Pearse Stadium

Observations on further information 18/12/2013

Residents' response to further information for planning file 13/97



Planner's Request for further Information


The planner has requested comprehensive information on several aspects of the proposal for which the initial submission was deficient. Despite the volume of the applicants response it is still deficient in many regards. The most blatant deficiencies are listed in summary immediately below and in more detail further down.


  1. The planner in his request for further information has correctly identified that the proposed development could have a significant impact on the amenity of the area. His suggestions that consideration be given to a much reduced scale for the proposal so as to reduce the negative impacts on residential and visual amenity have been ignored.

  2. The planner's description of this as a radical proposal is at odds with the applicant's efforts to portray it as a mere tweaking of the existing situation. A change from daytime to nighttime, contrary to the applicants' assertions, would have seriously detrimental effects on the amenity of the area and problems endured by day would be exacerbated by night.

  3. The application is incomplete in that were it to be granted permission another series of applications would have to follow for it to become operational. All the addition works that would be required should be contained in the one application so that it could be evaluated in a way that takes all relevant considerations into account.

  4. The design standard for structure stability given for the lighting columns rated as 27m/s for 10-minute mean wind velocity at 10m grad is below measurements taken by Met Éireann. The english standards document quoted includes a rider that it does not apply to the Republic of Ireland. This is significant in the extreme in view of the proximity of the masts to people's houses.

  5. The lighting report is based on a model that they admit can not account for the type of windows in the houses at Na Cúiliní, the very area considered to be the most sensitive from a lighting point of view. The actual intensity readings would be higher, and as even before a correction is made there is an exceedence of 3.26 Lux on a limit of 10 Lux at some points. It is unacceptable to get away with using figures from a model which in this particular case is not fit for purpose.

  6. There is no provision for lighting required for the safe entry or exit of people at night.

  7. There is the shadow of the Slattery report hanging over the proposal. Its contents are on the whole kept secret from the local residents and general public, and we presume from the planners. This is so significant that they have revised down their figure for stadium capacity from 32,000 to 26,197. There is no indication of what the safety issues are or what remedial works would be required so there is no way of evaluating how they might impinge on the proposal.

  8. Comparisons with other locations are only valid to a point. But in view of the fact that their models for their lighting reports and their structural stability reports are found to be deficient in terms of this proposal and that the same people would have produced the reports for some of the other locations, then assertions that permissions have being granted elsewhere is a justification for granting here is flawed logic. It must also be accepted that at least some of the other mentioned locations were not without bitter controversy and accusations of sharp practice when they were being examined.

  9. The pattern of activity is one of rapidly increasing intensification of use at Pearse Stadium in the lead up to this application. This year has been the worst for residents and claims that there will be a natural control on the number of games that can be played due to what the pitch can stand have been shown to lack foundation. They have demonstrated that they are able to play several games a week, often several per day over an extended period.

  10. We have serious concerns about the attendance figures submitted. They understate and in some cases grossly understate the actual attendance at games.

  11. The figure for the maximum capacity has been a movable feast ranging at various times from between 26,197 and 34,000. They have failed to do what the planner requested and what good planning practice would dictate, that is draw up plans based on maximum capacity.

  12. The noise reports' conclusions that there is no subjective difference between noise during the day and noise at night is patently ridiculous.

  13. They suggest a number of possible controls by planning permission, but anyone familiar with the planning files on Pearse Stadium will know that that is just a joke. The current enforcement notice is a reminder of that.

  14. They are non compliant with several existing planning conditions. They have failed to show compliance with the enforcement notice currently in place.

  15. They have produced yet another parking and traffic management plane of sorts but the claims they make for it do not match what happens on the ground. They have exaggerated the number of parking spaces at some locations. Based on past history it is not at all clear that the consents they have produced and which would be given in good faith by the property owners or trustees are as are as represented. It is highly doubtful that the principles and management of the schools and clubs were consenting to the patrons of the GAA using there facilities potentially any day of the week, day or night. The famous condition 3 part (a) of the parent consent and subject of the enforcement order required the 500 parking spaces to be available for all games at Pearse Stadium. They totally ignore the thousands of other parking spaces requird in the original parent grant of permission.

  16. Past history has shown that planning conditions relying on third parties to provide parking facilities in the absence of any contractual arrangements is a nonsense.

  17. They have choosen October 28th, 2013 as the example of how their plan is supposed to work but what actually happened on the day is totally different to the plan presented.

  18. They fail to make any reasonable economic argument. To the extend to which they try, they end up with contradictions when trying to give the message that different people want to hear. At times they tell us there will be more people attending games and at others they tell us there will be fewer.

  19. Reading the applicants submissions one could be forgiven for thinking that residents only suffer inconvenience for the actual duration of the games. This is far from being the case.




Control by Planning Permission


In the words of the applicants themselves we are dealing with a "constrained site in a sensitive residential area." The planners asked for consideration to be given to reducing the impact of the development by reducing its scale. They have not done so. Instead they use their deflection tactic and compare it to the previous planning applications which are no longer relevant, and which were so weak that they did not even let them go forward for decision but rather let the clock run down on the period for further information so that they would be deemed withdrawn rather than rejected. The reduction in scale requested by the planner is relative to what is in the current application. They use this deflection tactic quite a lot in their submissions. They suggest that they can be controlled by planning condition, even suggesting a few conditions themselves, telling the planner what they would consider as acceptable to impose. We would point to the almost total failure of planning condition as a means of control at Pearse Stadium. They have a long history of breaking and ignoring planning conditions and regulations. As just one example we point to the current enforcement notice and how the existence of a planning condition has been ignored for the last 12 years, despite repeated representations from local residents on this and other issues.



Traffic Management and Parking


There are many concerns regarding parking and traffic management that should be addressed in the further information supplied by the applicant, but they have not been dealt with in any meaningful way. At a high level view they can be broken down to two major issues:

  • Can they show compliance with the enforcement notice based on the "parent" planning permission.

  • Have they provided a proper, practical, workable, functioning traffic management plan.

The answer in both cases is No.


Enforcement Notice

They skirt around the issue of existing planning conditions and the requirements of the enforcement notice. To the extent that they do address it they do so as if only one element of the existing planning conditions are of concern, that 500 parking spaces be available at the Prairie. They position this as optional depending on demand. This is not the case. The condition laid down is that these 500 parking spaces be available for all games in the Pearse Stadium. They never have been. The purpose of the condition was to prevent on street parking by people coming to the stadium.


They totally ignore the other parts of planning condition 3, that also required that additional facilities for up to 1,100 cars at Colaiste Einde and 1,500 at St. Mary's College shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities at the Arus are inadequate. These spaces are not available. Some have being built on, some are committed to existing permit holders and the schools are not prepared to have their pitches damaged by cars anymore than the GAA are at the Prairie. The schools also operate supervised study for their students in the evenings and traffic collecting them afterwards would conflict with traffic of match goers looking for parking.


This highlights the futility of granting planning permissions based on facilities been made available by third parties at their own discretion and convenience without any contractual agreements in place.


But lets ignore that for a moment and look at the figures they have presented.

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Traffic Management Plans

They have not produced a viable traffic management plan. They have not even alluded to some of the basic requirements of such a plan.

  • They do not link any plan to the stadium capacity

  • They do not take any account of background parking occupancy such as for residents or for other events that might be taking place in the locality at the same time.

  • They do not give roadway capacity analysis to identify capacity constraints and level of service, or bottleneck locations and saturation flow rates.

  • They do not provide a model forecasting typical hourly/sub-hourly event patron arrival and departure distribution

  • Based on their inaccurate attendance figures for past events they do not seem to be able to forecast event traffic generation with any degree of accuracy. They can not give the correct figures after the events have taken place, not to mind make accurate forecasts in advance. More detail on this is given further on.

  • They do not detail who will manage direction of traffic and manning of parking areas or how they will manage them.

  • They can not provide any evidence of contractual arrangements to guarantee availability of any parking spaces. They are entirely dependent on the continued cooperation and wishes of the owners of any sites claimed as available for parking.





So lets look at what they have provided.

  • A list of claimed parking sites and spaces

  • a plan that was supposedly implemented on October 28th, 2013

  • claimed attendance figures for past events



Taking each of these in turn, lets compare facts to claims.



Claimed Parking Spaces in lieu of 500 at the Prairie


They are now trying to replace the non existent 500 spaces at the Prairie with alternative spaces claiming to have a net 670 for purposes of satisfying the enforcement notice. Again one needs to see through the smoke and mirrors.


They claim 100 at Arus Bothar na Trá. This ignores the fact that activities at the Arus generate their own parking arrangements. Apart from a handful of spaces at the front of the building they generally do not allow parking on their property. Their patrons park on the street. Are they now saying that activities will cease in the Arus whenever there is a game planned for Pearse Stadium? No way.


They claim 200 spaces at Scoil Einde nation school. It is their practice to only allow players and officials use these spaces. They put out a sign at the entrance to this effect and we have witnessed patrons been refused entry on several occasions because they were not deemed to be either players or officials. Normal good planning practices dictate that examination of on-site parking areas must account for spaces lost to the event sponsors, bus staging, taxi staging, media parking, event employee parking, and event participant parking. Net parking supply incorporates event staging needs and any background traffic that can legally use the parking area during event hours of operation. Following good event planning practices would therefore dictate that these reserved parking spaces would not be counted as being available to the patrons of the games at Pearse Stadium.



They claim 200 spaces at Scoil Rois Taylor's Hill. The actual capacity of the site is closer to 70. In the aerial photograph below the 16 cars marked by the red line were there when the picture was taken. The other cars laid out in straight rows in the photograph were copied from the part of the photo with the 16 cars and pasted into the picture so as to get scaling correct and allow a count of potential spaces to be made. This is a school playground marked out for children's games. Unless it was parked out as a car park (which will not happen) one could not expect the parking to be as organised and compact as shown in the picture. Therefore we take a count of the cars showing as a maximum capacity that is unlikely to be achieved in practice. The count is 74 compared to the 200 claimed by the applicant.


On examination of the facts one quickly finds that the claimed 670 spaces they want to use in lieu of the 500 non-existent spaces at the Prairie reduces to at best 374 and in all probability heads towards zero when we have clarified matters with the managements of the various locations.




They claim 100 spaces at the tennis club. Enquiries at the club found that the staff working there were unaware of any agreement to allow parking there. As far as they were concerned parking is for members only. In fact they have on occasion put up signs to this effect, most recently on October 28th which postdates the letter they claim gives them parking rights here. Club activities take place throughout the day into the night and it can not be expected that club members and patrons will curtail their own parking rights and activities to facilitate activities elsewhere.



The same comments apply to the 70 spaces at Salerno as at the other locations when it comes to conflicts between activities at the school and the Pearse Stadium.


In evaluating parking supply versus demand, it would be reasonable to consider as a rule of thumb that 90 to 95 percent lot occupancy represents a full parking area. This especially applies under scenarios where event patrons must self-park. When a parking area reaches a near-capacity occupancy level, drivers experience difficulty locating an empty parking space and must circulate through the lot again or seek another parking area. There will be further loss of efficiency in parking space where parking spaces are not marked out.


All of the above even if available at times are dependent on the continued goodwill and wishes of the property owners, trustees or boards of management who will naturally give priority to their own requirements.



We are under time pressure to reply to the further information but will be making contact with the management of each of the facilities quoted to ascertain if they understand these facilities are being put forward as satisfying planning conditions for events that may potentially take place during the day or at night and potentially on any day of the week. And for the long term. We at this stage do not believe that any of the parties who gave consents to access properties in good faith are fully aware of this. We note past history in which claims have been made that turned out on later examination to be either false or based on commitments obtained based on incomplete information as justification for our scepticism on this point.





Failure to Plan for Stadium Capacity


Good practice would dictate that calculations are worked out for the worse case scenario. This would mean taking the maximum capacity of the venue as a starting point. At different times figures from 34,000 to 32,000 to 30,000 to the now stated maximum capacity of 26,197 have been claimed by the applicants in their various planning applications. Indeed the planning authority has correctly specified this in the request for further information by saying "the capacity of the stadium is the figure which should be the principle point in the examination and assessment of any development as 30,000 could attend".


Some assumptions will have to be made. A vehicle occupancy factor of 1.6 persons per vehicle represents a common assumption. The Modal split for how patrons normal come to games is almost 100% private car. The table below shows that even if we take the smaller capacity and if we also assume that only 90% of patrons will come by car, then 14,736 car parking spaces would be required for the event attendees alone. This does not take any account of the background parking occupancy due to parking requirements of residents or for any other events that might be in the locality at the same time.



Capacity 26197

Capacity 32000

Capacity 32000

Modal split: % private car

Number of parking spaces required with Average Vehicle Occupancy rate of 1.6

16373


20000

100.00%

Occupancy rate of 1.6

14736


18000

90.00%

Table: Required parking spaces versus stadium capacity





Attendance and Capacity Figures

They seem confused about the actual capacity of the stadium. Their figure given in the further information submitted is reduced to the lower figure of 26,197 given in the Slattery Report. But they are basing submitted proposals on much lower attendances. It would be standard practice and good planning practice to prepare plans on the basis of worst case scenario. There submission does not address the situation with higher possible attendances at all, despite a direct request from the planner to do so.


It is amazing that they can not give accurate attendance figures. Can they give accurate figures for gate receipts? If not their own members might want to consider some serious investigation by an outside body.


Their figures for attendance at games are understated, in some cases grossly so. I believe they include numbers based on ticket sales only. At some games a significant portion of the attendance is made of of underage children who are let in free. This could make up nearly half the actual attendance at such games but are not reflected in the official figures given for attendances. This means that the figures used for what they describe as level 1, level 2 and level 3 games are based on incorrect figures and so has implications for proper planning. Information they supply to the gardaí and any other concerned body is likewise going to be incorrect and as a consequence it can be expected that insufficient resources may be supplied to deal with events.


