Kinincha River Walk

Disclaimer : The information here is purely to raise awareness of what we have around Gort and South Galway.   Any river walk proposal would require close consultation with many people across the community – landowners, residents, as well as Galway County council etc. 🙂

Kinincha River Walk

The Galway County Council  2013-2019 Gort Local area plan [1] outlines an accessible network of greenway linkages and amenities through the town. This includes an “amenity walking circular route along the Kinincha Road returning via the river bank to George’s Street. The network will also link together community facilities, amenities and built heritage features in the Plan Area and surrounding areas. Galway County Council will also seek to promote the functioning of greenway networks as wildlife corridors and habitats to enhance biodiversity and the natural environment.”

Here is a map from the Gort Local Area Plan showing the riverwalk highlighted in the green dashed line.

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Unfortunately, this plan has been delayed for another 5 years so it’s time to put some focus and get the wheels turning on this and demand its delivery. First, lets take a closer look at this walk.

Where is Kinincha?

The Kinincha road is a road running north of Gort Town down by Lidl.  It’s really more of a country laneway rather than a normal road and is generally considered a dead end even though you can navigate up to Ballynamantan by foot (or tractor) .

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So where in Kinincha?  It barely exists now but it seemed to be a busy enough area 150 years ago.   In 1837 OS maps it looked like the village had both a south and north entrance, several dwellings as well as a tuck mill across the river on the Lavally side.

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Tuck mills were small mills in which woollen cloth, woven on a cottage hand loom was finished by felting and scoured to cleanse it of oil and grease, and to promote the maximum degree of shrinkage to render the cloth fit for market. [2] We also see a weir across the river guiding it into the tuck Mill.  Other features here are caves, a fort and the Lavallylisheen burial ground.

In a more recent OS map (1888-1913) the tuck mill is replaced by a corn mill as well as a newly build Corn Kiln. You can see on the diagram below that  the river was diverted using a weir toward the Corn Mill.

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Old Kinincha, showing roads for Southen Access and Northern access. Source Geohive.

Today there are ruins of only a few buildings and while the Corn Kiln still stands, the weir and mill are no longer to be seen.  It may be that when Yeats was building the mill at Ballylee, he brought the stone from the Mill = Rafferty, the Mill builder, reported that he ‘had two horses one day drawing stone from Kenischa Mill’ which could be referring to this particular mill. [3]

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There is one main ruin on the west side of the river but there are still plenty of foundations of buildings in the area.

River Walk

The map below shows outline of a potential river walk (with some different options). The walk is out the Kinincha Road, and turn east across to old Kinincha village, across the river and then in the Pound Road or along the river bank into Georges St.

GortRiverWalkOverview

While the village is no more, the outline of the old access roads are still there but are really only farmland access points at this stage. The Gort Local Area plan indicates following the old southern access route but there is also a northern access route that could be used. (Note the North access route runs about 200m through lands owned by Galway County Council leaving a relatively small hop towards the river so they are in control of this aspect)

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The old access route (southern) to Kinincha

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The site of the old Weir (the Corn Kiln is hidden behind the trees in the background)

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Site of the old weir

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The return route along the Pound road

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The river winding its way back to Gort. The walking route could be along the Pound road and river bank

The return can take in sections of the Pound road and as we near the town we could walk back via the river bank (to Aldi) or along the Pound road.

Another interesting thing to note is that that most of the land left of the river above belongs to Galway County Council and as this river walk is one of their own objectives in Gort Local Area Plan, the should be in a very good position to enable this development.

Overall this walk would be a beautiful 40 minute loop from Gort Town Centre.

But what if it floods?

This was a question asked in Galway 2020 ‘My Space’ meeting. I think that safety has to be considered on any river walk especially as the river gets stronger in the winter and the design of the river walk has to consider this. I don’t think there would be an issue to close off access during severe flooding. If we think about what happens around our Turloughs – Coole Lake floods and access is restricted (naturally) and people are used to this. The riverwalk in Thoor Ballylee is closed during flooding and people simply don’t try and walk the trail! Some common sense and safety consciousness can be put to practice here and ensure that we have a safe river walk.

