimated”, and that traffic can only use the national and regional road network.
Following numerous submissions in relation to cycle and walkways, the local authority has also sought a workplace travel plan.
Planning consultant Peter Sweetman has called on the Council to reject the application on the grounds that the EIS fails to address the full impact the development will have.
“Apple claim in their submission that the development will be 100% renewable from day one. Yet it will be connected to the National Grid and therefore will receive its power from a mix of sources.
“As the majority of renewable energy in this country is sourced from wind, an intermittent power source, it is impossible to run this centre on 100% renewable energy,” he said.
He also enquired whether the 33 hectares of woodland being felled was being compensated for elsewhere.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
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.