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Connacht Tribune

West coast faces floodwater crisis by end of the century

Dara Bradley

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Sea levels along the west coast of Ireland are on course to rise by as much as one metre within the next century, according to doomsday scenario outlined in new scientific research.

It means that ‘exceptional’ flood events that now occur once every 100 years, could happen every year in coastal areas of Northern Europe, such as Galway, if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.

The frightening projections by scientists take into account global warming and changes in mean sea levels, waves, tides and storm surges up to the year 2100.

The study, ‘Extreme sea levels on the rise along Europe’s coasts’ was published in Earth’s Future, an academic journal.

It contains worrying projections for areas of County Galway, such as Connemara, Ballinasloe, and Gort, as well as the city, which have all been submerged in floodwaters and battered by winter storms in recent years.

It warned that, “the North Sea region is projected to face the highest increase” in extreme sea levels with “similar” increases expected along the Atlantic coasts of Ireland and United Kingdom.

It said “considerable increases” are projected for the Norwegian, the Baltic, and the Mediterranean Sea.

“Future extreme sea levels and flood risk along European coasts will be strongly impacted by global warming. Here, we show changes in all acting components, including sea level rise, tides, waves, and storm surges, until 2100 in view of climate change.

“We find that by the end of this century the 100-year event along Europe will on average increase between 57 and 81 centimetres. The North Sea region is projected to face the highest increase, amounting to nearly one metre under a high emission scenario by 2100, followed by the Baltic Sea and Atlantic coasts of the UK and Ireland.

“Sea level rise is the main driver of the changes, but intensified climate extremes along most of northern Europe can have significant local effects. By the end of this century, five million Europeans currently under threat of a 100-year coastal flood event could be annually at risk from coastal flooding under high-end warming,” the reports’ authors said.

The study found that exceptional flooding events that used to happen on average once every century, will now happen far more frequently.

The report warned that the projected rise in extreme sea levels “constitutes a serious threat to European coastal societies.”

“Their safety and resilience depends on the effectiveness of natural and man-made coastal flood protection (including) the capacity of the coastal zone to act as a buffer and absorb ocean energy through complex wave shoaling and breaking processes.

“Taking into account flood protection standards in place and uncertainty in their probability of failure, around five million people could potentially be affected,” it said.

The present findings imply that exceptional flood events will occur “approximately every eleven years by 2050, and every three and one years by 2100,” under the worst-case scenarios.

“Hence, the five million Europeans currently at risk to be flooded by sea water once every 100 years, may be flooded on an almost annual basis by the end of this century. Some regions are projected to experience an even higher increase in the frequency of occurrence of extreme events, most notably along the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where the present day 100-year extreme sea level is projected to occur several times a year.

“Such increase in frequency of events that today are considered as exceptional will likely push existing coastal protection structures beyond their design limits, rendering a large part of Europe’s coastal zones exposed to intermittent flood hazard. These findings stress the need to timely develop and implement appropriate adaptation measures,” the report added.

In 2013, new flooding risk guidelines recommended that planners allow an extra half a metre in height on sites in coastal areas to protect against the effects of climate change.  Galway County Council was told at the time that the new guidelines are based on a ‘precautionary principle’ that a major once in a lifetime, or “one in one hundred years” flooding event will occur.

Gort and South Galway was badly hit by flooding in January 2016, as well as in 2009, when Ballinasloe was also submerged in water, causing millions of Euros worth of damage.

The city and Connemara has also endured several flooding events in the past decade.

Connacht Tribune

Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.

The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.

“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.

“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.

They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.

Travel and transport

You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:

  • to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
  • to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes, food production or care of animals

You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.

Public and private transport

You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.

Education and childcare

The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:

  • education and childcare
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
  • Economic activity and work
  • Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.

Social

Cafes and restaurants

  • All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
  • Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.

Indoor gatherings

  • All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.

Outdoor gatherings

  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.

Cultural and religious

  • All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
  • Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
  • Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.

Sport

No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:

  • non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
  • professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
  • inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors

Residential and healthcare facilities

*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).

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Connacht Tribune

Relocation homebuyers head to the west

Dara Bradley

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Clifden....popular destination.

The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a new exodus of homebuyers to relocate to the west, with remote working now a viable option for many employees.

Galway’s busiest auctioneer has noticed increased interest in properties in the city and county from workers relocating from Dublin, its commuter belt and the Midlands.

The availability of high-speed broadband, which can facilitate working from home, is a determining factor in many homebuyers’ decisions to move to the West.

But the high cost of renting remains the single biggest incentive for people to get on the property ladder, according to Niall Browne, senior sales negotiator at O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.

“People are paying such high rent that it’s the equivalent to a mortgage repayment and that’s when you buy. That’s the biggest incentive to buy – you’re not giving away dead money,” Mr Browne said.

The property market locally had quietened in the initial months of the Covid-19 lockdown – but it has been buoyant in the past two months in particular, he said.

Mr Browne suggested there was an element of pent-up demand for housing that was now being realised as the Covid lockdown restrictions focused people’s minds on their desire to purchase a home.

“We typically try to get eight to ten sales per month by private treaty, and we had 28 or 29 last month. The previous month was six and the previous month was eight. This month (July) we’re up to 26, and that’s outside of our auction,” he said.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Nursing Homes shun student nurses over Covid fears

Stephen Corrigan

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Student nurses in Galway are facing financial doom as part-time employers shun those currently on work placement in hospitals over fears they are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19.

First year nursing student at NUI Galway Ciarán Mac an tSaoir told the Connacht Tribune that this had become a particular issue for first and second year students who would traditionally take on healthcare assistant roles in nursing homes, where the fear of spreading the virus is at fever pitch.

“After semester one in first year, you are essentially qualified as a healthcare assistant and a lot of students would take that up as an option. Since Covid-19 came in, a lot of work places are fearful of cross-contamination and that’s not unjustified.

“It’s very understandable that a nursing home wouldn’t want a student who might be going between five or six clinical areas in an acute hospital to be then coming into work in the nursing home,” said Mr Mac an tSaoir.

Nursing students, for whom a large proportion of their university experience is spent on unpaid work placement, spend up to 35-hours a week in a clinical setting and so that could mean them travelling between a Covid-19-free setting of a nursing home to a respiratory word in a hospital such as UHG, he explained.

However, this wasn’t a HSE policy but rather the decision of individual care facilities who were doing their best to ensure coronavirus was kept out.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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