Community Threat

This amenity is being threatened by the proposed development of a BioGas Plant. I won’t go into any more detail here but there is plenty in a previous post : A vision for Gort – The Slurry Capital of Ireland?

As the Kinincha Road hasn’t much use – it has a big issue with people dumping rubbish there.  Upgrading this to an amenity network and monitoring access would help to counter this.  However, something still needs to be done in the meantime.

Realizing the vision

This river walk shown here is only concept – there are several options to explore. There needs to be more public and landowner engagement to assess its feasibility but there is little doubt that this would give us a great river walk in South Galway! What is particularly interesting is that for the old northern access route, goes through Galway County Council lands.

We first need to develop a detailed plan for this walk. We need to get this process kick-started and driven by people passionate about getting a river walk! Please help raise awarness of this and help us get those wheels in motion.

This walk may be highlighted and promoated as part of Galway 2020 – Small Town Big ideas – with an event in November and in Spring.

For now, lets take a tour:)

I’m sure there are plenty of stories regarding Kinincha, the mills etc.

Please share if you have any!

Thanks,

David Murray

 

References :

  1. 2013-2019 Gort Local area plan 
  2. https://heritage.galwaycommunityheritage.org/content/topics/galways-gastronomic-heritage/self-sufficiency/mills/mills
  3. The Living Stream : Essays in Memory of A. Norman Jeffares 1920-2005,
  4. Kinicha Old Maps, Geohive  – http://bit.ly/2O3gdCe
  5. Corn Kiln : https://goo.gl/maps/6Qg4uknRrF62
  6. Old Northern Access : https://goo.gl/maps/yvnfAAFE3C72
  7. Old Southern Access : https://goo.gl/maps/fiHaquLtMSm

 

 

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Trail 1 : Gort’s Golden Mile

GortsGoldenMile

As mentioned previously, Gort was a winner of the Golden Mile competition run by Galway County Council and Galway Rural Development. The Golden Mile of Galway Competition is organised by Galway County Council, Galway Rural Development, Forum Connemara, Meitheal Forbarta na Gaeltachta, Comhdhail Oileáin na hEireann and Galway County Heritage Forum with the support of the farming organisations.

The prize was under the category of  of ‘The Mile showing the Most Potential’.  Sr de Lourdes Fahy with the help of Adrian Feeney, developed the concept and collected the award  (represented the Burren Lowlands Group). They both acknowledged the work carried out by many people in order to achieve this award including Gort No Name Club, Margaret Rochford Community Employment Programme, Pat Finn from Gateway/Galway County Council, Dermot Gillespie, the local farmers, Fergal Fahy, Gort Local Engineer and Gort Gardaí.

The Gort Golden Mile begins in the townland of Ballynamantan and ends in Kinincha and is described by Adrian as follows:

“Views stretch across the countryside into Gort lowlands and across to the Slieve Aughty Mountains. The mid section of the mile consists of a green road. Hedgerow birds are abundant all along the road. A beautiful thatched cottage (Hallinan’s house) can be seen on the roadside; this was the miller’s house in the olden days. A lot of work was done to remove the abundance of litter. The rest of the route into Gort is currently being cleaned up and the Burren Lowlands Group would like to appeal to the public to keep a vigilant eye out for illegal dumping. This is a beautiful road that can be utilised by all members of the community,” he said.

Route

The road stretches from Kinincha to Ballynamantan and provides an alternative access to Coole Park and a loop (4.5km/2.8 miles)  can be completed back into Gort Town.

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A 2.8 mile loop, starting out in Kinincha, via Ballynamantan and out to the Galway road, contains Gort’s Golden Mile – ‘The Mile with the most potential’

Here is a visual tour of the walk!