We present as an example of the gross under reporting of attendances the Galway V Mayo Connacht Football Championship on 19/5/2013 for which they claim an attendance figure of 16,000. The official figure published after the game was 16,233 so close to the 16,000. However, we attended the game and did a physical count and come up with a figure closer to 30,000. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the official figure from the GAA published afterwards. It is not that difficult to do a count when you are in the stadium, the crowd is relatively stationary during the game and you can take your time to get it right. We readily accept there may some degree of error in our count but not much in percentage terms. Our count has an equal probability of slightly under estimating the actual attendance or of over estimating it. As further validation of the count we note that the stadium was packed, and while the official capacity figure may change the actual physical capacity of 32,00 when you ignore safety considerations has not changed.


The only explanation that we have come with so for for the huge discrepency is that the official GAA figures are based on paid admittance only and that anyone who gets in for free is not counted. For the game in question there was indeed a high number of younger fans who were allowed in free. But for safety and planning considerations everyone needs to be included in the attendance figures whether they had to pay to get in or not.


While many GAA members and fans may consider that an investigation is warranted into the huge dispairty between the official attendance figures and the actual figure there are two considerations that come to mind from a planning perspective. One is that the figures used to decide on what manning levels would be required by gardaí and officials for proper running and control of the event and its environs is based on understated figures. The other is that the stadium is allowed fill to above the capacity identified by the Slattery report as been safe.






Parking arrangements for October 28th

They have choosen October 28th as their showpiece for their latest effort at coming up with a viable parking and traffic management plan. They have submitted details of supposed parking arrangements for the day so lets compare their claims with what was the actual case on the day and separate fact from fiction. The plan for the day included parking to be available at the tennis club, Salerno and Colaiste Éinde all on Threadneedle Road and the Prairie. The gates at both the Prairie, and at St. Enda's were padlocked as normal outside school hours so no parking was available there despite the signage indicating otherwise. They put up a sign pointing to parking in the tennis club but when the people in the club realised what was happening they stopped it and put up a sign "members and competitors parking only". There was to be parking at Scoil Róis and signs erected to this effect directed traffic into that area. However, the school grounds were still closed two and a half hours after the first game began and the area was clogged up with cars parked illegally on the footpaths. It opened sometime later and when we checked was being manned by two young school kids on their own. There were only 10 cars in the school grounds and the area outside was saturated with illegally parked cars. The spaces were available at Salerno but people started using them only after the on street parking that the car parks are supposed to prevent had taken place and the surrounding area was saturated with patrons cars, many of them illegally parked. We also noted that cars entering the parking area at Salerno sometimes held up traffic behind them as the drivers spoke to and paid the person collecting the parking fee at the entrance. If the three claimed locations all opening onto Threadneedle Road in close proximity to one another had all been operating then the delays would have been exacerbated.


They may have had a park and ride at the GMIT. We did not hear about this until afterwards. They claim 800 spaces were available here. 620 would be a more accurate figure if indeed they were available. It should be noted that October 28th was a bank holiday monday. One of the headaches they have at GMIT is a severe shortage of parking and there is no way spaces would be available on weekdays during college term. Students have to buy permits and because of the shortage of spaces students have to live a certain minimum distance away from the college to be allowed to buy a parking permit.

There was an unusually large garda presence in the vicinity of the Pearse Stadium for this particular event but this did not mean that local residents did not suffer the usual inconvenience and hassle that has become associated with match days at Pearse Stadium. Many patrons aware of the parking issues come and park their cars on the streets several hours before the games begin, and before there is any garda presence. Some even have the cheek to park in private driveways if they think the house looks unoccupied. Others can be quite pushy in requesting they be let park in a private driveway where no car is parked at the time, even when the owner tells them that they have family coming later. Some residents who had left their homes in the morning to go to Mass etc could not park at their own homes because these early birds had taken their spaces. The garda presence on the day does not seem to have translated into enforcement of parking regulations on most of the neighbouring streets. The gardaí may consider it a good days work if they can maintain some level of traffic flow along their prioritised routes but the residents do not agree if this still means they can not enter and exit their own homes when they wish to.


They act as though the current situation is satisfactory which it is most definitely is not and simply tweaking faulty plans with more of the same will not improve matters.


There is no Parking at Rockbarton Court or the Prairie. The spaces at Rockbarton Court are private and numbered for allocation to each dwelling.






Park and Ride

The GMIT park and ride proposal is lacking in detail and 800 spaces would exceed that available. 620 would be more accurate if all spaces were available in the area described. Note that the day this was used was a bank holiday. If games are on a weekday they would certainly not be available because one of the headaches they have is a shortage of parking space at GMIT. The last Park and Ride proposal lasted for one game only.


Manual transaction operation at parking areas closely resembles the operation of manual (cash) lanes at toll facilities. In both cases, signs inform drivers of the fee in advance of the service facility, and servers conduct cash-only transactions. Numerous publications on toll facility evaluation report the capacity of a manual toll lane ranges from 300 to 400 vehicles per hour. This equates to a service time of between 9 to 12 seconds per vehicle. Practitioners may assume a service time in the stated range, where 12 seconds per vehicle denotes a conservative service time, for individual servers handling cash transactions at a planned special event parking area. This is for situations where the facility has been purposely designed for taking tolls. Using the GMIT car parking facilities would be much less efficient in this regard as this is not what it was designed for. So one would expect that it would take well over two hours for 800 cars to be parked there, even if the spaces were available. The car park was to be opened from 10am to 6pm. Translate that to similar opening hours for matches starting at 8pm in the evening.



They claim confidence that they can come up with more park and ride and parking spaces and want us to trust them to do this after they get planning permission. They have not succeeded in doing this since they got permission under false pretences in early 2002. And as for trusting them, who reading the history contained in the planning files could do that? The last effort at a park and ride before that was at Galway Airport and it survived for all of one game. Their charge of €5 per adult, €3 per child or €15 per family on top of gate entry fees acts as a disincentive to the use of the park and ride, along with the impracticality of trying to get a bus when everyone leaves the grounds at the same time and the walk to and from the Western Distributor Roundabout. Thats a long walk in bad weather.



More on Parking and Traffic Management

Parking Area Egress

Two basic strategies surround parking area egress operations. These contrasting strategies include: (1) preserving adjacent street flow and (2) effecting rapid parking area unloading. Important considerations include:

  • Regardless of strategy, planners should locate parking area access points as far away as possible from major intersections so that vehicles can exit immediately from the parking areas without disrupting the flow of traffic on the adjacent access road.

  • When the adjacent street represents a collector or arterial roadway, the traffic management team generally seeks to preserve flow. How would they accomplished this.


If the claimed parking spaces were in fact available how would they plan to deal with traffic entering and leaving Tennis Club, Salerno, and St. Endas secondary schools and at the same time keep traffic moving on Threadneedle Road and through Threadneedle Road/Dr. Mannix junction?

  • To effect rapid parking area unloading, consideration would normally be given to providing multiple access points for each parking area.


However in the sites put forward as available this is not an option. Delays would arise as traffic tries to cross the road when turning right getting into or exiting the sites. How long would it take for sites to empty after a game? We have had occasion where buses from Pearse Stadium took thre and a half hours to reach Eyre Square.


How is entry and payment at the parking sites to be handled. On October 28th last we witnessed traffic delays at the Threadneedle/Dr. Mannix road junction when cars going into Salerno held up traffic while payment and discussion took place between drivers and the person collecting the money.



  • Parking Occupancy Monitoring

On the day-of-event, traffic patterns and parking area loading patterns may vary from event planning team predictions. As a result, some parking areas, particularly non-reserved lots, may load faster than other lots. An event planning team and traffic management team must, in advance of the event, develop a detail for monitoring parking area occupancy levels for the ingress period. The focus of this task involves making a "lot full" decision at a time when all vehicles between the parking area access point and traveler information devices directing motorists to the parking area (e.g., the pipeline) can still park at the subject lot. As soon as team personnel make a "lot full" call, command post operators change the message set communicated by traveler information devices in order to direct motorists to an alternate lot. The traveler information device(s) forming the upstream boundary of the pipeline must be located upstream of the access road serving an alternate parking area. In some cases, a parking area pipeline may extend to a freeway or arterial corridor serving the event venue.


Who is to monitor all this activity. How many people will it require? Do they have training? Will they be school/club personnel, GAA personnel, gardaí? How will information be relayed to the public that parking is no longer available in a certain location? On October 28th they had signs pointing to parking at Scoil Róis, Taylor's Hill. The car park was not opened until late in the day with the result that cars piled into the area around the school, could find no legal parking spaces and jammed up the footpaths all over the place. It appeared to be manned by two young school children only.


  • Parking Regulations

Planned special events require law enforcement and other stakeholders to consider various on-street and off-street parking regulations. One would expect on-street parking regulations to involve day-of-event parking restrictions, to: (1) preserve parking for nearby residents and businesses and (2) increase capacity on critical access routes serving the planned special event. Unfortunately this does not generally happen for events at Pearse Stadium. It is not uncommon for residents not to be able to bring their cars to their homes when games are on.




Problems may occur particularly during event egress when a continuous stream of traffic exiting a private car park(s) conflicts with heavy adjacent street traffic attempting to exit the local area surrounding the event site. Congestion on the adjacent street creates congestion that propagates upstream and toward the event site area.



Shuttle Bus

The end result in shuttle bus service design involves determining the required number of buses to meet expected ridership levels. Based on event category and associated operations characteristics, the number of shuttle buses needed during event ingress and egress may vary. Discrete, recurring events at a permanent venue demand maximum service at the end of the event.


Primary service design inputs include event patron arrival and minimum service headway (e.g., time between bus arrivals). To estimate the magnitude and rate of arrival, consult parking demand analysis and travel forecast results applicable to the mode transfer point(s) (e.g., parking area or transit station) to be serviced by the shuttle bus. Utilise vehicle occupancy figures referenced in the event feasibility study to convert vehicle-trips to person-trips in order to develop shuttle ridership estimates. The shuttle bus service will serve approximately the same number of persons during egress operation as it does during ingress operation. But demand rates will be much higher on egress as everyone tries to leave at the same time at the end of the game.

Minimum service headway represents a function of route service time. The following equation defines route service time:

Route service time = (Round-trip travel time) + (Number of shuttle bus stations on route) * (Average passenger loading time at one station + Average passenger unloading time at one station + Average dwell time at one station)

Travel time estimates must reflect day-of-event operations and may vary depending on transit accommodation strategies contained in the event traffic control plan. The following equation defines minimum service headway:

Minimum service headway = (Route service time) / (Number of shuttle buses operating on a specific route at any given time)

The following steps describe how to determine the required capacity to successfully operate a shuttle bus service on a particular route:

  • First, design the shuttle bus fleet size based on the criteria of providing a minimum service headway less than the maximum desired user wait time. Using the above equation for minimum service headway: (1) substitute the maximum desired user wait time for minimum service headway, (2) insert the route service time, and (3) solve for the number of shuttle buses required on the route, rounding up to account for the user wait time criteria. Note that the service headway between successive shuttle buses may be greater than the minimum service headway if the fleet of buses assigned to a particular route are not perfectly staggered to yield equal headways between buses.

  • Second, compare the event patron rate of arrival to the rate of available shuttle bus seats per unit of time. To accommodate pedestrian flow during peak periods of ingress and egress, practitioners should consider a sub-hourly analysis (e.g., peak 15 or 30 minutes) using the highest anticipated event patron arrival rates. For analysis purposes, arrival rate refers to the rate of pedestrians arriving to a shuttle bus station at a parking area/transit station and at a venue during event ingress and egress operations, respectively. Practitioners should increase the number of shuttle buses serving a particular route, as necessary based on analysis results, to meet peak event patron arrival rates and avoid overcrowding at shuttle bus stations.

  • Third, account for dwell time and event patron demand at all shuttle bus stations serviced by a particular shuttle route.


We see little of this work.




Lighting Report

They have submitted masses of data but not that much information. Some critical points to note are that there are some readings that exceed guidelines. They claim these to be insignificant. But a failure to be inside guidelines is a failure no matter what the margin. On closer examination, it turns out that the level of exceedance, contrary to their claims, are in fact quite significant. They admit that their model for coming up with the light measurements can not take account of skylight type windows. Their model is not fit for purpose in this particular case as the homes they are most concerned about having readings for all have such windows and if this were properly accounted for it would be seen that the true readings are significantly higher than they are quoting.



They comment on a lighting assessment conducted in November, 2012 and street lighting. The existing street lighting which is directed towards the road and the absence of lighting at the Pearse Stadium were of course considered and influenced the design of the homes at Na Cuiliní. That is why skylight type windows are to the rare of these buildings and not to the front. .



They are obviously concerned about the 10 Lux limit being exceeded. They try to argue that this is a guidance only with their "guidelines are guidelines only and are to be applied as such rather than absolute limits." However, the corollary could just as well be applied. Even if they were under the limit which they are not, a planner could just as well decide that it was excessive, especially if applying the precautionary principle. If there were doubts over some of their readings, as there must be when they admit to using a model that can not account for the types of windows actually found in the location in question then application of the precautionary principle would be entirely reasonable.



Section 6 page 6 of the CSR report talks of recalibration measurements for 1.5m (ground) and 5.9m (equivalent to 1st floor level first floor level), which does not make sense. We thought initially that this was just a typo error, but it is repeated throughout the report. Have they inputted a wrong value for the first floor level to get their reduced readings? In the same section they admit to a reading of 3.26 Lux above guideline maximum of 10 Lux and try to pass it off as imperceptible.



