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Study pinpoints 240 flood risk homes in Co Galway

Denise McNamara

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Some 240 homes in towns around the county are at risk of significant flooding in the next big flood according to the most extensive flood risk maps ever drawn up.

The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment & Management study conducted the Office of Public Works (OPW) is the largest study of its kind undertaken in Ireland which aims to plan for measures that are needed to manage flood risk from rivers and the coast.

The study centres only on areas of population and is based on surveys, hydrological analysis, hydraulic computer modelling and public consultation.

Galway is divided between two studies, one for the western waterways and the other the catchment areas of the Shannon River.

In the western study, the OPW found seven towns outside of Galway City were at risk of flooding for which no viable solution could be found for all but one town in the next big flood event – described as a 100-year flood.

The map shows Clifden is the most prone to flooding with 25 homes at risk of flooding. The study puts the damage caused by such a flood at over €625,000. An embankment would best address flooding in the town, according to the consultants.

Gort is the next town most likely to flood with 12 homes at risk, which the study assesses would cost €116,000. Kinvara is third with eight houses and a damage bill estimated at €565,000; there are four in Oughterard costing €12,263, three in Oranmore with damages put at €21,000 and three in Corofin, with the damages here estimated at €360,000. There are two homes on the flood risk map in Roundstone which if flooded are estimated to cost €21,000.

Claregalway is excluded as a major scheme is currently underway to address flooding on the Clare River.  Galway City has 318 homes at risk which would cost €8.1m in the event of a flood.

Ballinasloe and Portumna are examined in the study centring on the Shannon. In Portumna 117 homes are risk of flooding with a flood gate regarded as the best solution to alleviate water damage, which would cost €3.6m.

In Ballinasloe, where extensive flood defences previously created saved over 200 homes last winter, there are a further 60 homes at risk when next the waters rise in the River Suck. The study proposes a scheme where the wall at Derrymullen is extended and more eyes on the East Bridge are opened and a dam built upstream to restrict the flow of water.

Fine Gael Councillor Jimmy McClearn said people in Portumna were most anxious that work on the flood gate would be completed soon as it would alleviate 95% of the flooding in the town.

Ballinasloe Councillor Aidan Donohue asked if work in the town was contingent on other work on the Shannon.

OPW engineer Clare Butler said while the body would prioritise certain projects the work in Ballinasloe was not dependent on work elsewhere on the River.

Cllr Joe Byrne (FG) asked if the OPW were looking at the whole catchment rather than particular blackspots.

He said flood relief measure in Gort some years back had saved the town but had cause mitigating problems in the surrounding hinterland.

He welcomed an application to the OPW for funding to progress a flood relief scheme to benefit townlands from Skehanagh in Peterswell to the sea in Kinvara.

In the past six months over 40 roads have been permanently raised which should alleviate some of the hardship for motorists who had to endure lengthy detours last winter.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley

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An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham

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The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley

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Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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