Realising the Potential

As the winner for the ‘Mile showing the Most Potential‘ – how could this be realised? Firstly, this should be developed as an amenity trail, and not really developed for vehicles (the exception is of course that locals farmer have local access).  Overall to bring the trail to a good level there may not be much development required here but we are probably talking about the following:

  1. The Kinincha road needs a clean up and I’m not just talking rubbish – but also there’s old construction material, cement, blocks that needs to be removed.
  2. The road close to Ballynamantan lake is a bit uneven and can get muddy.
  3. Some seating overlooking the river
  4. Permanent signage along the trail (and from Gort Square) to show people the way.

I’ve talked to some of the locals along the way who were very open to this being developed as an amenity trail.

A second aspect to realising its potential is for people to actually use this.  Karen O’ Neill has been inviting people to come on the trail every Thursday Evening, 7pm from LIDL and the numbers are growing.  Check out the event

 

This is already a beautiful trail and with minimal investment it can be made to realize its potential. Take a walk and see what’s causing all the buzz!  (Send back some pictures!)

David Murray

ps: You can also seem some more picutres of this trail in Katleen Bell-Bonjean’s blog at workinglivingtravellinginireland.com

 

 

Gorgeous Gort’s Greenways – Bringing back the river

The South Galway river system is a unique and magical natural wonder.  There are not many places in the world where the rivers appear and disappear so sporadically leading to elements such as swallow holes, rise and turloughs.

One of three main rivers in the Slieve Aughty western slopes, the Gort river starts off as the Owendalulleegh in the peaks of the Slieve Aughty Mountains and it winds its way down the mountain and into Lough cutra.

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The Owendalulleegh river in Derrybrien East (David Murray)

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The Owendalulleegh river further downstream in Derrybrien South (David Murray)

It takes on its first alias as it leaves Lough Cutra at Russaun as the Beagh River where it flows flows over 4km and disappears into the punchpowel area- a massive imposing cavern.

It briefly makes an appearance for about 150m as the Blackwater river before it sinks underground again and flows west into the earth for 1/2 km.  It reappears in again as the Cannahowana (Head of the river) river

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The Cannahowna River that flows into Gort (David Murray)

This river then flows in towards Gort Town

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From Cannahowna toward Gort Town (Background) (David Murray)

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Gort Fiver flowing behind Supervalu

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Flowing past the convent (David Murray)

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Gort river flowing under the bridge (David Murray)

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Through Gort  (David Murray)

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Past Aldi…

It then flows out toward Lavally, Castletown where it flows past Castletown castle and goes underground to Kiltartan and again underground to Coole and once again undergrouund to Kinvara bay.

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The ‘Castletown’ river then flows past the castle and then flows underground

Gort River Walks – Greenways

While this river flows through Gort – there are no real amenities to access it and enjoy it. There are no real picnic spots.  There are no walks along the river.  The Gort river offers significant safe access potential around the town and the residents of Gort and South Galway would really benefit from amenities around the river and be able to stroll through them and take in the beauty.

“Walking along the meandering and modest Castlebar river evokes the happiest of childhood memories for me and I thank it for having provided us with so many watery backdrops to our young , playful imagination,” David Staunton, Castlebar. [1]

This type of a walk would also draw more tourists to town. especially with links to Coole Park, Garryland, Kilmacduagh and Ballylee- More tourism equates to more jobs for the towns and more value for the town.

If you want to see the potential of what a public river amenity in Gort could like – What about this then? The convent gardens show the potential of what can be done around the river.

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The Convent Garden Gort

Decades in thought

River walks in Gort have been talked about for decades. Over 30 years ago, Church Street residents, including Damien McGrath and Josie McInerney sketched a vision of a river walk a picnic/family area close to laneway behind Supervalu and then expanding a walkway both north into bridge Street and south toward Big Hopes swimming area.

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Could we mirror the beautiful Convent park to the left hand side of the river?

Michael O’Grady also mentioned that 15-20 years ago,  having a walking, cycle path along the river was factored into many of the developments along they way (Supvervalu, Convent  development, Aldi) etc.

There is also potential on the other side of the river and linkage to Courtney’s Lane and up to the Lady Gregory hotel, Playground etc.

Many locals have also spoken about walks out Kinincha road and Pounds roads and beautiful (and long) walks/cycle paths crossing the river close to the Childrens graveyard also.

