Seanad debates

Monday, 26 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Aisling DolanAisling Dolan (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

As co-founder, PRO and secretary of the community group, Ballinasloe says No, we have battled for more than four years against the inappropriate location of a waste transfer station in Ballinasloe town, fighting for the health and safety of families in the second largest town in County Galway, as well as the protection of the local environment. Despite that, and the fact that close to 3,000 objections were submitted by people and families over two campaigns against the granting of a permit for this type of station, two weeks ago Galway County Council granted this permit. What does this mean? It means hundreds of ten, 15 and 20 tonne trucks coming through the heart of Ballinasloe town, past residential urban streets, playgrounds, estates and the hospital, to reach this location. What about road safety? What about air pollution? As a community group, we are reviewing our options. In 2018, we won a case in the High Court on the potential adverse impact to waterways of this construction on low lying flood planes.

How did this happen? Planning was granted in 2017 to allow this development. However, nobody in the town knew anything about it. There was no consultation with the local community. Under current planning regulations, the requirement for public notice is placement in a newspaper circulating in the area and a notice fixed to the proposed site. This is not sufficient or fit-for-purpose to ensure that local communities are aware of potentially devastating impacts to safety, health and the environment. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the local authorities need to use current methods of communication such as sponsored advertising, using social media channels or feeds. This planning permission went through with no objections submitted and yet when we built a campaign and people were made aware of it, more than 3,000 people objected. How does this stack up? There is discrimination here against people who have not been able to be informed through a newspaper advertisement. How was such a development considered without public consultation?

Today, on behalf of the people of Ballinasloe, I am calling on the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to review the outdated legislation for public notifications and to undertake an analysis of the impact of these waste facilities. The particular facility about which I am speaking today is within 2 km of built residential areas in the heart of Ballinasloe town. There is need for adequate resourcing within local authorities to review environmental impacts and a requirement for an environmental impact assessment for these types of proposed classes of development under planning, in particular waste management. This development is shocking to the town of Ballinasloe.


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