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Residents appeal Apple data centre plans

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Residents living near the proposed new Apple building in Athenry have appealed the decision to grant planning for the data centre at a Greenfield site.

The objectors cite traffic concerns, as well as the impact on badgers and bats, as reasons to halt the €850 million investment.

Galway County Council a fortnight ago gave the go-ahead to the multi-national giant to build a 30,000 square metres development at forest land owned by Coillte near Derrydonnell that will house its new data centre. The IDA has hailed the €850 million investment in Athenry as one of the biggest foreign direct investments (FDI) in the history of the state.

As well as construction jobs, the company has indicated it will employ 300 people once the plant is up and running. It had hoped to build the centre by 2017.

But residents have this week lodged an appeal to An Bórd Pleanála against the decision.

Noel and Patricia Heneghan Kelly of Toberroe and Mary Lindsay of Toberroe have both lodged appeals to the planning appeals board.

They objected to the development due to increased traffic and noise associated with construction traffic. They feared for the impact the development will have on a nearby private well, which is a source of water to nearby homes. The appellants also claimed there will be significant impacts on bats and badgers, which are protected species, living in the forest.

The planning appeals board will deliberate on the objections and issue its judgement by February of 2016.

Galway County Councillor Peter Feeney (FG) said everyone is entitled to object and he could understand why people living near it might be concerned. However, the Athenry area councillor said that Apple had addressed all of the concerns raised by residents, including traffic concerns, when it submitted additional information to the local authority during the planning application process.

He said that traffic along that road used to be far worse before the M6 motorway was built than what it will be like once Apple’s plant is finished.

“Once this building is built, you won’t be able to see it, you won’t be able to hear it, you won’t be able to smell it. It is on a 500 acres site of forest and it is hollowing out the middle of the forest and you won’t even know it is there,” he said.

Cllr Feeney said the vast majority of people in Athenry and County Galway welcomed the investment with open arms. It is building on the cluster of technology and pharmaceuticals companies that have set up in Galway City, and wil create further spin-off employment.

“This is the single biggest investment in the West of Ireland ever. It is big in its own right but it will also create huge spins offs. Apple opened in Cork 35 years ago with 100 jobs, now there are over 4,000 there. This can be hugely beneficial to the entire West of Ireland. If we are serious about creating a counter-balance to Dublin and if we are serious about saving rural Ireland that this is something we all have to support,” said Cllr Feeney.

He pointed out that the plant will have an outdoor education space and high quality walking trails. “It is a most welcome investment in Athenry and I have consistently welcomed it,” added Cllr Feeney.

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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