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A snapshot of the potential river walk between Kinincha and the Pound Road (With some of Gort’s Wild Swans!)

Sr. de Lourdes Fahy and Adrian Feeney have highlighted a wonderful walk which has becomes Gort’s Golden Mile, which won the Golden Mile competition run by Galway County Council and Galway Rural Development. This route is out the Kinincha road, by Gort River, swinging left into Ballynamantan and coming back out the Galway road the Gort side of the Coole Park Entrance.  Adrian Feeney highlighted the merits of Gort’s Golden Mile;

“Views stretch across the countryside into Gort lowlands and across to the Sliabh Aughty Mountains. The mid section of the mile consists of a green road. Hedgerow birds are abundant all along the road. A beautiful thatched cottage (Hallinan’s house) can be seen on the roadside; this was the miller’s house in the olden days. This is a beautiful road that can be utilised by all members of the community,” he said.

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Gorts Golden Mile – The route through Gort’s Golden Mile, along Gort River,  with Slieve Aughty Mountains in background and Ballynamantan lake in foreground

The Burren Lowlands group also has been looking into the potential of river walks in Gort and may facilitate their progress.

This list of routes could go on and on, as we cover more and more of South Galway.   There are some wonderful walks, and  cycle routes emerging and we’d like people to share their visions of some South Galway potential projects!

Current Plans (?)

The Galway County Countil  2013-2019 Gort Local area plan outlines accessible network of greenway linkages and amenities through the town. Here is the zoning (in Green) for these amenities and as Michael O’ Grady mentioned, many of the developments over the past 20 years may have had to leave provision in for these ammenties.

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Zoning in Gort – The Green in the centre is the Ammen

Objective CF9 – Amenity Network (refer to Maps 2A/2B)

“Support the establishment of an accessible network of greenway linkages and amenities that provide safe and attractive circulation routes for pedestrians and cyclists for the enjoyment and recreational use of the entire community. This network will include an amenity walking circular route along the Kinincha Road returning via the river bank to George‟s Street. The network will also link together community facilities, amenities and built heritage features in the Plan Area and surrounding areas. Galway County Council will also seek to promote the functioning of greenway networks as wildlife corridors and habitats to enhance biodiversity and the natural environment.”

Objective CF10 – Linear Park along the Cannahowna/Gort River (refer to Maps 2A/2B)

“Ensure that any development of lands along the Cannahowna/Gort River which may incorporate a linear park and amenity walkway is designed to avoid lands that are identified in flood risk areas associated with the river. The existing river, riparian vegetation and nearby tree lines should be retained as part of the park and any new development along the river will be required to be compatible with the aim of achieving good ecological status for the Cannahowna/Gort River as well as having a positive relationship with the park, including high quality streetscapes, overlooking development and active/responsive ground floor uses, where appropriate. This will include the lands zoned Open Space (OS) both north and south of the Gort Bridge and Town Centre (C1) located to the north and south of the Gort River in the vicinity of the Pound/Kinincha Roads and in adjacent to the Gort Railway station.”

What’s the plan then?  Galway County council seem to have have a good vision here for Gort w.r.t. the amenities – but where are with the 6 year objecives? how far have we progressed? 2019 is just around the corner!

Not only does the detailed plan for these amenities not exist – These amenities are now being threathen

Drowning the vision

There has been zero progress on the development of these Greenways/Amenities and in the past few months we have already seen this vision potentially under attack from misaligned proposed industrial development and vested interest.  The proposed building of a massive Biogas plant, that would be accessed from Gort would potentially bring 121 Heavy-Goods-Vehicles (Tankers) in through Gort town and contradicts the stated objectives of “safe and attractive circulation routes for pedestrians and cyclists” outlined in the Local Areal Plan.  (See –   A vision for Gort – The Slurry Capital of Ireland?)

The proposed development plan contradicts so many other objectives of the plan that Galway County Council, through the inital stages of approvals are tettering this plan over a garbage bin.  Only in the coming months will we see if they actually throw it in.