No account of entry and egress lighting. The planners request for clarification on this has not been addressed. So do they intend to apply for a supplementary planning application to address this or do they plan to just leave the flood lights on until all the crowd has dispersed, or do they intend to do what they usually do and put it without planning permission and just apply for retention if taken up on it?



Shadow Analysis

It is strange that these structures should cast light grey shadows compared to the dark shadows typical of walls. However, the report does admit that there is shadow cast on some properties.


They accuse me of misrepresenting information when talking about the size of the fittings on top of the masts. From their point of view this is very much a case of the kettle calling the pot black. In my own defence I got the diameter of 9m for this from their description of a 4.5m radius which appears in the description of their planning application in many places throughout their submission. I took radius to represent half a diameter where they have "(between 33 no. And 40 no. Lighting fixtures on each) fitted to 4.5m radius support frames on each column." My error derived from their own description and not any intention to mislead. None the less 5 and 5.7m as they now amend their measurements to are still very significant, and structures of this size will cast correspondingly large shadows and provide surface area for serious wind induced stresses and strains to appear. They then say I have misrepresented the facts on several other items but do not specify them. If they believe I have misrepresented facts let them spell them out exactly and we can sort it out.




Noise

They claim very little noise will be generated by wind interaction with the columns because they are of tubular rather than lattice structure. They then claim the lattice structure of the lights on top of the columns would generate little noise because there are no moving parts. Then they say there would be noise but it would be masked by other noise and conclude that there is no noise above the background noise so no noise maps are required. In other words we are not giving you a real noise report.


There do not need to be moving parts in the structure itself for noise to be generated. There would be relative movement between structure and wind as the wind moves through it. Have you ever heard the noise of the wind through the railings on Quincentennial Bridge on a windy day? Musical instruments as simple as a tin whistle have no moving parts. Air is just blown through a different number of holes to get a different note. The difference with the musical instruments is that they are designed so that the sound is melodious.


In their introduction to the noise report they claim no noticeable noise from generator will be heard at nearby homes. Can we have more confidence in their assertions on noise readings than we can in their light intensity readings?


When events are organised by the Co. Board they park two vans outside the stadium from which they sell tickets. They use diesel generators with each of these.


Noise from traffic and people has not been addressed. They do not deal with noise from the crowd in any serious way. They simply say that their acoustic consultant did not raise any issues. Of course he did not. If he was paid by the local residents instead of the applicants he could have produced a very long and detailed report with issue after issue.



In section 2.0 of the noise report they say the generator will be tested (possibly fortnightly) during daytime possibly at a fixed time and day so that neighbours can be notified of the routine in order to make any noise impact less disturbing. Here is an implicit acknowledgment by their "expert" that it could be disturbing to residents. Otherwise why would he feel the need to make it less disturbing. This also illustrates that the nuisance from activities at the stadium is not confined to match times or even match days but are throughout the week. He also says that the reason for daytime testing is that there is generally a higher background noise climate during the day. That is the same as the residents saying the actual and expected background ground noise is less at night than during the day and so night time activities should not be treated in exactly the same way as daytime activities. We expect and are entitled to peace and quit at night time. Their expert further says it is appropriate to treat the generator unit as industrial in nature. The zoning here is not industrial.



The expert poses the question as to whether residents would find night time noise more disturbing than daytime noise and dismisses it on the basis that we are more likely to be inside during hours of darkness. We can assure him right now that we do indeed find night time noise more disturbing irrespective of whether we happen to be indoors or outdoors at any particular moment. They also ignore the fact that noises from items like air horns are not acceptable any time day or night, but the subjective response is much more severe at night. The same applies to traffic, public address system and other noise.






Incomplete Application

The application is incomplete in that if it were granted permission then further applications would have to be made for additional works needed to complete the project and which are ignored in this application. The missing items include:

  • Stands for TV cameras

  • Extra lighting for entry and exit from grounds

  • All the remedial work that the Slattery report calls for.


Their suggestion that additional permissions can be applied for afterwards if this one were granted is quite frankly ridiculous. The project should be considered in its entirety.



Schedule of Matches

The number of games has being ramped up considerably in the last two years and we expect this to continue if they are allowed. They have shown in practice that wear and tear on the pitch is not a limiting factor as claimed in their planning application. It merely suits their purposes for this to be believed for the moment. We have concerns about the quoted attendance figures as detailed elsewhere.




Visual Impact

They say that "the receiving environment is dominated by its residential character, meaning the visual change and introduction of new elements is likely to be a sensitive issue for local residents." This is certainly one point on which we all agree.


To claim that 36m masts with light arrays up to 5.7m across on top of them are no different to normal street posts in terms of visual impact and to classify this impact as neutral is stretching credulity to extremes.


They say colouring them grey will help them blend in with the colour of the Irish sky. The sky constantly changes colour and on bright days in particular they will stand out like the proverbial sore thumbs.



They dispute that the structures are not the height of a 12 story building. But if you allow a very generous 3m for the height of each floor and divide it into 36m what do you get. In fact between 2 and 2.5 m would probably be more appropriate and dividing by these numbers gives an even higher equivalent height in terms of floors of a building.





Structural Stability of the Columns and Light Fittings

Their first application for floodlights at Pearse Stadium was the only one in which they gave the figure for what wind speeds the setup is designed to withstand, and the stated value was less than winds that have being measured here. They did not give the figure in subsequent applications and only do so here as a response to a direct request for further information on the matter. They give it in a technical manner which is fine for the experts but in a matter in which the general public have a right to be informed and to comment we would suggest that for future reference it would also be sensible and reasonable to require such information also be given in terms more readily understandable to the lay person.


When examined it is found that their design value for this version of the application is again insufficient to withstand the more extreme wind conditions measured here. And it is the extreme conditions that must be looked at. No one is concerned about falling masts or fittings in fine weather but during a storm it is a different matter.


Their quoted document for guidelines states that the values given are for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Cayman Islands only, and cautions that the isopleths given for Irish republic are for purposes of interpolation only.


We include values measured by Met Éireann in a table below given in knots and their equivalents in m/s to allow direct comparison with the figure of 27m/s in the applicants submission. It makes for really scary reading. May and June are the only months that Met Éireann have not at some time measured values that the proposed structures would be unable to withstand. This is all the more serious when consideration is given to proximity of these proposed structures to peoples' homes.


Musco's report "Structural Integrity of Proposed Light Poles for Pearse Stadium" contains some details on wind load analysis and states that the fundamental wind speed velocity applicable to the site is 26m/s given as a 10-minute mean wind velocity at 10m grad, and when a correction is made for altitude this becomes 27m/s.



scource: http://www.met.ie/climate-ireland/weather-extremes.asp


one knot = 1.15078 miles per hour. = 0.514444 m/s


The table below converts these Met Éireann values to m/s to compare with their design value of 27m/s.



Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Mean 10-min

36.5

31.9

34.5

30.35

26.75

26.75

28.3

23.15

33.95

29.8

32.4

34.98



As this is been written Met Eireann have issued a code red weather alert. The wind outside is gusting to 150km per hour. That translates to 42 m/s or 81 knots.


We note that in their eagerness to assure that the columns would not have additional equipment such as telecommunications equipment added they confirm that they would not be strong enough to take it and this merely adds to the fears over lack of safety margin over expected and potential stresses and strains they might have to withstand. In this case to ignore the the precautionary principle would not only be foolish, it would be downright criminal.



Health and Safety

Their out of hand dismissal of our health and safety concerns is not reasoned or acceptable and ignores the scientific evidence. Some of the potential effects are of a long term nature whereas others such as sleep deprivation can take effect quite quickly. Some individual items may have low probabilities of affecting an individual to a noticeable degree but the danger is in the combined effects of all the items of concern. They harp on about a two hour window for which the lights would be on. Unfortunately for locals the problems begin well before the games start and continue until well after they finish. Nor are they confined to match day or in this case match night. There is a host of comings and goings in the days before big games. Sometimes it is like living at the gate to an industrial estate.



Timing of Games

CSR section 10 page 8 they say "It has been clearly set out that the purpose of the floodlights is to accommodate television's requirements and to facilitate the rescheduling of county and club matches from the traditional Sunday afternoon slot to a Saturday evening predominantly or potentially weekday evening." The GMIT Park and ride most definitely and the named locations most likely will not accommodate this. It is also telling us that games could be on at any night of the week.


Lights will be switched off after games and lower level lighting used to allow safe egress from stadium. Flood lights will not be in use after 10pm. So games could be on until close to 10pm. Add to this time to vacate area, which for big games has in the past taken several hours. High traffic volumes could be moving in some areas well after midnight as the area of congestion spreads out from the stadium.



GAA National Strategy and Match Fixture Scheduling

We would contend that GAA national strategy is a matter for the GAA and if anything they should fall into line with what is good planning practice for the area and not the other way around. Whether any other county does or does not have a floodlight ground is immaterial to whether a particular planning proposal is acceptable at a particular location or not.


Even if it were there are now moves afoot for floodlighting to be put in Ballinasloe, which is a much more central location.




Scot Cawly Report

This report was done as a desk survey rather than an on the ground assessment. It apparently identified a number of of "European Sites in Dublin Bay" (section 4 page 13) which lie within 15km of the development. Looks like it was just a cut and paste job off the internet without any detailed examination of the site. Question was were they even looking at the right side of the country?


And no mention of bats.




Economic Arguments

They fail to make any economic case for the proposal. In fact they make contradictory claims. They say attendances could fall for televised games in line with the general experience elsewhere, and at the same time as they say it would generate more business in Salthill without explaining how. They say the business community is behind it. But very few of the business community have actually come out in support of it. Not unexpectedly as many of the business community in Salthill and Galway city are actually residents of Salthill who strongly oppose this proposal.


From our observations a large amount of the spend in Salthill from match goers has to do with family groups and children. The best days are during weekends when there is fine weather and games in the middle of the day. There is likely to be a serious drop off in the numbers of this type of client for night time games in winter and hence a negative impact on most businesses in Salthill .





Rugby World Cup

We believe that while there may be a possibility in that anything is possible it is improbable that we will get to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. To base a planning decision on something that may or may not happen in ten years time would be ludicrous. Especially as its duration would only be a game or two over a few weeks.


If it does come to pass in time that Ireland does get to host the event and if it is deemed to be of significant benefit to the community, then the simple solution would be to grant permission to put up temporary lights for the game or two over the couple of weeks in 2023 as was done for the 2006 compromise rules game.












Further Information Update 5/12/2013

The City Council has received further information from the GAA for their application for floodlighting. The Council has decided that this is significant enough to request a new site notice on this and opens up a two week period where people can, on payment of 20 euro, comment on this. Those who have already made submissions are free to do so without paying another 20 euro.

The notice has already appeared on page 57 of yesterday's Galway Independent.

Request to publish notice

Request to publish notice

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Request for further Information by Planning Office 24/5/2013

Request for further Information by Planning Office 24/5/2013

Council send warning letter to Pearse Stadium due to non compliance with planning condition.

The Trustees of Pearse Stadium have been served with a warning letter from Galway City Council requiring full compliance with condition number 3 of planning register reference no 541/94 by ensuring that the full traffic management plan is implemented in full on match days.

This is the condition on parking requirements that was deemed to be complied with by the proposal to provide car parking for 500 car parking spaces on "The Prairie" at Arus Bothar na Trá, together with the provision and use of 1,100 spaces at St. Enda's College and the use of an additional 1,500 spaces at St. Mary's College.

Residents submission on application 13/97

Executive Summary

We, the residents of Rockbarton Road and Rockbarton Green, and Reveagh Road strongly object to the planning application (File number 1397) from Galway GAA County Board for Pearse Stadium, for Permission to erect and install five no. floodlight columns (of which 3 no. are 30.48m high and 2 no. are 36.6m) with associated floodlights on each column (between 33 no. and 40 no. lighting fixtures on each) fitted to 4.5m radius support frames on each column to provide light levels of 500 lux horizontal and on occasion 1,000 lux horizontal, provision of 550 kVA standby electricity generator to be located underneath the western terrace, associated control gear to provide on/off control and monitoring of lighting system, electrical works and associated site works.


The residents oppose this application as inappropriate to the location, out of scale and character with, and damaging to residential amenity in terms of light, noise, intensity and timing of use, inadequacy of traffic flow and management, lack of parking, health and safety concerns, conflict with previous planning conditions and city development plan, poor aesthetics and overshadowing by masts and associated structures, risk of fatal injury from falling objects as the columns would be too close to residential property and overbearing, loss of privacy, general disruption and injury to our quality of life, as well as incorrect and insufficient documentation supplied and omissions from that documentation, and existing non-compliances at the site. It would be damaging to the general health of local residents. While the nuisance and stress of it would affect all residents it would be particularly disturbing for children trying to sleep. Some may argue that some of the individual objections in themselves are insufficient reason to reject the application. However, it is potential cumulative human impacts that must be considered. Others, judged against the serious consequences should a mishap occur, no matter how improbable that occurrence might be judged, would of themselves demand that any reasonable evaluation would lead to a conclusive and emphatic rejection of the application. The applicants imply a potential economic benefit from their proposal without any facts or even suggestions as to how it would be realised. A thorough examination of the facts shows their implications in this regard are without foundation and traffic congestion, taking over of parking spaces reserved for patrons of local businesses and noise nuisance would in fact have negative consequences on several local businesses.


The current application for floodlighting at Pearse Stadium (reference 13/97) by the GAA is accompanied by a number of supporting documents. These are described as a planning report, a transport statement, a landscape and visual assessment, and a lighting assessment. Each of these contains errors, false information and erroneous conclusions based on false assumptions or statements. As the planning report summarises their application we will deal with it here in summary form, and then give the full details of our arguments and an analysis of their documents later in our submission.


