Block on Rossaveal Harbour work after court challenge deemed ‘ludicrious’

A recent directive by Galway County Council to halt the nearly completed work on Rossaveal Harbour, following a High Court challenge by the Cork-based environmental group, Wild Ireland Defence CLG, has been criticised by European election candidate Senator Lisa Chambers.

The group brought the challenge against the extension of planning permission for the harbour’s expansion which it is hoped will see it become a key part of the infrastructural process for the offshore renewable energy industry. Consequently, work was halted on the project in the last few days.

“The development of our ports and harbours is crucial not only for tackling climate change and harnessing offshore renewable energy but also as key infrastructure for our coastal communities,” Senator Chambers told the Galway Advertiser. “The fact that environmental blocks can halt such a vital development is a ludicrous situation.”

She underscored the need for a balanced approach that integrates environmental protection with necessary infrastructure development.

“We need to reassess our green policy and overhaul our planning system. This is precisely what the Planning and Development Bill, currently going through the Oireachtas, aims to address. However, there is a huge urgency to get this bill passed before the summer.”

Rossaveal Harbour’s proposed expansion includes a deep water quay, low concrete sea walls, access road, lighting, drainage, and protective structures. The planning permission for this development was extended in July 2023 by Galway County Council following an application by the Minister for the Marine.

However, Wild Ireland Defence CLG argues that the council failed to properly assess the development under various EU directives, including those on Habitats, Water Frameworks, and Environmental Impact Assessment.

“This is the type of situation that frustrates people when we talk about protecting the environment while trying to advance developments that are essential for our communities,” Senator Chambers remarked. “We must adopt a common-sense and practical approach to handling key infrastructure developments, ensuring they proceed in conjunction with environmental protection.”

She also pointed out the significant investments and efforts that have already gone into the project. “Halting the development at this stage undermines the progress made and the potential benefits for the community and the environment. It’s imperative that we find a solution that addresses both development needs and environmental concerns effectively.”

In conclusion, Senator Chambers called for immediate action to resolve the current impasse and ensure that critical infrastructure projects like Rossaveal Harbour can move forward. “Our coastal communities and the future of our renewable energy capabilities depend on these developments. We cannot afford to let bureaucratic hurdles stand in the way of progress,” she asserted.

 

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