Will the overall amenity network/greenway linkages vision be threatened? Will Galway County Council be open to other developments that threaten this potential of these greenway linkages?

There are also concerns on how illegal dumping is being handled in some of these areas.

Action

Probably because of these threats, in recent weeks, I’ve never heard as many echos of Gort river walks, Greenways etc. and it is gaining a lot of momentum and therefore potential.  It’s through positive action that we can help protect and realize this vision of a several wonderful amenities for Gort and South Galway

  • Highlight awareness of the wonderful natural resource that surrounds us in South Galway
  • Organise groups, get support from local community and sketch out concept proposals – Look for some quick wins!
  • Do a Call-to-Action from our elected representatives – County Councillors,TDs and Galway County Council –  Get greenways for Gorgeous Gort!

The aim of this blog is to help raise awareness of the potential of a truly Gorgeous Gort and  help you to keep you informed of this progress as this vision is realised!

Thanks,

David Murray

Please share, leave a comment or join the ‘South Galway Vision’ Facebook page.  Please send on feedback, corrections etc snd I can amend the blog

References :

A vision for Gort – The Slurry Capital of Ireland?

I attended a public meeting last week (11th May 2018) where a local committee Gort Bio Gas Concern Group organised a public meeting to raise awareness of the impact of a proposed biogas plant in Gort.  The committee gave a professional presentation about their concerned and as people started to comment, the following was a recurring evolution of thought.

  1. Inital Optimism : When I first heard about the Biogas and renewable energy plant I thought – that’s interesting and positive and maybe it will be good for Gort and South Galway
  2. Disbelief : Now that I’ve heard the facts – this would be a disaster!
  3. Anger: Why is this being pushed into Gort! This is not the vision I have for Gort!

That word stuck in my head – Vision;  Many people mentioned it directly or alluded to it and it was clear that people have a vision of a better Gort . And it was clear that people are passionate about that vision – because when it was threatened – There was a strong defense!

Let’s quickly explore the threat!

The Biogas Plant

To put it simply the proposed Gort BioGas Plant is a mega plant for producing BioGas (CO2 and methane) and fertilizer from animal manure and other waste.  It’s a renewable energy and investing in projects such as these will help us meet our EU environmental targets.  Heavy Goods vehicles (HGV)/Tankers will ferry in animal manure and other waste and ferry out C02 and Methane)

The key issues with the proposed plant is:

  • Its scale and that fact that these HGVS will have to come into the town to deliver and distribute the material
  • The lack of alignment with Gort Local Area Plan
  • The health safety and Environment Impact of the plant
  • An amateurish Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR)

 

Scale

This is a mega-plant – It covers over 22 acres. It will have its own unique smell and Gort will get its first flame plume and it will be noisy. The stacks are 22m high and with a flame, it will be close to height of Gort Church!

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There will be 12 big tanks to hold the biogas materials again to scale:

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This plant would be one of the biggest of its kind in Ireland – making Gort the Slurry Capital of Ireland!

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Location

The proposed plant is just 10m for Gort River which essentially connects to the key south Galway natural parks, environments, Special Areas of Conservation(5) and Specially protected areas (2)

The plant will down the Kinincha road which means that HGVs will be coming in through the town. Either from Motorway or Loughrea Rd, Ennis Rd or Tubber Rd. map1

Operation

  • This plant will operate 24/7 for 50 weeks of the year and will be closed for a 2 week maintenance period.
  • When  fully operational will have 20 staff.
  • Material will be delivered/distributed from 7am to 6pm, 7 days a week.

Traffic

 

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Sample Slurry Tanker

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Sample CO2 Tanker

How Much?

Over 95,000 tonnes of slurry and waste will be delivered and over 150,000 tonnes of digestive (fertiliser) will be distributed.  CO2 and biomethane will also need to be distributed. This following table outlines the estimated daily maximum HGV loads.

traffic

If you were standing a LIDL throughout the day then a HGV/Tanker would pass you 242 (121*2) times a day on average one every 2 minutes 43 seconds.

