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CITY TRIBUNE

Telecoms firm told Council not to concern itself with health and safety issues

Enda Cunningham

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The 'Five Lamps' structure in the ESB substation off Seamus Quirke Road.

Planning permission has been granted for new mobile phone antennae at the ESB substation in Rahoon – ESB Telecoms had urged Galway City Council not to concern itself with health and safety fears of local residents relating to its plans.
The company, which is a subsidiary of the electricity supplier, said the ‘upgrade’ is required in order to boost 4G coverage in the area for its customers – Vodafone and Eir Mobile.
It told the City Council that it “regards the protection of the health, safety and welfare of its staff and the general public as a core company value in all its activities”.
It added that the Council need only concern itself with planning issues relating to the proposal and to leave health and safety issues to ComReg, the Commission for Communications Regulation.
ESB Telecoms had sought permission to add a new platform to its ‘Five Lamps’ structure at the junction of Rahoon Road and Seamus Quirke Road, which would accommodate new antennae and dishes.
According to the company, the importance of its existing site “cannot be over emphasised” as it forms “an integral part” of ESB’s network, and that of its customers, which are Vodafone Ireland and Eir Mobile.
“For both operators, the quality of coverage, particularly 4G coverage, can be seen to fail noticeably in comparison to 2G and 3G, and this quality falls away the further the distance from the structure.
“With many developments of this nature, there may be concerns from residents about the perceived implications of the development, primarily in relation to the adverse health effects of the installation. It is ESB Telecoms’ policy to continually review and update standards in light of new developments and research findings.
“Planning authorities are urged to concern themselves with design and siting issues only and should defer any health and safety issues and their monitoring to the relevant authorities, in this instance, ComReg,” the company said in its planning application.
It added that it regularly carries out tests at its site – the last tests were in June 2019 and November 2017 – and the results were “well within the safety standards”.
There were no objections or submissions from members of the public.
In its assessment of the application, the Council referred to Government guidelines which stated that planning authorities should be primarily concerned with the appropriate location and design of telecoms structures “and do not have competence for health and safety matters in respect of telecoms infrastructure”.
The guidelines spread: “These are regulated by other codes and such matters should not be additionally regulated by the planning process,” adding that monitoring arrangements were not a matter for the Council either.
The Council said the mast had already been in place for almost 20 years, and the additional antenna would in in accordance with the setting.
Permission was approved for the extension to the mast, with a condition attached that ESB Telecom allow, subject to reasonable terms, other licensed mobile telecoms operators to co-locate their antennae onto the mast “in order to avoid the proliferation of telecoms structures”.

 

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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