The "Planning Report" by Cunnane, Stratton and Reynolds tries to justify the proposal by establishing a need for and a tradition of activity at Pearse Stadium. The existing stadium has gone through periods of frequent use and periods of no use over the years as various factions within the GAA favouring Tuam or Salthill for games were to the fore. For several years in the 1990's it was totally abandoned and derelict. When they got around to revamping it they sought financial assistance from the local residents as well as further afield. This was given and assurances were given in turn by the GAA that only football and hurling would take place here, and that no nighttime activity would take place. The concern at the time was the possibility of concerts, floodlighting was never envisaged as it was not a normal part of sporting stadia at the time. Commitments that have since been broken.


Whether it would be the first or last County ground to have lights is irrelevant to proper planning, and of concern only to the GAA. Their assertion that a refusal would have severe consequences for the local businesses is without foundation. As for lost opportunity to host international events, the fact that they have to go back to 2006 for a single event or project forward to 2023 for a highly unlikely event illustrates the value of this claim. We will deal in detail elsewhere in our submission with why there is practically a zero probability of rugby games in the stadium in 2023. We also note that for the event in 2006 it was possible even then to erect temporary floodlighting if it was deemed appropriate to allow a once off special event.


To say that the two previous applications were withdrawn due to concerns of residents is untrue. They have over the years shown nothing but contempt for the concerns of local residents. The reason the previous applications were withdrawn was because the submission of false and fraudulent documentation with their submissions was publically highlighted and they expected them to be refused. Their project manager for this application confirmed to the residents at the "information evening" in November that he was called in as a troubleshooter by the GAA when the issue of the forged garda signature arose in their previous attempt to get floodlighting, and that he advised them to withdraw the application at that stage.


The floodlights are not for the benefit of local businesses. In fact they may harm local business because it would be expected to result in lower attendance as experienced elsewhere due to supporters watching games on TV instead of in a stadium on a cold winter's night. They are for the GAA to gain increased advertising revenues from televised games, pure and simple.


To give the opinion that "what is not limited or quantified by way of the original consent or the nature of the existing use cannot be therefore considered intensification" is a rubbish statement. If the activity levels are increased then than is an intensification of use. Because certain activities were not explicitly prohibited in the parent consent does not mean they are acceptable. Floodlighting was never prohibited under the parent consent for the simple reason that it was never envisaged that it would be sought.


The levels of illumination breach the generally accepted standards and guidance for maximum values. They effectively say we will only breach them when the lights are on so let us away with it. The lights will be off most of the time. And what's more we will only interfere with some of the residents. They don't count because there's only a few of them. Again we will give details of the non-conformance in the lighting section of our response, and contrary to their assertions they are not marginal or imperceptible.


In the section headed "Parking, Traffic and Transport" they continue with nonsensical statements. "The first consideration when assessing the potential impacts on parking, traffic and transport is that the maximum attendance anticipated for floodlight matches is 10,000 people which is considerably less than stadium capacity." It is not the first consideration. It is not a consideration at all. What is a consideration is whether or not proper parking exists for the anticipated attendances. The writer of the report seems confused as to what happens. It is precisely these games with crowds below capacity that cause all the problems around Pearse Stadium because the Garda traffic management plan is only triggered at higher attendance levels. If 30,000 were expected the gardaí would have control within the immediate area. However, the chaos then reigns outside their perimeter of control.


There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that spectators will migrate from using their cars to other means of transport and in fact the numbers of cars per given crowd size seems to be on a continuous upward trajectory. We do not believe as the applicants claim that the contrary is experienced in other GAA venues and we state categorically that it is not the case at Pearse Stadium. The logistics of the Volvo Ocean race with its huge army of volunteers is in no way what can be expected for winter games in Pearse Stadium. This also involved a system of street closures, one way traffic, professional security, extra garda resources and significant financial resources. Notably it was also a summertime event.


We would reject the statement that "considerable effort has been undertaken by the Galway County Board to inform their supporters of parking restrictions in place in the proximity of the stadium and these are set out clearly in the stadium website." In fact the website includes false, misleading and inaccurate information including the claims of parking spaces where they do not and never have existed, despite being required by previous planning condition. (Details given elsewhere).


The Cunnane, Stratton and Reynolds report attempts to stand logic on its head with some very strange interpretations. They say that because there is no specific ban on floodlights in previous planning conditions, that nighttime activities are permitted. We maintain that nighttime activities are not permitted because in the absence of floodlighting only daylight activities can take place. We consider nighttime activities to be activities that take place during the hours of darkness and which therefore change with the time of year. They try to twist this so that hours of brightness in summer time are equated with the same hour on the clock in winter despite the absence of light. The parent consent as they call it was given in a time before floodlighting was normal or in anyway a reasonable expectation.


Their most bizarre twisting of logic relates to the specific off-street car parking that was a requirement under planning condition 541/94 to ensure road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity. They submit a letter from a city official confirming that the mere submission of a plan to meet the condition is deemed to meet it, although the parking has never existed. Despite any letter to the contrary the development at Pearse Stadium remains non-compliant to this day.


They repeatedly downplay the number of games that would be expected to be played in their reports. But at the bottom of page 10 of the Cunnane, Stratton and Reynolds report it says "There are a number of activities related to the playing of Gaelic Games at the ground that may require pitch floodlighting. These would include press or supporters nights." Then they mention a "homecoming", compromise rules games, and college games. So before the ink is even dry on the application as it were, they are already making a case for extra activities. The thin edge of the wedge.


On page 13 the report helpfully lists 34 areas of concern highlighted by the residents (the list is not exhaustive), and then reduces them to three categories, but fails to illustrate how the concerns could be allayed in practice. Indeed the very surveys they conducted and on which they base conclusions are flawed, containing incorrect information such as availability of parking to match goers where it is reserved for patrons of local businesses and the existence of public parking in a car park that was boarded up some years ago.


The lighting report by Musco shares with its predecessors claims that lighting conditions would meet relevant standards but on closer inspection of the actual measurements given in their drawings it is found that they are actually in breach of those same standards by a significant degree.


On the issue of privacy. Just as residents at Na Cúiliní in particular can look into the stadium, spectators in the stadium can look in through the bedroom windows of private homes. This is unacceptable. In terms of use we maintain that the character of nighttime use is significantly different to daytime use. On traffic and parking conditions the stadium is in clear non-compliance for many years. They seem confused as to the size of crowd that causes the most disruption in the immediate area. They state that blocked driveways and problems with access and egress is not endemic but we say that its a frequently occurring problem. The link they mention on the Pearse Stadium website not only lists non existing car parks but actually encourages parking in the immediate area by listing residential streets in which they say match patrons can park. Contrary to their claims, noise will arise by virtue of the wind blowing through the assemblies on top of the masts and it will be there permanently, not just when lights are on. Their suggestion that socially acceptable hours for construction noise would be between 9am and 5.30pm should also apply to any other noise generated by activity there, which in winter would be daylight hours. If noise were to cease by 10pm for matches commencing at 7.30pm then it would be reasonable to assume it would extend to 10.30pm for games starting a half hour later or 11pm should a game start at 8.30pm to suit TV or other schedules. They then need to allow further time for crowd and traffic dispersal. Traffic dispersal in particular can take a considable time. Common noise sources at games such as the use of airhorns by supporters both inside and outside the grounds are not addressed in their report at all. No projected noise measurements are given for generators or any other noise source. You can dress it up anyway you like but in an area of one and two story houses you can not hide five masts extending to the height of a twelve story building. To claim such structures are not overbearing, visually intrusive or out of character for the locality is obviously ridiculous. So are claims that such structures each with light assemblies the size of the front elevation of a house on top of them would not cause serious shadowing effects during daytime. The sun in travelling from East to West each day does take a Southerly path in the middle of the day so contrary to their claims there would be shadowing on properties north of the pitch. Their claims that there is no traffic hazard due to the lights are based on claims of screening by boundary walls which ignore all the gates with bars through which the light would shine, and some of which are missing from the maps supplied. They also ignore relative heights between lights, boundary walls and street levels. The fact that three masts are within striking distance of homes should they fall is very serious. Lights, masts etc do fall occasionally and the risk of fatalities is so serious that any level of risk is unacceptable. We are also concerned that the Slattery report commissioned by the GAA found that capacity at Pearse Stadium should be reduced from 33,000 to 26,000 in order to comply with modern safety standards and that the cost of upgrading the stadium to meet current standards is of the order of 250,000 euro. None of the safety issues highlighted in this report get a mention in the documentation supporting the application.


For all the above reasons which are expanded on below and for the additional reasons detailed in the rest of our submission we, the residents of Rockbarton Road and Rockbarton Green, and Reveagh Road, following a unanimous vote at our meeting of April 22nd, 2013, object to the planning application.




Putting things in context


To put the proposal in context one needs to consider the layout of the Pearse Stadium and its intimate contact with the surrounding houses. Houses at Na Cúiliní share a common boundary with it, and are actually built as an enclave inside the original boundary line. In fact people in their homes at Na Cúiliní would be closer to the playing field than many spectators in the stand. The houses at Rockbarton Road and in most of Glenard have an elevated position relative to the pitch and boundary walls so that even from ground floor windows of many properties the pitch can be see, and so they are particularly sensitive to glare reflected from the playing field and to visual pollution within the stadium. It is not unknown for the odd sliotar to end up in someone’s garden during a hurling match.


The area surrounding the Stadium is a quiet, peaceful area described in the City Development plan as a mature residential suburb. It has a predominantly elderly population. It also has several families with young children. The residents are prepared to live with some inconvenience on daytime match days for a few hours. We accept that some traffic congestion around the schools in the immediate area is for the most part unavoidable. We accept that there will be overflow from the commercial centre of Salthill from time to time. We accept that traffic from events in Leisureland will sometimes spill over into the adjoining streets. But this is in a different league altogether. While it is necessary for our school children to go to school at the time they do, the GAA have options as to the timing and locations at which their members enjoy their hobby.

This proposal involves the totally inappropriate intensification of use and a change from daytime to nighttime use in what is effectively a quite, mature, residential area which can not meet the requirements for parking and traffic movements. It would alter the evening/night-time character of the locality. It would place unreasonable restrictions on residents in the area until the crowds disperses after each match. Under previous versions of the application it turned out that they intended to hold at least 38 nighttime matches a year according to a letter from The County Board to the City Council. Their current wording indicates twelve games during the winter period which is still almost one per week, but buried in the report is mention of other ancillary activities as well as "college games". Why college games would not count the same as any other games is a mystery to us. It would lead to noise and light pollution, disturb sleep patterns and cause much anxiety to local people. It would also contravene the guidelines given in the GAA’s own club handbook and be contrary to the City Development Plan.


The Official GAA Guidelines


The official GAA club manual, in the section on planning states that “There are a number of potential impacts accruing from grounds and facilities development which may raise cause for concern and ultimately comprise reasons for refusing planning permission. The main issues are summarised below as follows:

"Issue Development

  • Light Pollution. Floodlighting of car parking, pitch or training area

  • Noise and disturbance. Generated generally by people participating in activities (i.e.) matches, training; spectating particularly during matches; large social gatherings (i.e.) club function; by equipment such as generators, refrigeration units and finally by servicing.

  • Visual Impact. Unacceptable visual impact of structures including Floodlighting, stands, indoor facilities and clubhouses in visually sensitive areas.

  • Hazard to road safety. Inadequate, dangerous or excessive traffic movements to and from a facility. ”

All of these issues and more arise with this application to an extent that would seriously degrade the quality of life of the local residents.

The same document under the heading “Best Practise – General Location and Siting” states that “New facilities likely to generate significant traffic and noise particularly in the evening, should not be located in residentially sensitive areas."

It goes on “New facilities especially where floodlighting is proposed (or there is a prospect of it being proposed) should not be located in visually prominent areas”.
It further makes the points that “Parking should not be located where it will interrupt the free flow of traffic”.

“Sufficient parking should be provided to discourage on street parking, especially in residential areas”

With regard to floodlighting, “Lighting should be designed to avoid lighting overspill into surrounding areas particularly in sensitive residential areas” and “clubs should consider the height and location of proposed structures in relation to the surrounding residential properties”.

The bottom line is that Pearse Stadium is in the wrong place for this type of development, and does not meet the standards to be met under the GAA's own published guidelines.


How big is it?


The surrounding residential one and two story properties would be dwarfed by the five giant masts. Even with the reduced height they would still be the height of a twelve story building. They would actually be closer to the people in neighbouring houses than some of the spectators at a match. To contemplate allowing these would make a mockery of height restrictions which were attached to previous applications for good reasons. For example among the conditions imposed on the houses at Na Cúilini, which was originally part of the site, was that the pitch of the roofs had to be modified so that the ridge on the two story houses would be reduced by at least one metre. (See planning files reference numbers 97/386 and 97/392).

There is some confusion on Page 28 of document "Floodlighting Assessment" by Musco in relation to the heights of the masts. Paragraph two says "The three columns of 30.48m are located on the northern terrace." The next paragraph in contradiction states "The two lower columns each of 30.48m are provided to the south west and south east corners of the ground on either side of the main covered stand. These columns are lower than those proposed on the northern side of the ground...."


It is also unclear as to what is being taken as the zero reference level for the heights mentioned or if there is one being used at all. If it is the length of the mast above the foundation, then for example how much higher is the Mast in the middle of the northern terrace relative to the houses than if it were referenced to pitch level?



How safe is it?


The masts described in the first application were supposed to be able to withstand wind speeds of 52m per second (116 miles per hour) but according to Met Eireann wind speeds of 125 mph have being recorded in Ireland. The proposed attachments on top of each mast to hold the lights would act like sails to catch the wind and should winds approaching some of those already recorded occur, it does not bear thinking about. Was it only the mast that was rated to withstand wind speeds of 116 mph in the previous version of the application? We imagine that the attachment at the top could not have been, and that even the mast could not if the attachment was catching severe winds at such a height. The west and northwest of Ireland and Scotland have the highest winds in Europe. The applicant fails to give ratings for subsequent versions of the proposal, including this one. This is a serious omission in view of the catastrophe that could result if the first proposal had got the go ahead, and in view of the fact that this version still has the masts at locations A1, A2 and A3 closer to houses than their column length. Note the maps are not up to date in terms of showing the outlines of the houses at Na Cúiliní. They do not show extensions that have being added at the rear of some of these houses in effect bringing the masts closer still.


