Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Former city dumps will not be opened for mining



Any proposal to open up the former dumps at South Park and the Riverside for the recovery of valuable materials would be a non-runner – however, Carrowbrowne would be a location that could warrant further investigation if national policy changed.

That’s the view of the Galway City Council in response to a suggestion by Environment Minister Denis Naughten at a waste industry seminar that landfill mining applications were likely.

The number of landfill sites still receiving waste is down from 25 in 2010 to just six nationally, one of them the recently reopened site in Kilconnell in East Galway.

The former Greenstar-operated dump, which closed when the company went into receivership, was reopened by Galway County Council for a period of two years until the end of 2018. It will be taking in 100,000 tons of waste each year from some of the major waste companies in the county and will then close. The Council will then implement an aftercare service over the following 30 years.

When unearthing the unsorted domestic and commercial waste in a landfill, mining could uncover a treasure trove of aluminium, plastic and scrap metal while also reclaiming scarce urban land for development, Minister Naughten said.

“As a result of our throwaway culture, it would not surprise me, as Minister for Natural Resources and Exploration, that we could soon see applications by mining companies to reopen landfills to recover valuable natural resources that we just threw away in the past,” he stated.

The Environment Protection Agency, which is the licencing authority for current and former landfills, said it had closely examined a detailed study in 2013 on the potential of landfill mining in Scotland.

“From an environmental perspective, the potential environmental impact of any such proposal would have to be assessed in detail and, if the activity was approved, all regulatory and environmental protection requirements put in place, before such an operation would commence,” the agency told the Irish Examiner.

The EPA has been following developments in Belgium, where there is a plan to mine the Remo Milieubeheer NV landfill, which received 16 million tonnes of municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste from the 1970s onwards.

The project aims to recover materials for recycling and to capture and generate 75 MW to 100mw of electricity from the residual waste by with gasification technology.

There has been no landfill operating in the city for the past 15 years. The last was one was in Carrowbrowne on the Headford Road, which has been filled in with organic material and covered over with soil and grass. A site adjacent to it has been used as a composting facility, first by Galway City Council and then Barna Waste.

South Park has not been used as a dump for over 50 years while the landfill between the Tuam Road and Bothar na dTreabh – where the Riverside is now a popular residential area – is but a distant memory, according to a spokesman for Galway City Council.

“There would not be any, any suggestion of going back into South Park and reclaiming metal,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

“The landfill at the Riverside has been built over so that’s a non-runner. We are intrigued by the suggestion by Minister Naughten about landfill mining. There would have to be an enormous amount of research and safeguards put into it. Carrowbrowne is constantly being monitored under licence from the EPA and levels taken by our staff to ensure it is safe.”

Decommissioned dumps are expensive to both monitor and maintain because of the health risks posed by gas emissions and water pollution.

In 2012 the Scottish Government, via Zero Waste Scotland, commissioned Ricardo-AEA to undertake a scoping study on the feasibility and viability of landfill mining and reclamation in Scotland.

Just 60 documented projects have been undertaken worldwide since the first recorded project in Israel in the 1950s.

A cloud has hung over South Park on the edge of Galway Bay since 2006 when it was closed by the City Council after the chance discovery of highly toxic poisons contaminating the soil due to a historic dump. Galway City Council re-opened the park in May 2012 and took away the danger signs warning of hazardous materials following the all clear from the Health Service Executive (HSE) without any remediation works being completed.


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

Continue Reading


Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

Continue Reading


Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

Continue Reading