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Ring Road: Developer’s row over plan for compensatory grass

Stephen Corrigan



The amount of ‘compensatory habitat’ being provided as part of proposals for the N6 Galway City Ring Road is excessive.

That’s according to a representative for McHugh Property Group, which owns over 100 acres of land in the Menlo area including Lackagh Quarry.

Senior Counsel Dermot Flanagan told the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing on the proposed €650 million road development that his clients believed proposals to use in-filled parts of the quarry to re-create calcareous grassland – a specific type of grass that grows in limestone areas – were unnecessary.

According to Mr Flanagan, evidence submitted to the hearing by ecologist for the GCRR project, Aebhín Cawley, indicated that 0.25ha of calcareous grasslands would be lost to the road, but 7.14ha of compensatory land was to be provided as part of mitigation measures (for habitats which would be ‘lost’ to the ring road).

Furthermore, he said Ms Cawley had stated that the ratio of compensatory lands should be one-to-one or greater – adding that what was being proposed was far in excess of this.

Ms Cawley said she wished to clarify that the “bare minimum” of off-setting for lands lost should be one for one, but that it should be greater – and that they were also including for the limestone pavement being lost.

A large proportion of the limestone pavement on the eastern side of the new ring road was situated in a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a tunnel near Lackagh Quarry has been included to avoid impacting the protected landscape.

There are a number of areas of limestone pavement not included in the SAC, but do have Annex 1 status meaning it was a habitat of significance, although does not have the same protected status of a SAC.

Ms Cawley said there would be an inability to replace the limestone pavement lost in these areas if the proposed road were to go ahead and so they had made provision to provide additional compensatory areas – providing like for like and then adding to it.

Mr Flanagan said the ratio was extraordinarily above what was required and put it to Ms Cawley that it was simply the case that the opportunity to provide this grassland had arisen due to the in-filling of Lackagh Quarry.

However, Ms Cawley said there were in fact two areas of Lackagh quarry where there would be no material deposits in-filled that were proposed for replacement grasslands.

Mr Flanagan said both he and his clients agreed with Galway County Council – the lead authority on the GCRR project – that adequate limestone pavement had been protected within the SAC, but said there was adequate replacement grasslands being provided in areas outside Lackagh Quarry.

He said his clients had proposed alternate sites for use to replace the grasslands lost, but these had been rejected by the Council.

Mr Flanagan said that lands in the ownership of Galway City Council were suitable for this purpose and so the requirement to issue a Compulsory Acquisition Order on Lackagh Quarry could be avoided.

Ms Cawley said the lands proposed by Mr Flanagan’s clients were not suitable for recreating the habitats required.

On the purpose of these lands after works had been complete, Mr Flanagan questioned if they would be used for agricultural grazing, as recreational facilities, or as some other public amenity.

Ms Cawley confirmed that there would be no public access to the lands after construction.

Meanwhile, Mr Flanagan sought clarification that over three hectares of his client’s lands that were earmarked for use as a site compound would only be subject to a temporary acquisition and would be returned to its original owner once construction was completed.

A spokesperson for project designers ARUP confirmed that it would be reinstated and returned once the Ring Road was completed.


Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara



Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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