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Warning to salmon farmers over water extraction

Dara Bradley

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Salmon farm operators in Connemara have been warned over the illegal extraction of water from a local freshwater lake.

Warning letters have been issued to two salmon farmers operating in Kilkieran Bay following the discovery of an illegal pump and piping system, siphoning fresh water from a nearby lake.

Galway County Council has written warning letters to Bradán Beo Teo and Marine Harvest regarding the detection of the unauthorised development of a pipeline and abstraction pumping system at Loch An Mhuilinn into Cloonawilleen Bay. It is part of the Kilkieran Bay, special area of conservation (SAC).

The Council was alerted to the unauthorised development and illegal activity after local inshore fishermen noticed that water was being extracted from a trout lake at An Muileann, Gorumna Island.

Last year, an enforcement noticed was issued to Marine Harvest to dismantle a piping and pump system at nearby Loughaunore Lake.

The owner of the latest unauthorised development is not yet known but the Council has issued warning letters to Bradán Beo Teo and Marine Harvest. They were given a month to respond. The Department has indicated Marine Harvest does not own the pipes.

The aquaculture licence section of the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine has also confirmed it will investigate the matter “as a priority”.

Last year Marine Harvest said it needed to extract water from Loughaunore Lake as an emergency measure to save their salmon stock from Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD). Bathing salmon in fresh water for three hours cures the fish of AGD.

It has not yet been established when the latest pumping system and pipes were developed at An Muileann but it has been there for some months.

Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages has called for a full investigation, and for hefty penalties if it is shown that the law was broken.

“This system has been put in without planning permission and without a foreshore licence. Whoever is responsible cannot be allowed to get away with this,” said Billy Smyth, chairperson of GBASC.

“When that pump is working, millions of litres are being extracted from the lake, which is a trout lake located in an SAC. The other serious thing about this is that the citizens of Ireland have been forced to pay water charges to Irish Water for the amount of water they use. And yet these people aren’t paying a penny for all the water they are using,” he said.

Údarás Na Gaeltachta are major shareholders in Bradán Beo Teo, the company that owns the two salmon farm licences in Kilkieran Bay SAC, one of which was leased to Marine Harvest for the last two years. GBASC says Údarás has questions to answer regarding this latest development.

“Is the board of Údarás aware that a company that they are a major shareholder in, may be implicated, through their ownership of the two licences, in the operation and construction of an illegal piping and pumping system?

“We are calling for an investigation into how this can happen. Salmon farm operators who break the law, should have their licences revoked and be heavily fined, otherwise this situation will continue year after year,” added Mr Smyth.

CITY TRIBUNE

€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara

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How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan

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The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham

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Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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