That’s the average and unfortunately you can’t plan for even traffic so we can assume that at some parts of the day – it’s a truck a minute! Also the numbers are not rules they are estimates and the estimates can be wrong.

From where?

The plan assumes (incorrectly) that traffic will come in off the motorway and avoid centre of town.  For instance, take a journey from a pig farm in Tipperary (Borris Pedigree Pigs Ltd, Inane Roscrea Co. Tipperary)

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The fastest time shown is 1 hr 20 minutes but is 136km. The shortest route (secondary routes) is 1hr 22 minutes but is only 83.8km from the proposed site so in commercial terms this could be the most efficient and will bring the HGV through Gort Town Centre

  • Pigs Ireland, Dunsallagh West Miltown Malbay V95 W0F2 Co. Clare : Shortest route = 53 km direct to Crowe St
  • Blueball Pig Farm, Tullamore co. Offaly : Shortest Route 104km direct to Crowe Street (From Loughrea road) -132km by motorway
  • Sharragh Pig Farm, Sharragh Co Tipperary: 63km, 1hr 5mins.

The road through Derrybrien to could become the Slurry Super Highway.

Road Safety Audit

As part of the impact assessment, a road safety audit has to be completed (Traffic counts, number of previous collisions etc) –  however, the report is factually incorrect. It states that only one collision resulting in a minor injury was reported on the R380 (Formally N18)  in 2007. However a 30 second check (Thank to Bryan Brennan on the tip!) on the actual database referenced  http://www.rsa.ie/RSA/Road-Safety/Our-Research/Collision-Statistics/Ireland-Road-Collisions/ tells a different story with just on the R380

  • 1 collision with 1 Fatality
  • 2 collisions with 3 serious casualties
  • 11 Collisions with minor accidents

And these are supposed to be the experts that are compiling these reports!

Lack of Alignment with Gort Local Area Plan

Galway County Council have developed the Gort Local Area Plan (LAP) 2013-2019, a visionary document that outlines a strategy for development ( http://www.galway.ie/en/media/Gort%20Local%20Area%20Plan%202013-2019.pdf) .  It is a land use plan and overall strategy for the development of Gort over the period 2013-2019. In general, it helps to guide the local authority on how to plan for suggested form of development to ensure it will be compatible with the policies and objectives for the specific zones.

The proposed site is not in the Local Area Plan and is currently zoned for agricultural use and therefore it not compatible with the LAP.

The site however does have an impact on Gort’s objectives as it brings traffic to within 160m of the town centre and impacts directly on objectives. The following is a reasonable assessment on how the proposed Biogas plant impacts the Gort LAP Strategy.

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Trampling over the plan e.g. Tourism

THe LAP States

“Tourism is an important element of Gort‟s local economy and is a sector that has the potential for further growth. The cultural, built and natural heritage of the town and significant local tourist amenities such as Coole Park, Thoor Ballylee, Kilmacduagh monastic settlement and the town‟s proximity to the Burren are important tourist attractions and opportunities for further tourism development, which in turn can help to ensure the appropriate management and protection of Gort‟s local heritage and amenities.”

And it rightly captures this as part of the Economic Objective ED4:

Tourism Development (refer to Maps 2A/2B) Encourage and facilitate the sustainable development of the tourism potential of Gort and its environs in a manner that respects, builds on, protects and enhances the cultural, built and natural heritage of the town and the local amenities within the Plan Area. Key projects and initiatives that will be supported will include:

  1. Support the sustainable development of a river walkway and a linear park including recreational facilities and activities that will benefit the local community and visitors to the area and enhance the tourism infrastructure in an environmentally sustainable manner that recognises the Water Framework Directive, water quality and Natura 2000 conservation management objectives for the Coole-Garryland Complex and associated protected species including otter and bat species.
  2. Investigate the provision of a tourist/information centre within the town centre.

Objective TI 24– Walkways (refer to Specific Objectives Maps 2A/2B) Provide a walkway along the Cannahowna/Gort River including the Kinincha and Pound Road in a sustainable manner where possible. Regard should be had to the protection of Otters and Otter breeding sites and resting places along the proposed river walk.

