Fears are growing that the Marine Institute’s plans for a test site off Spiddal could pave the way for a fish farm in Galway Bay ‘through the back door’.
Campaigners are concerned about a statutory instrument that was enacted by Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, which change licencing laws for salmon farms for research purposes.
The change to regulations, which was advertised in national newspapers this week, and which was backdated to August 26, will allow salmon farms under 50 tonnes to operate without an Environmental Impact Assessment. Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages said the change, “seems to be an attempt by Minister Creed to remove a major obstacle which would have prevented the Marine Institute getting their lease application in Spiddal sanctioned”.
The campaign group’s chairman, Billy Smyth, said: “We were right to be concerned about the Marine Institutes salmon farming plans for the Galway Bay Test Site at Spiddal. This new statutory instrument proves that we weren’t scare mongering when we said that the Marine Institute were going to allow salmon farms at the site under the guise of research.”
Last month, GBASC indicated it would be opposing plans for a lease for the test site at Spiddal.
The group said Minister Creed’s signing into law the statutory instrument confirms their suspicions that the test site could be used for salmon farming.
Mr Smyth said: “It would be a total waste of taxpayers’ money if the Marine Institute were to set up farmed salmon research stations in Irish waters, as the Norwegians have being carrying out similar research for the last 40 years to try to find out how to environmentally and sustainably farm salmon in open sea cages, and so far they have failed. Wild salmon in Norwegian rivers that flow into Fjords and bays that contain salmon farms are nearly extinct from disease, infestations of sea lice and escapees from salmon farms. Let the Marine Institute just ask the Norwegians for the results of their research and save money.
“It is time that a public inquiry is conducted into the failed salmon farming industry in this country to determine how an industry that employs directly, less than 150 people can acquire tens of millions of euro in State supports for little return, while our hospitals are bursting at the seams and thousands are homeless for the want of funding.”
The Marine institute’s original application stated it was seeking permission to deploy three turbines of 60 metres in height.
However, it has since corrected its application and insists that the “devices” will be half that height.
“A prototype floating wind turbine being tested on the site could have a blade tip at maximum 35m above sea level while wave energy converters would be up to 5m above sea level,” it said. It has applied for a 35-years lease, and the wind turbines will be on site “intermittently”.
The application states that there will be a limit of three ocean energy test devices deployed at any one time for a period of testing “no greater than 18 months”.
West has lower cancer survival rates than rest
Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.
A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.
For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.
These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.
“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.
In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.
Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.
Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races
On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.
But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.
“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”
We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.
Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.
To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.
He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.
Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.
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.”