A massive tree-planting project on the east side of the city could be uprooted after Galway City Council ruled it is considered to be an unauthorised development in an area with protected views.
Last month, volunteers came together to help to plant up to 1,000 trees at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ in Rosshill.
However, locals claimed that the trees would block a protected view of the sea and of Roscam Round Tower, which is an early medieval monastic site and a National Monument.
The Council subsequently issued Warning Letters in relation to the “unauthorised tree planting on lands at Rosshill Road”.
“There is a Protected View, Protected Structures and a number of National Monuments listed in the vicinity.”
The letters were served on the secretary of Seafront Farm Ltd, Mad Yoke Farm Ltd, both with addresses in Sceilig Ard on the Headford Road and the secretary of Sunmile Ltd, with an address at Mill Street.
The Council is expected to compel the owner of the land to return it to its original state.
Brian Dilleen officially opened Mad Yolk farm at the end of last month with a mass planting session of 1,000 native Oak, Hawthorn, Hazel, Birch, Rowan, Scots Pine and Crab Apple trees.
Following an internship on a small mixed enterprise farm in Sweden, the Newcastle man bought two four-acre plots in the area three years ago to set up his own chemical-free organic farm.
His plans also included a no-dig market garden, which he hopes can provide organic food for over 100 locals residents.
Galway City Council issued the Warning Letters under Section 152 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, ordering that the planting of trees cease and “discontinue any unauthorised development forthwith”.
The company secretaries who were served with the notice have been given until the middle of this month to make a submission to the local authoeriry.
The Council stated that there was a protected view, protected structures and a number of national monuments located in the vicinity of the planted land.
“In the event of you failing to comply with the terms of this warning letter, Galway City Council may, where it considers that unauthorised development has been, is being, or may be carried out, withing 12 weeks of service of this letter, issue an enforcement notice,” the letter reads.
Mr Dilleen has argued that his trees did not constitute a development and that the Council would normally ignore a case of this type.
He told the Galway City Tribune that the controversial trees had been planted in order to create a mixed species hedge which would act as a wind breaker for the farm, running parallel to the view of the sea.
“You hear 1,000 trees and it paints a certain picture,” added farm manager Joe Gray.
“We planted a Hawthorn hedgerow at the back of our second field facing the Atlantic to create a new habitat for wildlife and plug in the gaps of the existing barrier of brambles,” he said.
“Behind this we planted a windbreak of shrubs and native trees sourced from the charity ‘Trees on the Land’.
“Unfortunately – and we’re sure through misunderstanding of our aims and perhaps the wording of our Facebook event – someone from the local community complained to the Council that we were planting 1,000 trees and creating a woodland in a vicinity with a protected view.
“As was written in the Facebook event, the planned planting had taken into consideration the protected view of the nearby Round Tower and had been planned with respect to our neighbours,” Mr Gray stated.
The two men argued that their open farm would enhance the protected view of Roscam Round Tower and the sea, which they claim is currently not visible from the walkway. They also stressed that they were committed to providing a meaningful resource to the local community.
“Most of that number (of trees) made up the one hedgerow of Hawthorn and only a further 140 trees were planted for the windbreak, both in the same place that isn’t near to the view in question, which will provide our field with some relief from the wild Atlantic wind,” said Mr Gray.
“Furthermore, we looked out from the public road where this view is supposed to be, and the sea and Round Tower can’t even be seen because of an existing hedgerow.
“With our open-farm policy, we’re happy to have people come into our land which has a very good view of both. We’re sure that planting a hedge on agriculturally-zoned land is not an issue for the Council to waste time on and apologise for our part in it.”
However, Roscam-based councillor Alan Cheevers said people needed to adhere to planning laws relating to protected views and structures
“If it’s a case that there’s a protected view notice on a portion of land, that view would have to be adhered to for the locals,” he told the Galway City Tribune.
“We have to respect residents. We have laws surrounding the planning and protection of views and heritage sites, and we have to respect that and work within the confines of the law,” he added.
(Photo: Volunteers planting the trees last month at Mad Yolk Farm in Rosshill against the backdrop of Galway Bay.)
Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.
The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.
“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.
He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.
Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.
The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.
‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.
Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.
Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.
He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.
“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.
“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.
In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.
Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.
Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.
The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.
Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.
Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.
Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.
Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.