The current version of the application omits any technical detail on load bearing, carrying capacity, wind forces tolerated etc. It provides no details on ground conditions, or the size or type of foundations that might be needed other than that they are large. In view of their proximity to peoples' homes, is their potential for damage to those homes from excavation works or subquent ground movement?

Even if the masts were "guaranteed " to withstand all applied forces their proximity to neighbouring houses still leaves a potentially lethal problem whereby a lamp or part of the supporting structure or lumps of ice forming on the structure can fall on the adjacent homes with possible fatal consequences. In this regard what do they consider an acceptable probability for a serious or fatal accident.


Big masts can and do collapse and that is why a minimum setback distance to buildings (people) should exceed the radius of the danger zone given by the height of the mast, and increased further to take account of extra travel distance for attachments falling in potentially high winds. In this case nearby houses are in a very dangerous position. Remember on the original withdrawn application the masts were not even rated to withstand wind speeds that have being recorded by Met Eireann, not to mind a margin for safety.


That is why, for example, that the Wind Energy best practice guidelines as to where towers can be located, list as a constraint the distance to neighbouring property/nearby dwellings. It cites the aim of the constraint is to ensure a separation distance to avoid a variety of impacts, e.g., blade overhang, meet noise protection and shadow flicker guidelines. They cover similar constraints with regard to distance to roads and powerlines which would also be applicable in this case. They state that although modern towers are designed to withstand expected conditions things do occasionally go wrong and so because of the potential serious consequences one must take the prudent approach by ensuring a minimum clearance distance that exceeds the height of the tower.


And things do go wrong. Only a few weeks ago a wind turbine just two years old collapsed in Donegal under what were considered benign conditions that should in no way challenge the design specifications of the tower. It could not collapse under the prevailing conditions according to the design specifications and the company operating it. It was guaranteed to be safe. Yet it did collapse. An indication that collapsing towers or masts is not a unique occurrence is the refusal by the company responsible for the Donegal turbine to say how many of their towers ever collapsed, they would only say it was rare ocurrance.


On our blog at http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/floodlights-collapsed/ there is a video of the aftermath of a floodlight mast collapsing at a sports stadium in Crete. An application not too dissimilar to what is proposed in the current application.


Closer to home, its not too long since a floodlight collapsed in high winds in Mervue. Presumably each of these were also deemed to meet their stated design specifications at the planning stage. Yet they too collapsed.


The potential fatal consequences of an accident where there is insufficient space to meet the minimum setback distance of mast height from neighbouring homes are so serious that this in itself is sufficient to warrant a total rejection of the application.

The Health and Safety issues do not end there.

The Slattery Report commissioned by Séamus McCloy chair of The Infrastructure and Safety committee was conducted in February 2011 on behalf of the GAA into health and safety issues at inter-county grounds. The report recommends reductions in capacities at many venues throughout the country in order to meet modern safety standards, including a decrease in Pearse Stadium’s capacity from 33,000 to 26,197. In December 2011, Galway county board treasurer Bernie O'Connor said that it would take a considerable amount to upgrade their main grounds. The safety audit revealed that Pearse and Tuam Stadiums as well as Ballinasloe needed considerable work in order to retain their full capacities. O'Connor revealed that the cost of upgrading Pearse Stadium to such a standard would be in the region of a quarter of a million. Are the Health and Safety Authority and Local Authority aware of the detailed contents of this report. We contend that all works to be carried out should be considered in a holistic fashion and not in isolated bits and pieces. We would expect that a complete version of this report (not edited highlights) be requested by the planning office in order to properly evaluate the application in terms of the overall safety situation at Pearse Stadium.


Other health and safety issues such as traffic hazard from glare and intermittent bright and dark spaces affecting driver vision, poor health outcomes from interrupted sleep, stress from the continuous nuisance etc are covered in subsequent sections.



Light Pollution


The impact of light pollution on the local residents and the wider community does not appear to have been adequately researched. They make assertions about existing street lighting levels. What we are concerned about is the lighting levels at our homes not just on the streets. Light pollution causes nighttime vision to be impaired which can be dangerous to motorists and pedestrians as well as causing damage and confusion to flora and fauna including the protected bats that use it as a flight zone. Light pollution can also remove an individual’s privacy, cause sleep disturbance, wastes energy and has been linked with several serious health problems.


Health Effects of Light Pollution
Medical research on the effects of excessive light on the human body suggests that a variety of adverse health effects may be caused by light pollution or excessive light exposure. Health effects of over-illumination or improper spectral composition of light may include: increased headache incidence, fatigue, medically defined stress, decrease in sexual function and increase in anxiety, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and depression. Several published studies also suggest a link between exposure to light at night and risk of several cancers, particularly breast cancer in women, due to suppression of the normal production of Melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the brain when the body receives a signal that light levels have dropped below a certain level. This hormone plays a critical part in regulating these factors mentioned above in the human body. It is also an important antioxidant that helps maintain the body’s immune system. The human body has evolved over time to survive in an environment with a natural and regular 24 hour cycle of day and night. Exposure to bright light during the nighttime part of the cycle interferes with the body’s natural cycles. Light stops the production of melatonin and so cholesterol and blood pressure levels rise and the immune system weakens. Melatonin affects receptors on cancer cells putting them to sleep. When the melatonin disappears the cancer cells wake up again.

The brighter the light, the stronger it suppresses the melatonin production. Research shows “that the tumor growth response to exposure to light during darkness is intensity dependent and that the human nocturnal, circadian melatonin signal not only inhibits human breast cancer growth but that this effect is extinguished by short-term ocular exposure to bright, white light at night.” This explains why people who work night shifts are more likely to get breast cancer, why cancer is most prevalent in industrialized regions of the world, and why decreased incidence of breast cancer is found in blind women.

The more intense the night-time light, the stronger it suppresses the melatonin synthesis. Some people are more sensitive to night-time illumination’s action than others, for example, women are generally more sensitive than men. Light pollution can cause premature reproductive system aging, and increase the risk of breast cancer and large intestine cancer in women. Night workers more often suffer from large intestine or rectal cancers. In addition, irregular light can cause sleep disturbance, gastronomical and cardiovascular diseases, metabolic derangements and, possibly increase the likelihood of developing diabetes.

Humans evolved without electric light over thousands and thousands of generations. The body is designed to be awake and alert during daytime hours and to sleep at night. Our 24-7 society is out of harmony with our biological design.

That design is the circadian system-internal rhythms that repeat roughly every 24 hours. The sleep/waking cycle is the rhythm we’re most familiar with, but the body is constantly adjusting its internal machinery to the ebb and flow of hormones, the rise and fall of body temperature, and other subtle rhythms – to mesh with the 24-hour solar day. Monitoring and directing this is the brain’s master clock, the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN).

When wavelengths of light hit the photoreceptors in the back of the eye, signals are sent to the SCN. The SCN resets itself daily by tracking the strength of the signals. Weaker ones at night, when it is dark trigger the release of melatonin from the pinal gland in the brain.

Melatonin slows body functions and lowers blood pressure and so lowers body temperature. Conversely, a strong light signal during the day reverses the process; other hormones are released, raising blood pressure and core body temperature, as melatonin production declines.

Cells throughout the body, including cancer cells, have melatonin receptors, and when melatonin makes its nightly rounds, cell division slows.

Two hours of bright light can knock down melatonin to daytime levels. Short light wavelengths, such as those at the blue end of the spectrum, (found in fluorescent and halogen lights), suppress melatonin the most. In a healthy person, you can measurably curb melatonin with as little as 1.3 lux of blue light.

We maintain that an approach similar to that with smoking should be adopted. If you want to risk damage to your health by smoking that is your own concern, but do not force someone else to engage in passive smoking. If someone wants to expose themselves to health risks by over exposure to bright light at night, that is up to them. But those of us who do not want to be exposed to such risk should not be forced into suffering it. Any incremental risk factor introduced to the area is additive to those already in an area, such as high radon levels. This is a high radon area with more than twenty per cent of the homes in this area estimated to be above the Reference Level of 200 Bq/m
3 (Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland).

Glare is the result of excessive contrast between bright and dark areas in the field of view. Light shining into the eyes of pedestrians or motorists can obscure night vision for up to an hour after exposure. Caused by high contrast between light and dark areas, glare can also make it difficult for the human eye to adjust to the differences in brightness. Glare is particularly an issue in road safety, as bright and/or badly shielded lights around roads may partially blind drivers or pedestrians unexpectedly, and contributes to accidents. It particularly affects the elderly.


The main glare from floodlighting is not actually the floodlights themselves but from the perceived glare of the floodlights back from the playing surface. The elevated position of homes on Rockbarton Road and Glenard relative to the pitch and boundary walls of Pearse stadium means that many have clear views of the pitch and so are particularly sensitive to glare. The same is true for traffic driving down Glenard Road and Glenard Crescent. Their contention (page 50) that there is no glare associated with the proposed floodlights is patently untrue.


Because of the lower height compared to the first version of this application the beams from the floodlights would have to be closer to the horizontal than before which would increase the likelihood of light spillage.


We maintain that the illumination of the pitch and space above it would result in unacceptable sky glow and that this would be unacceptably intrusive to surrounding properties.

The levels for light pollution given in the various standards quoted are maximum levels. These are exceeded in a number of cases as outlined on page 48 of their "Floodlighting Assessment" document, which confirms readings of 18.73lux and 20.08, versus a maximum of 10 in the quoted guidance documents, at both ground floor and upper floor windows in Dr. Mannix Road. They state on page 50 that "Any ancillary and vastly reduced low level lighting showing emergency exits, toilets etc and enabling emergency evacuation from the stadium will be comfortably within the above standards or guidelines." They seem to consider it acceptable to isolate and consider each element of light pollution individually against the guidelines, but the guidelines stipulate that measurements from all light sources are aggregated and the relevant measurements are those of the total light output from all sources combined.


Several houses at Na Cúiliní have skylights in the roof facing the stadium, so there is an additional entry point for light pollution not considered in their model.


O'Higgin Road is dark and so service lighting at back of the stand would be significant. It is not just light from the floodlights that should be measured but all sources of light combined. They give no measurements on this road assuming perfect shielding by the stand but ignoring service lighting for people moving behind the stand. As the stadium and adjoining Prairie are totally unlit over an area of about 7 hectares, they should be considered an E1 zone (Intrinsically dark landscape) adjoining and influencing the character of the residential zone, much of which should as a result be considered to have an E2 zoning (low district brightness) rather than the E3 zoning assigned in the applicants' report. St. Enda's national school unlit at night, its unlit grounds and the adjoining park across the road from the stadium further support such a zoning. The houses at Na Cúiliní facing onto the Pearse Stadium effectively look onto a totally dark landscape at night and so at the back of these houses the appropriate levels against which to measure light spill are those of an E1 zone. By no stretch of the imagination do the levels presented in the applicants' report come anywhere near meeting these. They do not even meet the requirements for an E3 zoning.


We note errors in the maps supplied which omit a number of gates along Rockbarton Road. They are missing four sets of gates in between the ticket turnstiles. These are open bar type rather than solid wall type gates so light will shine through them. The charts should show higher Lux levels beyond these gates compared to where there is shielding from the wall. The same applies to the boundary facing the landscaped triangular area at the corner of Rockbarton Road and Dr. Mannix Road. Traffic passing these gates would be at risk due to a series of bright and dark spots in quick succession as it passed along the road with shielding from concrete walls interspersed with light coming through the gateways. The same will apply to measurements and to traffic hazard from the light through the gates in the north-west corner at Dr. Mannix Road.


As noted above there is confusion in section 5.2 of the "Floodlighting Assessment" report by Musco as to the heights of the masts in particular locations. It is also unclear what is being used as the zero reference for the heights of the Masts. For example is the height of the mast half way up the middle of the northern terrace referenced to the same zero level as that at the western end of the stand? What size are the electrical component boxes attached to each column? There are therefore questions over the accuracy of the details input to calculate lighting levels.


The conditions for which the data is given should be clearly stated with each drawing, and should include worst case conditions. We note that buried in the report is a comment that under certain conditions readings could be higher than indicated on the existing drawings. Are the readings average values or do they give maximum readings taking account of the 3% tolerance noted in the drawings, which in turn are based on structures being within three feet of design locations; not something that Pearse Stadium has had a particularly good record in the past.


Shadowing Effects.

The applicant claims that the masts with a thickness of 400 mm will not cause significant shadowing effects. But they will. The proximity of the masts to windows of nearby houses (as close as 15m) has to be considered. A 400mm wide barrier (excluding any extra width that might apply to the electrical component boxes) at 100m from your window will not have the same effect as the same barrier directly in front of it. The closer it is the more it will affect you. There is also the the not insignificant consideration of the lights themselves and their cowls, visors and reflectors on 9m wide support frames on top of each mast. There are five such masts proposed. Claims that such structures each with light assemblies the size of the front elevation of a house on top of them would not cause serious shadowing effects during daytime is a denial of reality. The sun in travelling from East to West each day does take a Southerly path in the middle of the day so contrary to their claims there would be shadowing on properties north of the pitch. There would be shadowing on the west in the morning moving around to the north and then to the east in the evening as the sun moves relative to the earth throughout the day. The lenght of shadow depending on the Sun's elevation and hence on the time of day and time of year.