The maps show a Riverwalk titled ‘Provide a walkway along the Kinincha and Pound Road’

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Brilliant plan!  …. but why are we then looking at slapping a massive Biogas plant there – this completely contradicts the objectives!

Oh and here are two more to note:

  • Objective TI4 – Walking : Facilitate the improvement of the pedestrian environment and network so that it is safe and accessible to all through the provision of the necessary infrastructure such as footpaths, lighting, pedestrian crossings, traffic calmed streets etc. New developments shall promote and prioritise walking, shall be permeable, adequately linked and connected to neighbouring areas, the town centre and train station, recreational, educational and employment destinations and shall adhere to the principles contained within the national policy document Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Transport Future – A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020 (and any updated/superseding document). Galway County Council will ensure that new lighting in sensitive areas, such as close to water-bodies or stands of broadleaved trees, will be sensitively designed so as to avoid impacts on foraging bats and other nocturnal wildlife.

Comment : Proposed Biogas plant is a new development that will not promote or prioritise walking. It will detract from it and as such is at odds with this objective.

  • Objective TI5 – Cycling Facilitate the improvement of the cycling environment and network so that it is safe and accessible through adequate traffic management and the provision of the necessary infrastructure, such as surface treatment, junction treatment, traffic calmed streets, cycle track/s, cycle lane/s, lighting, road crossings, etc. New developments shall promote and prioritise cycling, shall be permeable, adequately linked and connected to neighbouring areas, the town centre and train station, recreational, educational and employment destinations and shall adhere to the principles contained within the national policy documents Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Transport Future – A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020 and the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009-2020 (and any updated/superseding documents).

Comment : Proposed Biogas plant is a new development that will not promote or prioritise cycling. It will detract from it and as such is at odds with this objective

Health , Safety and Environment Impact

Hazardous Material

A plant this size handles a significant amount of bio-hazardous waste – cattle slurry – pig slurry (phew!) and other waste – you can dream the worst case scenario here – from mouldy bread to blood!  It also produces Hydrogen Sulphide, Ammonia and other toxic substances which are extremely noxious. These can contaminate the air and be potentially washed into the water-courses.  Some of the dangers are explained here.

Explosions : Methane, approximately 60% of biogas, forms explosive mixtures in air. If biogas is diluted between 10% and 30% with air, there is an explosion hazard.

Asphyxiation  : Asphyxiation from biogas is a concern in an enclosed space where manure is stored. Even open-topped manure pits can generate methane at a sufficient rate to push out the air above the manure and render the space oxygen-deficient. Guidelines are never enter a facility where manure is stored or where there is a suspected biogas leak as natural ventilation cannot be trusted to dilute the explosion hazard sufficiently.

Disease : Animal manure contains bacteria, viruses and, possibly, parasites. It is recommended to keep the digester facility clean to reduce disease hazards as well as the spread of odors and fly populations in the digester facility.

Traffic

An estimated 242 HGV one-way journeys will be made through Gort in an 11 hour period and the Impact assessment report (EIAR) states under ‘Traffic and transport’ section “no obvious preliminary issues identified” – Not, I’m not making this up – it actually says that!

Environment

This will no doubt be the nail in the coffin of this plan.  The proposed plant is just 10m from Gort river and if you’ve read report on the SouthGalwayFlood blog it means that this is directly connected with Kiltartan river, Coole Park, Caherglassaun, Cahermore and Galway bay!  Their EIAR does not address this correctly.

It even quotes if there was an accident that “any such events, although extremely unlikely, would result in impacts … that have the potential to be catastrophic!”

These type of impact assessments have been wrong before – South Galway has already suffered an environmental disaster associated with clean renewable energy with the Derrybrien Windfarm landslide, and this has the potential to be much worse than that!

Flooding

To be clear – the site itself has never flooded, however, the only access road to the proposed development has a history of flooding. According to the Gort CFRAM report ‘the extent of the 2009 flooding was primarily located with the two main roads affected being Crowe Street and Kinincha Road. The Kinincha Road also flooded in 2009 and is modelled as flooding slightly in the 10% design event and much more extensively in larger design events.

