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


New air quality monitoring stations to be installed in Galway City



Two new permanent air quality monitoring stations are to be installed in Eyre Square and Briarhill, where previous temporary monitors have indicated higher levels of pollution than elsewhere in the city.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with Galway City Council will oversee the installation and monitor the readings from the machines over a 24-hour period.

The only other air quality station within the city boundaries is in Rahoon, but it is located away from the road and does not do round-the-clock measurements, according to Social Democrats Councillor Owen Hanley, who is a member of the Council’s Climate Action Monitoring Group.

“We’re lucky in Galway because we have the Atlantic wind that keeps pollution moving but the feeling is the air quality is not great because of traffic levels, but there’s no evidence to take action. This will allow us to get evidence and use that data to see if things like BusConnects improves the air quality,” he explained.

The EPA had previously installed 20 temporary air sampling units throughout the city and identified Eyre Square and Briarhill as two locations where continuous monitoring was required.

“In Eyre Square you have a lot of traffic and it’s where all the buses and coaches travel through. Briarhill is right beside Parkmore where there is a lot of commuter traffic and residents are concerned about the air quality as they’re wedged between Briarhill junction and the industrial estates.

“If there was even a three per cent modal shift from cars to buses that would have a huge impact on pollution and these stations will be able to monitor that,” said Cllr Hanley.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said the station in Rahoon has recorded good air quality in the city since it was set up a few years ago. Under new regulations, councils have to notify the EPA if particulate matter exceed allowable levels 35 times in a year.

“In 2019 the result was zero and in 2020 the result was one, indicating the air quality is very good,” he stated.

“These new stations will create a baseline of information that wouldn’t have existed before across a whole lot of different measures, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, ozone.

“This will give us baseline information that can be watched and monitored for progress as the Galway Transportation Strategy is developed.”

The station in Eyre Square is to be located in the shrubbery opposite the Hardiman Hotel while the exact location for the Briarhill machine has yet to be finalised.

“Some site inspections were carried out recently with a view to final site determination. There are multiple issues with identifying a suitable location, including parking for service personnel, crash barrier, working width of crash barrier and having enough space to place unit behind it, supplying power and the civils works that would be required.”

Both stations are expected to be operational this year.

Cllr Hanley believes it’s a very positive move. “Air quality is something we cannot take for granted and is so vital to our health. There are significant negative affects associate with polluted air quality and I hope this is the beginning of higher standards for nearby residents,” he said.

Green Pary councillor Niall Murphy said that cleaner air is vital, and air pollution has improved by 20% since 2000, which he described as “small” over a 20-year period.

He suggested that new legislation – including the local ban on smoky coal being extended nationwide – will help.

“It is due to cleaner car engine designs and to the fact that Galway introduced a smoky coal ban in 2000.

“Galway traffic causes some of the pollution, but cars are not the only culprit. On calm cold winter evenings, the air gets dirtier because the fires are on and the wind is not dispersing it. The challenge is that while the smoky coal is banned in the city it does not stop someone buying it outside of Galway City. There is also the problem of people selling it door to door, which is illegal but difficult for the local council to enforce.

“The best way to get rid of smoky coal in Galway city is a nationwide ban, making it harder for individuals or door-to-door salesmen to get their hands on it. A ban on smoky fuel is in the Program for Government and a public consultation on the legislation was recently completed. Hopefully the legislation will be in place for next winter.

“There are concerns that the ban may push up the price of heating a home leading to more fuel poverty. This concern is based on the fact that smoky coal is cheaper per kilogram than smokeless coal. However, the smokeless fuel actually gives out more heat and so is actually better value for money. So the ban will benefit our lungs and our pockets,” said Cllr Murphy.


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