Visual Intrusion

Stating (on page 29 Lighting Assessment) that it is traditional to use galvanised steel columns in grey to blend in with the predominant colour of the Irish sky in order to reduce the visual impact of the columns on the skyline, is in itself an admission that such visual impact does exist. But to offer it as a solution falls far short of what would be required. One of the attractions for painters in the west of Ireland is the ever changing colourscape of the sky and its effect on the appearance of the whole landscape. During the summer the grey columns would stick out like sore thumbs against the clear sky or vivid sunsets when the amenity value of the view is at its highest. There is no way you can hide these things, particularly when the 9 metre diameter attachments on top of them equate to the size of a good sized house, and in addition they would be in a cluster of 5.


Cumulative Visual Effect

The application should be rejected because it is of a scale and inconsistent with the area due to its height resulting in a feeling of dominance and overbearing, while the number of masts would lead to sense of clutter. It would impinge on and dominate the views from the local residences, which form part of their amenity.



Noise Pollution


Light trespass on bedrooms would not be the only stress factor invading our homes. Noise pollution from transport, generators, low frequency vibrations from trucks and buses, or nuisance noise from spectators, service vehicles and public address systems would all assail us. There would be noise generated by the wind blowing through the light structures whether the lights are switched on or not. Noise at night when the locality is normally quiet would be most intrusive. All this noise is even less acceptable at night than during the day. The noise caused by spectators banging the advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch when there is a score is terrible. The use of air horns both inside and outside the stadium is even worse. They are advertised as having typical sound pressure levels of 112 -120 decibels and can be heard half a mile away. The perception of spectators at a game will differ from that of residents in their homes just as that of those at a lively late night party differ from those trying to sleep next door.

An Bord Pleanala laid down the condition that the Galway Bay Hotel had to ensure that “activities carried out therein shall not make or cause to be made any noise or vibration which is so loud, so continuous or so repeated or of such duration of pitch or at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in any premises in the neighbourhood or to persons lawfully using any public place”. Its reason; to prevent annoyance by reason of noise to occupants of nearby premises and to safeguard the amenities of the area. Proper planning would require the same conditions be attached to any development in or adjoining this residential area. The present application is in conflict with such requirements and so should be refused. Irish Law now legislates for noise pollution. In fact the wording used by An Bord Pleanala seems to be taken from the wording of the legislation.

The proposals would enable use of the pitch in evenings during the hours of darkness at times residents can legitimately expect a degree of quiet. It should also be borne in mind that young children will normally go to bed earlier than most adults. The noise and light disturbance to their sleep patterns would be unacceptable and certainly not in keeping with the Council's aspiration for Galway to be a child friendly city as given as an objective of the City Development Plan. Nor would this distraction be conducive to activities involving concentration such as students trying to study.


The World Health Organization published the Night Noise Guidelines for Europe (2009-2010). The Guidelines present new evidence of the health damage of nighttime noise exposure and recommend threshold values that, if breached at night, would threaten health. An annual average night exposure not exceeding 40 decibel (dB) outdoor has been recommended in the Guidelines. Sleepers that are exposed to night noise levels above 40dB on average throughout the year, corresponding to the sound in a quiet street, can suffer health effects like sleep disturbance and insomnia. Above 55dB long term average exposure, similar to the din of a normal conversation, noise can get to trigger elevated blood pressure and heart attacks.

A noise impact assessment providing details of background noise levels and modelling predicted noise levels at evening matches was not conducted. Such a study should be conducted for this type of application and the recommendations in the World Health Organization report "Night Noise Guidelines for Europe" along with the aims of the
European environmental noise directive 2002/49/EC taken into account.


Quoting directly from the European Commission's environment website, "Environmental noise pollution relates to ambient sound levels beyond the comfort levels as caused by traffic, construction, industrial, as well as some recreational activities. It can aggravate serious direct as well as indirect health effects, for example damage to hearing or sleep and later mental disorder, as well as increasing blood pressure. Noise effects can trigger premature illness and, in extreme cases, death. Night-time effects can differ significantly from daytime impacts. The largest impact of environmental noise is on annoyance and sleep disturbance."


Sleep is an essential part of healthy life and is recognized as a fundamental right under the European Convention on Human Rights1(European Court of Human Rights, 2003).


Links to supporting documentation can be found on our website at http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/noise/


Within the European Union (EU) it is estimated that the monetary costs incurred as a result of noise pollution lie between 0.2% and 2.0% of gross domestic product (GDP) (Prascevic and Cvetkovic, 2006). As such, a best case scenario means annual financial losses of more than 12 billion Euro to the European economy. Key contributors to the economic cost include reduction in house prices, lost labour days and reduced possibilities of type of land use development on individual sites (European Commission, 2000a). Aside from the financial cost is the fact that more than 25% of the population of the EU experience a significantly reduced quality of life as a result of exposure to environmental noise. Moreover, evidence is mounting that excessive exposure to environmental noise results in considerable health deficiencies (Murphy and King, 2010).


The Environmental Protection Agency's guidance note for the development of Noise Reduction Action Plans clearly states that Action Planning Authorities should primarily design their action plans with the twin aims of: (1) avoiding significant adverse health impacts from noise; and (2) preserving environmental noise quality where it is good.


The effective noise levels at neighbouring homes will depend greatly on prevailing wind conditions, a factor over which they have absolutely no control. And no matter which direction the wind blows it blows towards neighbouring homes.


Noise sources include the following:


Source

Level of Disturbance

Comment

Air horn inside grounds

Extremely High

Typically 112 -120 decibel Can be heard up to 1/2 Mile Away

Air horn outside grounds

Extremely High

As above – totally unacceptable

Traffic inside grounds



Traffic outside grounds

high

Can continue for significant time after games

People moving inside grounds

Can vary


People moving outside grounds

High


Wind through light assemblies

No measurements given

Any time day or night

Crowd cheers when a team scores

High


Spectators bang advertising hoardings when team scores

High


Electrical and disel generators

Potentially high

Low frequency sound particularly iratating

Public Address System

High

Playing music: Persistant over long time periods. Already a significant source of annoyance at daytime events and goes on for hours before games.

Car horns blowing after game

High


Clean up crew?


Depends when and how done

Service trucks before & after events


Depends on times they come and go



Parking and Traffic Circulation

Existing parking plans for matches are deficient and based on misinformation. The venue could hold a crowd of 34,000 people if you ignore the safety concerns highlighted in the Slattery report, but the surrounding area has only got adequate space for residential parking. Previous traffic management plans presented by the applicants claimed the availability of parking in school grounds and other locations where it transpired they had no arrangements at all.

The conditions imposed to provide satisfactory car parking arrangements when permission was granted for the current stand (planning register reference number 541/94) required that 500 spaces be available at Arus Bothar na Trá. Maps with the spaces marked out on the playing pitch of Salthill-Knocknacarra GAA club (known as The Prairie) were supplied, but parking spaces have never existed at this spot. It also required that additional facilities for up to 1,100 cars at Colaiste Einde and 1,500 at St. Mary's College shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities at the Arus are inadequate. In effect the permission was obtained on the basis of a collection of lies. These conditions were laid down years ago, when there were a lot fewer cars on the roads, in the interests of road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity. They still have not being complied with. When there is a large attendance at an event in Pearse Stadium, even if the crowd disperses from the immediate area reasonably quickly there is traffic backlog for hours afterwards as motorists try to get out of Salthill.


Strangely their supporting documentation for this application contains as "Appendix 2: Correspondence from Galway City Council dated 13/3/01 regarding Condition 3 of Parent Consent" a copy of a letter from the City Council's executive engineer for roads, J. Tansey, which states that he confirms that the proposal to have these parking spaces available is deemed to satisfy the necessary conditions. They seem to be offering this letter as evidence that they are compliant although the spaces have never existed anywhere but on paper. This issue has been raised many times over the years by the local residents and ignored by the Local Authority. It has been well established on several occasions that just because the GAA submit letters stating something to be the case in connection with a planning application, that in itself does not make it the case.


Development at Pearse Stadium remains non-compliant to this day for the above and for several other items.


This current version of the application continues with this practice of claims on resources to which they in fact have no entitlement or agreements.


Their big idea in the current application seems to be to try and ignore the requirements for the 3,100 off street parking spaces in set locations set down as a condition of the so called parent permission. And get away with on-street parking instead, in direct opposition to the very reasoning of the planners in insisting on off street parking in the first place; that is "To provide satisfactory car parking arrangements to serve the proposed development in the interests of road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity." There were also restrictions imposed on stand and terrace heights in the interests of visual and residential amenity which were ignored. Several other conditions were laid down in the so called parent permission for similar reasons and despite representations from local residents on many occasions over the years the development at Pearse Stadium is to this day non compliant on many counts.


In their document "Pearse Stadium, Galway – Floodlight Installation, Transport Statement" by Waterman Transport and Development Limited, they present their case to address parking and traffic management concerns. Section 3.3 reproduces part of the plan produced around 1990, (before they left the stadium derelict for several years), not what actually happens on the ground. Section 3.4 correctly states the "purpose of the restricted zone is to limit the level of on-street parking". The gardaí do not commit themselves to this plan and the system of permits does not work. As the document notes in section 3.5 the implementation of a traffic management plan by the Gardaí depends not only on expected attendance but on the calls on very limited gardaí resources which have to deal with an area extending out towards Clifden, and which continue to be further reduced. Section 3.6 notes that a match with an attendance of approximately 9000 spectators did not have the traffic management plan in place. For photographs of the type of parking that took place on the day see http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/2422013-2/.


Section 3.9 noted that parking appears worse for smaller games than games, and indeed it is in the immediate vicinity. But as their report noted above even at games with 9,000 spectators no management plan is in place and in their planning report document by Cunnane, Stratton and Reynolds page 3 they say "the likely attendance of floodlit games, most commonly occurring over the period October to March would more likely be circa 6,000 people." In other words the expected crowds fall well outside the thresholds that would trigger a traffic management plan being implemented, and would be exactly the type of games that cause the most disruption in the immediate vicinity. The words "most commonly occurring over the period October to March" imply that they are already considering some floodlit games outside that period. It is also worth noting that when post match traffic has eventually cleared from Salthill the circle of traffic congestion around the city has just extended its radius so that depending on where people are coming from you will hear reports on Galway Bay FM of traffic congestion in places like Claregalway several hours later. On occasions when a serious traffic management plan is in force and the Gardaí do try to block off non resident traffic it merely causes all the same hassle for people living a little further outside the exclusion zone. They enclose information on a parking plan for Croke Park which does not appear to be of any particular relevance to the current application. We note that this documentation does say that in an area of limited parking, residents have every right to expect to have priority on that parking. We do not have equivalents of the LUAS and DART services in Galway. We would note that Dublin City Council had published plans and promised residents that they would bring in bylaws to enforce a two mile exclusion zone around Croke Park on match days. Later they turned around and said they could not do it after all, that it was not practical.


As noted in section 3.10 there are also problems with traffic and parking associated with local schools. However, our school children have little choice as to where and when they go to school and it is right and necessary that they do so. The GAA on the other hand does have several options as to when and where their members enjoy their hobby. Unlike the patrons at games the parents dropping off or collecting their children are only parked for a little while and even if traffic blocks the road for a while as long as the driver is still in the car it can be moved to allow other traffic or emergency services to pass, unlike the situation where a car is unoccupied for a number of hours while its owner is at a game.


The options of greater enforcement and park and ride facilities mentioned in section 3.11 are devoid from reality on the ground. On perhaps two occasions over many years when serious enforcement took place, it was such a rare and unexpected occurrence that all hell broke loose, with accusations of a vendetta against GAA supporters. People driving from far afield to Galway are not going to look for and pay for parking some miles away, and then take buses to the stadium and reverse the process after the game. On the one occasion that we can remember when buses were laid on by Bus Eireann, most passengers abandoned them as it took over three hours to get from Pearse Stadium to Eyre Square because of the post match traffic congestion. Christmas shopping can be spread over the whole day but after a match everyone wants to leave at the same time.


Sections 3.14 confirms that the vast majority of match goers arrive by car and that will not change anytime soon. Section 3.15 glibly states that "it may be considered that parking capacity is not an issue merely due to relocation of a fixture to a Saturday evening". Indeed parking capacity is an issue no matter what time a fixture is on, but we the local residents state categorically that we consider the inconvenience and disruption we would experience would affect us more severally in the evening/nighttime when we would legitimately expect some quite. It you take their figures of expected attendances averaging 6,000 and 91% of these arriving by car, that is 5460 people expected to arrive by car. Taking an average of two passengers per car would require that 2730 car parking spaces be available for match traffic alone. That is 2730 car parking spaces above that required for local residents and visitors and people in Salthill for any other reason. They don't exist. And neither do the 3,100 off-street spaces required as a condition under the so called parent consent.


Their review of on-street parking is an unacceptable distraction from the requirements of previous planning permissions to ensure that on-street parking is avoided, and their only response to having no viable alternative to all the off-street parking those permissions required and which up to this version of the application the GAA falsely claimed they had arranged.


Section 3.19 which identified that less than half the spaces at the Promenade car park were utilised during the Saturday evening match time while it may possibly have being true on the particular day they did their study is certainly not consistent with our general experience. If they had conducted the same study the previous week for example, there would not be a single space to be had at that time. The place was busy with people out for Valentines weekend. When we did checks on later weekends the average vacancy rate was 22 spaces including 3 for disabled parking. We did our checks at 7pm. For parking to be available it must be free when match goers arrive in Salthill. Any spaces that might become free halfway through a match for example would be of no use to match goers. They do not specify what time they conducted their study beyond saying during the proposed Saturday evening match time.


Section 3.20 merely confirms what the residents say about the clustering of traffic movements before and after a match and why the suggestions of park and ride facilities are quite pointless. If this clustering effect did not take place then the period over which match traffic would be experienced would be even more prolonged. Section 3.20 also confirms the residents' assertions that abuse of parking regulations does actually take place, and if you go looking for evidence of enforcement or prosecutions you will find none.