The EIAR states that  there is potential for the site to be completely severed based on CFRAM report.  However the CFRAM report also states on its calculations….

  • To reduce uncertainty a model incorporating groundwater and surface flows may be required, however this would present significant technical challenges and is beyond the scope of the current work.
  • How well this translates from the calibration to design events is unknown, leading to low confidence in the design event flood outlines downstream of Gort Bridge.

And yes, the Biogas Plant is downstream of Gort.  In other words the flooding estimate are useless without the proper modelling.

These stated limitations triggers the precautionary principle under which states there must be clear impact assessment and if you can’t prove there is no impact, assume there is.  Therefore this plan unacceptable.

Environmental Report

Where to start – this is full of mistakes, misguidance, omissions, incorrect assumptions and just bad research.

  • There is a lot of incorrect detail on SACs, SPAS and connectivity to the site. They leave out some SPAs/SACs
  • Traffic – They just analysed traffic on 1 day – Some Tue in Feb I think! The report contradicts itself on traffic numbers.
  • They make incorrect assumptions around use of M18 as being the most efficient way to deliver foodstuffs.
  • The journey times and durations are incorrect
  • Incorrect assumptions made on flooding on the back of the CFRAM report
  • Based on the above factors the Site justification is flawed
  • Incorrect staffing levels
  • It assumes ‘former activity at the site’ was ok (meat plant) and compares it favorably  against this although it’s 5 times bigger with 20x more traffic.
  • It doesn’t mention alignment with Gort Local Area plan

 

Public Representatives

Finally we get to our public representatives!  Oh – this is a strange one.  For whatever reasons, our County Councillors have come out vehemently in support of this or are sitting on the fence. According to Councillor Gerry Finnerty, he reported in the Connacht Tribune:

“There is very little negativity to this proposal in Gort. As far as I am concerned it is a very acceptable and safe development for the town that would provide a major economic boost.  It is a major investment in the town and there are no major objections to it in Gort.

He also stated on the public information night that he talked to lots of people about this.

One quote back on this was “Very sad local reps did not inform people..listen to people and had a word”  

This proposed biogas plant makes toilet-paper of the Gort Local Area Plan so why are our County Councillors not at least coming out in defence of it – but rather appear mildly or full supportive of it? Am I missing something?

I’m not here to beat up on our County Councillors but while they are in focus it would be interesting to get an update on how far Galway County Council is with its 2013-2019 objective TI24 – The proposed riverwalk? Please ask them if you see them  🙂

I would like to thank our real public representatives on the night – the Gort Biogas concerned citizens committee – (Karen O Neill, Kieran O Donnell, Bryan Brennan, Pierce Counahan, Brent Mostert) ye did a great job bring the awareness of this potential disaster to light.

What next ?

Nothing else for it .. Please raise objections in writing  to Galway County Council before 29th May! There is a clinic on objecting in Gort this evening 7-9 in Sullivans hotel.

 

Not our vision

A final point is that many people in that public meeting town indicated that Gort as part of a South Galway Slurry Centre is not the vision that many people have for South Galway.

We live in a beautiful area in South Galway, we have great people in Gort and with the right combined vision – there is huge potential to make Gort an even more wonderful place to live! We also have to protect it from this type of nonsense.

David Murray

 

A vision for South Galway

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Kilmacduagh at Sunset : David Murray

Hello!  This blog site has been triggered by a series of unfortunate events (some of which  will soon become apparent ) and so it’s time to get it going.

We live in a beautiful part of the world and if you are from or living in South Galway you can probably recognise that there is such potential to develop this place even more.  From creating better places to work, to shop,  to eat , to adding more recreational activities.

I’ve heard people talking about this a lot in the past two weeks and realise that many people have vibrant but different visions for Gort – so maybe we can put these down and see what resonates.  Also it will help us identify what is NOT a vision for Gort. (you’ll see in the upcoming blog!)

This is where will hopefully can  share some aspects of what we want to see long  or short term in our communities.

regards,

David Murray