The comment in section 3.23 that the demand for car parking spaces will not coincide with peak day-time car parking demand, and coincide with the tourism related peak is obviously written by someone without good local knowledge. Salthill/Galway has a mature tourist product to offer. And while it has seasonal peaks it is not all go during the summer or daytime and closed down during the winter or nighttime. Salthill also has its share of businesses that are busier during the evening than during the day; pubs, restaurants , concerts in Leisureland etc. It should be noted that holiday weekends are busier than others in Salthill and Galway City. Weekends immediately before or immediately after them tend to be quieter. By accident or design they choose the weekend of February 23rd to conduct their survey. This just happened to be between Valentines weekend and the Easter bank holiday week, and so was an unusually quiet weekend in the area.


Their survey results in section 3.24 is indeed interesting and the errors it contains bring into question the comprehensiveness and findings of any survey conducted. As previously noted their count of 77 vacant spaces at Salthill Upper is higher than our general experience would indicate. They claim that 18 out of 25 spaces vacant at the Aquarium car park. In fact there are only 18 spaces here in total and they are reserved for patrons of the businesses there and so not available to match patrons. From our discussions with people working there, it is a source of frustration and annoyance to them that on match days these spaces are taken over by match goers to the detriment of their business. Again only 23 spaces occupied at Leisureland is an unusually low occupancy rate. Here again management have expressed their frustration at spaces meant for patrons of the facility being taken over by match goers. Should this occur on Saturday nights then Leisureland becomes a less attractive option for anyone wanting to rent the Hall. Nighttime games therefore are likely to have a negative impact on Leisureland. And in turn match goers would face competition for parking spaces from people going to Leisureland, or local restaraunts etc.


They claim 62 spaces unoccupied at Baily Point. Again they fail to mention that these are reserved for those staying or working in the apartment block. If ever a building development could be cursed it is this one. When originally constructed a lower level car park for public parking was built. This flooded a couple of years ago and has since being locked up due to damage to cars as a result of anti social behaviour. There is no public parking here. For pictures of the location see


The conclusions given in section 3.25, since they are based on the erroneous information noted above, are obviously incorrect.


Section 3.27 lists areas they claim on-street parking is available despite the reasoning behind previous planning conditions being to prevent such parking. Again it looks like someone is working off old out of date maps and claiming anywhere they do not see a building as a potential car park available to match goers. This is obviously an absurd and dishonest approach and the results from such a survey bear little resemblance to the reality on the ground.


Section 3.29 lists a number of off-street parking locations in Galway City. People will not drive from a distance to Galway City, pay for several hours parking, try to find a way out to Pearse Stadium and pay for it, pay to see the game,and after a game find some way back to town, again paying for it. It just will not happen. It is also worth noting that even if match goers were somehow persuaded to park in the city centre they can face competition for parking spaces with people attending other events, both sporting and non-sporting, such as rugby games in The Sports Ground on College Road. The times of the Saturday Vigil Masses in Churches around the city would mean that parking spaces in adjacent areas would already be filled at the time match goers would want them. For the nine consecutive days of the Novena in Galway Cathedral every February there is already demand for parking far in excess of supply and traffic congestion and parking problems are unresolved. Closing times of any potential car parks also have to be considered. Any car park closing earlier than people would be returning to it after a match is useless to match goers. For example the Cathedral Parish car park closes at 6.45pm each evening.


Again in the section on Public transport, walking and cycling it is devoid from reality. Most match goers come from too far afield to cycle to matches, and even if they did not we are talking about the middle of winter. Their information on their website on bus timetables is incorrect.

Incorrect, false or misleading information on the Pearse Stadium website.


According to their own website http://www.pearsestadium.ie/venue-info.php

Car Parks available at the following venues as arranged by G.A.A. authorities

  1. The Prairie (Not true)

  2. Colaiste Einde (Not True)

  3. St. Enda's Primary School (Questionable: they put up a sign "for Players and officials only")

D. St. Mary's College (Not True)


Bus services are available from Eyre Square to Blackrock (No 1 route), Eyre Square to Knocknacarra (No 2 route) and Eyre Square to Rahoon (No 5 route) and all come within walking distance of the Stadium and depart every 15 minutes. (Not true). Bus Eireann's "improved revised network of services in Galway City" which came into effect from March 4
th 2012 actually resulted in lower frequencies and fewer stops on each route into Salthill. The frequency according to the Bus Eireann timetable is every 40 minutes. And that only works if there is not traffic congestion. Contrary to section 3.33 it does not go every twenty minutes during any part of the day.


Sections 4.1 to 4.26 are purely aspirational and until such time as it can be demonstrated that it can be implemented in full it is of no practical value. The confirmation stated to have being given by the Gardaí (section 4.24) that there will be prosecutions where breaches of parking regulations take place is not in accordance with current general practice. In view of current industrial relations we question the idea of the GAA employing the services of the Gardaí to provide a "non public service". (Section 4.26 part2). We can not have great confidence on the GAA's commitments on sufficient or adequate stewarding. On several occasions in the past the Gardaí had to intervene and force the GAA to open gates to ensure crowd safety at Pearse Stadium.



Their application documents list several areas where no parking is allowed but these are regularly blocked up with cars parked on footpaths, double yellow lines, or on both sides of roads too narrow to facilitate such parking.


There has been a massive increase in the number of cars since the 1995 application. According to the last Government Census in 2011 the number of cars in the parish went up by 1150 to 3239 between 2006 and 2011, one for every two people.


Residents are fed up with cars being parked on footpaths in the area forcing pedestrians, including those with prams, and wheelchair users off the path and onto the middle of the road. Even when the Gardai put out parking bollards these are often ignored. While being blocked from entering or exiting your driveway is an annoyance, the real fear is that someday there will be a hold up in an emergency situation. There has lately being an intensification of usage in the Stadium and incidents like these are causing residents’ patience and tolerance to wear thin. When this is further exasperated by GAA officials flouting the law, refusing to refrain from blocking footpaths with trailers from which they sell tickets, residents complaints and concerns being ignored down through the years and the apparent reluctance of the Gardai and City Council to take any action against them for their transgressions the potential for a major confrontation exists.

If games are held on evenings of any weekdays (Monday to Friday) it should also be noted that the arrival of patrons for matches in the evenings would correspond with the time many locals would be returning home from their day’s work.

Lack of footpaths
There are no footpaths on the sections of the roadways leading from the Promenade via Rockbarton West / Rockbarton Park and Bothar Ui hUiginn to many of the entrance gates of the Pearse Stadium. Consequently patrons walk on the roadway thus presenting a Health and Safety hazard for themselves and residents of these areas. Use of the Pearse Stadium facilities at night will seriously exacerbate this problem. The proposed development would, therefore, endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road users and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.



Amenity/Privacy
The proposed development would extend the times/dates during which it will be possible to hold activities at Pearse Stadium. This will infringe the privacy of local residents and curtail their enjoyment of their properties. The lack of suitable parking facilities is already a serious problem for residents and this situation is likely to worsen with the extended programme of events. The presence of crowds at later times in the evening /night is also a source of concern for residents. Just as residents can look out their windows, over the wall at the match spectators the same spectators can look into through our windows.



The proposal is contrary to the Galway City Development Plan 2012-2017


Section 6.3 of the Floodlighting Assessment document claims that because there is no specific policies or objectives in relation to potential light pollution mentioned in the City Development Plan and because they believe there will be no negative impact upon the environment in terms of lighting pollution that it accords with the provisions of the City Development Plan. This is not a logical conclusion. To take an extreme example purely for illustration purposes, there is no prohibition on murder, stealing or other such crimes in the Plan but that does not mean that such acts would be in accord with it. There is however a commitment in the plan to preserving and enhancing residential amenity which the proposal would damage in several ways. Therefore the proposal is contrary to the Development Plan. The Development Plan is a general aspirational document to offer guidance but in most parts vague enough (because it has to cover so many possibilities) to leave a lot of discretion to the planning authority. With this discretion comes a duty of care to the people living here.


We take comfort in the existence of the Galway City Council Development Plan 2012-2017 which includes as one of its four strategic goals “providing for a built and natural environment that is of high quality and that contributes to providing a good quality of life for residents and visitors.” In section 11.2 on Land Use Zoning it states that “In the boundary areas of adjoining zones it is necessary to avoid developments which would be detrimental to the amenities of the more environmentally sensitive zones. For instance, in areas abutting residential zones a particular proposal may not be acceptable which could be acceptable in other parts of the zone. Where a site for a proposed development straddles the boundary of different land use zones the permitted density on the overall site will be an average between the different zones subject to residential amenity”.

It further enforces this comfort when it states that the zoning objective for residential and low density residential zones is to provide for residential development which will ensure the protection of existing residential amenity and will contribute to sustainable residential neighbourhoods. The current application conflicts with this.

The chapter on Housing states as part of its aim “To ensure that residential neighbourhoods will have a sense of identity and will foster sustainable living and movement patterns. To improve the quality and to protect the character of Galway’s older residential neighbourhoods and to regenerate the city centre’s residential neighbourhoods.” The strategy statement for achieving this is to “Protect, enhance and explore opportunities for environmental improvements to existing residential areas”.

The first paragraph of page six of the plan states “In general the Council will protect and enhance the character of existing residential neighbourhoods through development standards and through the implementation of environmental improvements.”


This is followed by Policy no. 2.2 Neighbourhoods.
Encourage the development of sustainable residential neighbourhoods, which will provide for high quality, safe, accessible living environments which accommodates local community needs.
Encourage sustainable neighbourhoods, through appropriate guidelines and standards and through the implementation of Local Area Plans.
Protect and enhance new/existing residential neighbourhoods through appropriate guidelines and standards.

The current application is also incompatible with the development plan’s concept of “Home zones” which it says “may consist of shared surfaces, indirect traffic routes, areas of planting and features to encourage the use of the street for amenity. These features allow for traffic calming and design features that are used to indicate to traffic, the entrance to a “home zone”. “Home zones” allow streets to become play and amenity areas and therefore can contribute to Galway’s role as a “child friendly city”.

Salthill is classified in the plan as an established suburb. In section 2.4 it states that “it is the priority of the Council to ensure that new development will not adversely affect the character of the area. In this regard infill development should not be of such a scale that represents a major addition to or redevelopment of the existing urban fabric. In this respect, infill development will have regard to the existing pattern of development, plots, blocks, streets and spaces. Infill development will also have regard to the scale and proportion of existing buildings, building lines, massing and height of buildings in relation to the street”.

In section 9.3 it reads “The Council will discourage the spread of uses which would lead to the deterioration of the attractiveness and amenity value of the area”.

Chapter 11 of the Plan begins “The Council is required to control development to ensure that permissions granted under the Planning and Development Act 2000 are consisted with the policies and objectives of the development plan.”

In section 11.2 it gives the zoning objective for residential area as “to provide for residential development and for associated support development which will ensure the protection of existing residential amenity and will contribute to sustainable residential neighbourhoods.”

In essence then the City Development Plan puts a legal onus on the City Council to protect the amenity value of residential areas and where a conflict may arise at the boundary of zones the rights of the more sensitive zone takes precedence. It is a requirement and not just an option that development is controlled to ensure that permissions under the Planning and Development Act 2000 are consistent with the policies and objectives of the development plan. As the current proposal would very seriously injure this amenity it must be rejected.

There are also European standards on noise and quite an amount of Irish case law. There are also European standards on light pollution. Planning requirements across Europe are becoming more stringent on the impact of lighting on the environment.



Negative Economic effects on the Locality


Local B & Bs are effectively cut off from potential customers when police road blocks are in place in an effort to control traffic and parking so as to avoid blocking access and egress to and from residents’ homes, or at times crowds are leaving the stadium. If controls are not put in place, then traffic congestion results. If they are, it just pushes the congestion further away from the Stadium. In all the years the Stadium has being here no one has come up with a viable solution to this problem. The Pearse Stadium is simply in the wrong place. The traffic congestion has a direct negative impact on certain professions in the area such as that of taxi driver. This can last for hours after an event.


If Leisureland can not guarantee parking then it becomes a less likely to get bookings for events. Two of the biggest events in terms of benefit to the local economy are the Irish Dancing and swimming competitions that take place in Leisureland. Local businesses are affected when match patrons take up their parking spaces without permission.


From talking with people attending games at Pearse Stadium it seems you are most likely to get patrons to stay around Salthill and Galway for a few hours and spent in the locality is when fine weather is expected and they make a family day of it. Nighttime games in the middle of winter are likely to have lower numbers travelling than Saturday or Sunday daytime, and will almost certainly mean those with young children will not attend. It would in fact result in less benefit to the local economy. The GAA interest in fees from TV companies in this case conflicts with economic benefit to the local economy.


How do they claim it will bring business yet not generate any additional traffic. Yet another contradiction.


Rate payers are likely to be tapped again in the form of requests for further grant aid from Galway City Council. There are still debts outstanding on Pearse Stadium. Indeed based on what has happened after similar proposals were allowed in other GAA stadiums, it can be expected that creditors will also be squeezed to forego some of the agreed monies owed to them after work would be completed. The most comparable case in Castlebar saw creditors having to take a loss of é600,000. Since November 2011, the Mayo county board have begun a fundraising initiative, Cáirde Mhaigheo, which aims to centralise all Mayo GAA fundraising initiatives through the county board. Local clubs are likely to suffer as they are pushed to divert fund raising activities and proceeds from their own activities to help servicing the extra debt that would be placed on Pearse Stadium and the Galway County Board.


Now that a property tax linked to market values has being introduced any development which generally lowers values will have a significant negative effect on the tax take.



The Suggestion of the Rugy World Cup

The applicants hold out the prospect of hosting the rugby world cup in 2023 as a justification for granting permission for floodlighting. To base a planning decision on something that might according to speculation occur so far in the future, would to say the least, be unwise. At the moment there is only speculation as to whether Ireland will put in a bid or not as various parties position themselves for advantage should it by some chance come to pass. Even those who believe it will not may engage in games to seek advantage in the hope of getting grants of public monies or planning permissions for their own ends. It is easy for ministers and other parties to make noises suggesting that they support or might support such an application when it is such a distant possibility, ten years out.


The IRB demand a high price of any host for the competition. Comparisons may be made between Ireland and New Zealand, both small countries with small populations in comparison to the other main players in the rugby world. Any benefits do not come without associated costs. When New Zealand hosted the event in 2011, The event was expected to cost about NZ$310 million to run and to generate NZ$280 million in ticket sales. In Auckland, the city where many of the most important games were to take place, the costs to the local ratepayers alone was estimated at $102million. It may be easier to get verbal commitments a long time in advance than actually get ratepayers, businesses and local authorities to actually deliver the monies when required. It is likely that even that far out, we will still be facing financial constraints. Both Australia and Ireland withdrew bids for the 2015 world cup in spring 2009 due to financial reasons. England gets to host it in 2015 because it was prepared to pay an £80m tournament fee. Japan had to guarantee the 2019 World Cup to the tune of €115 million and that is likely to increase by 10% for the 2023 staging. Minister Varadkar or his replacement will have to get the Government to give a guarantee worth up to €125m to cover any losses suffered during the running of the tournament. He will also have to get agreement from the Cabinet to fund upgrading works in some of the stadiums that could be made available. For example to upgrade the media and corporate facilities where they currently do not meet requirements.


Of course if massive funding does look like it might become available the IRFU might decide to bid for a later world cup instead and get the funds to develop their own stadiums instead of depending on the GAA. In the last few years they have shown great professionalism in terms of promotion of the sport and brand. Yet another unknown is that even if sufficient funding did become available and if the whole thing did look feasible, what competing offers would be open to the IRF from bigger, wealthier countries? Larger capacities - and therefore the potential for more tickets to be sold - are the reason football stadiums are being used, so like the Olympics, as the event gets more expensive every four years, countries with more bigger capacity stadiums will have the advantage.


But even if against all the odds all these obstacles were overcome, the grounds at Pearse Stadium fall way short of the minimum requirements required. See Host Stadium Standards for Rugby League World Cup.pdf " for an idea of the minimum standards that any stadium will be likely to have to meet.


Waste Management
Even when there is an adequate supply of bins by Galway Corporation there is always litter left on both private and public property after events in Pearse Stadium. There is no control exercised over hawkers who are among the worst offenders when it comes to litter. Would this be swept up after the games at night or the following morning? If done at night there would be the noise of road sweepers and if left till the next day an increased likelihood of attracting vermin.

Property Values
Property values in a given residential area are a measure of the desirability of living in that area, which in turn is a measure of its amenity value. The loss of amenity which would result if this proposal was allowed would be reflected in depreciation in property values.



Watch the sun go down on Galway Bay.


One of the attractions for tourists and locals alike is to “watch the sun go down on Galway Bay”. In fine weather crowds watch and photograph the beautiful red sunsets made famous the world over by Bing Crosby’s song. Later in the summer the sun is actually seen as setting over land if viewed from Salthill. The proposed masts would damage this world famous visual amenity. They certainly would not be consistent with the importance attached to visual amenity in planning reference 97/386 which stipulated that “electricity, telephone and TV cables shall be laid underground in the interests of visual amenity”. The presence of such masts would also result in unwanted shadowing.


A note on the "Consultation Evening"


Their Floodlighting Assessment document (in section 7) gives their account of a so called "consultation evening" on November 2012.


We would like to clarify a few points. People reading brief press reports at the time or indeed reading their current documents in support of their application that the GAA met with councillors and local residents may be misled into thinking that councillors and residents met with the GAA at the same time. In fact the meeting with the councillors was separate and in secret before the meeting with the residents. In the main, the local residents did not attend as past experience caused them to have little faith in anything the County Board or its committees might say in relation to Pearse Stadium. Instead they had their representatives go along to hear what was said and report back.

In summary the report on the "information evening" was that the GAA are to submit another application for floodlights at Pearse Stadium. Based on the information given it is the same application as before except that the four masts for floodlights of the earlier applications are replaced by five of lower height in the next application. Despite claims to the contrary no other issues were addressed in any meaningful way. The traffic management plan put forward at this meeting was the same discredited one that has being resubmitted again and again since 1994, and in which they claim to have secured thousands of parking spaces on the playing fields of St. Enda's and St. Mary's colleges, as well as at the golf club. Photographs of all the information sheets they had on display on the night can be found at
http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/information-evening-29112012/. For the actual application this time they have finally dropped theses false claims and instead try gaining acceptance that off street park is not required and that on street parking is acceptable, in direct contradiction to the reasoning behind all the parking related conditions applied in the past.


We have no doubt that the principle purpose of the "information evening" was to conduct a box ticking exercise so that they could say they had consulted with local residents when it comes to submitting the application, regardless of the quality of that communication. On receiving notification of the "information evening" the local residents requested that rather than having people come in dribs and drabs, that the format be modified to include a formal presentation from the GAA and their experts of what they have in mind at a fixed time say 7 to 8pm at which the assembled residents, the GAA and their consultants could ask and answer questions of one-another. This should have presented no problem as their people were to be in place from 5 to 8pm anyway. However the request was declined. And while they would agree to a meeting at another time, they would only meet with a maximum of six representatives of the residents. Apparently the last thing they want is for the residents all to meet together and be in a position to put questions in a public assembly.



Previous Form
The GAA’s record in regard to adherence to conditions attached to previous planning applications for Pearse Stadium is not exactly squeaky clean. In fact it is abysmal. In our view, repeat offenders in the planning process should have onerous terms attached for non-compliance with any permission that might be granted or indeed not have any applications entertained until conditions attached to previous grants of permission have been complied with. Otherwise the planning process as in the case of Pearse Stadium could become a joke. Some local authorities have demanded that housing estates be demolished where conditions laid down were not complied with.

A search of the Planning Office’s database throws up an astonishing record of applications for retention of work carried out in breach of previous conditions.

Many conditions such as the one mentioned above for parking spaces have never being complied with. This also raises serious questions on the quality and level of checking for compliance and of enforcement by the local authority, particularly as the non-compliances have been raised several times by local residents.

The following summary of planning history for the site is not comprehensive but sufficient to show a history of non-compliant and unauthorised development. Many important conditions on the first file 94/541 are still not met.

Planning History
94/541 – Permission granted for construction of a new stand, revised pitch layout, new terracing, toilets, dressing rooms and ancillary facilities, including revised entrances and exits along southern and eastern perimeter boundary walls.

00/720 - Permission granted to retain and complete toilet block in revised location from previously approved permission 541/94.

05/322 - Permission for retention of revised entrances/turnstiles to southern south western boundaries


06/136 - Permission granted by Galway City Council for retention of revised entrances/turnstiles to southern/south-western boundaries.

06/250 - Permission granted by An Bord Pleanala for retention for increase in height of lift shaft block above that approved under Pl. Reg. Ref. No. 541/94. This decision upheld a decision by Galway City Council to grant retention for the development.

06/407 – Permission granted for retention of public information and health and safety signs to the southern/south western boundaries.


07/ 404 - Application for floodlighting withdrawn when could not come back with satisfactory answers to request for further information after incorrect statements in their application highlighted.


08/730 - Permission for retention for 2 no. communication aerials.


08/299 - Application for floodlighting withdrawn when document with forged garda signature highlighted.


09/17 - Permission for retention of signage


12/65 – Permission granted for retention of unauthorised scoreboard enclosure.


For years the GAA has flouted the planning laws in Pearse Stadium. Worse still the City Council has turned a blind eye to this and has refused to issue and enforce enforcement orders. No action has being taken against those who have breached the planning laws with impunity. Failure for the planning authority to act has been blamed on the court system, refusing to take enforcement action in case it is overruled by the courts. This is highly undesirable and an indication that either planning and legal regulations are being misinterpreted or in need of reform.

Taking just one application as an example, that with planning reference 541/94 for the stand has several violations. Condition 3 (a) stated that parking facilities for 500 cars shall be available at Aus Bothar na Tra for all sporting events. Condition 3 (c) stated that the additional car parking facilities for up to 1500 cars proposed at Colaiste Einde grounds shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities outlined at (a) above are inadequate to meet the needs of these events. There was years of wrangling with residents before steel grillage was put on the rear of the stand. Unauthorised signs were put up. Extra entrances and exits were put up without permission. The triangular area on the South Eastern corner opposite the main entrance was to be kerbed, top soiled, grassed and planted with semi-mature trees (minimum 15 ft. high). All of this was brought to the attention of the City Council several times, always with the same result. That is no result.


Previous Conditions laid down that indicate how important it was considered that the amenity of the area should be protected

Pitch of roof on houses at Na Cuilini to be reduced so that the ridge be lowered by at least 1 metre in order to reduce the overall height of the dwelling to ensure it will be compatible with the overall development of the area.

No shed or other structure was to exceed 2.5 metres in height in order to prevent excessive building density and protect the visual amenity of the area.

The attic was only allowed be used for storage to ensure it does not result in an excessive intensity of use of the site.

Electricity, telephone and TV cables shall be laid underground in the interests of visual amenity.

Two circular gable windows shall be omitted to maintain the amenity of adjoining lands.


Where else could guidance be found?

When looking for something similar that might offer guidance on how the proposed masts might be treated from planning perspective we thought that there was some similarity with the towers of modern wind turbines. With this in mind would you be allowed position four wind turbines where it is proposed to place the masts? Definitely not. The idea would be turned down straight away on health and safety grounds.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Planning Guidelines for Wind Energy Development section 5.8 states “that although wind turbines erected in accordance with standard engineering practice are stable structures, best practice indicates that it is advisable to achieve a safety setback from national and regional roads, and railways of a distance equal to the height of the turbine and blade”. Such a standard should be an absolute minimum for the distance to the nearest houses and this condition is not satisfied.

The Department’s guidelines also address the question of proximity to Power lines in section 5.9. and notes that there is a statutory obligation to notify the electricity developer of any developments within 23 metres of any transmission or distribution line.
Section 6.8 says that “Turbine height is critical in landscapes of relatively small scale, or comprising features and structures such as houses and it must be carefully considered so as to achieve visual balance and not to visually dominate”.

The entire document is 119 pages long and contains many technical points which would be applicable to the current proposal and which are not addressed in the application lodged with Galway Corporation.


These structures could also be compared in some ways to giant telecommunications towers. Indeed we believe that the current application is only one of a series of applications that would be lodged if the first were to be granted permission. We do not doubt that a latter application would go in to have communications equipment attached to the masts. In fact we are informed that at least one mobile phone company has being told that masts will become available to them and it has been suggested to us that it would not even require planning permission. While not mentioned in this application this information is a further concern that would need to be addressed. If looking for other sources of guidance it could be appropriate to have a look at the Department of Environment’s publication “Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures - Guidelines for Planning Authorities (July 1996)”. This document again highlights the importance of any structure blending in with its surroundings and is not in favor of placing free-standing masts in a residential area or beside a school.

If the proposed masts were to fall for any reason they could potentially crash through any houses within 36.6 metres of their base. This becomes particularly important when you consider that these masts were specified in the initial application to be supposed to be able to withstand wind speeds of 52m per second (116 miles per hour) but according to Met Eireann wind speeds of 125 mph have being recorded in Ireland. The proposed attachments on top of each mast to hold the lights would act like sails to catch the wind and should winds approaching some of those already recorded occur, it does not bear thinking about. Is it only the mast that is rated to withstand wind speeds of 116 mph? We imagine that the attachment at the top could not, and that even the mast could not if the attachment was catching severe winds at such a height. The current version of the application fails to give any specifications in this regard and in view of the previous shortfall in specification against potential live conditions this is a very serious omission.



What's not in the report.

What cleaning and maintenance procedures are proposed? Regular cleaning of the floodlight glass would be required. ILE Technical report No. 7 (Institution of Lighting Engineers) stipulates an electrical and mechanical inspection regime with such checks as security of floodlight brackets. The application does not supply any documentation to explain how this is to be implemented. Would the lights be raised and lowered to carry out these procedures or would a huge crane lift a platform up to them? How often and by what route would such a crane if required gain access. If a platform is to be raised, how big is it? How often? For how long?


TV cameras would require a structure from which to operate. There is no mention of this in the report although their lighting expert at the information evening in November told us it would be necessary. At the moment a structure does be erected in front of the bedroom windows of a house in the Cuilini. There is no planning permission for this, and it is not acceptable to the residents.


There is no mention of the safety concerns found in the Slattery report or what work would need to be done to rectify them.


A Bat Study would be appropriate to ensure no disturbance of protected species as required by Irish and European law.


No measurements for potential noise levels is included.


No shadow map.


No technical specifications on masts in terms of load bearing, carrying capacity, wind carrying etc that can be tolerated.


No specifications on geology to detail ground conditions in which foundations would be placed.


In terms of crowd control, are patrons all expected to arrive at once or over what period would their arrival be expected to spread?



In Conclusion.
The residents oppose this application as inappropriate to the location, out of scale and character with, and damaging to residential amenity in terms of light, noise, intensity and timing of use, inadequacy of traffic flow and management, lack of parking, health and safety concerns, conflict with previous planning conditions and city development plan, poor aesthetics and overshadowing by masts and associated structures, risk of fatal injury from falling objects as the columns would be too close to residential property and overbearing, loss of privacy, general disruption and injury to our quality of life, as well as incorrect and insufficient documentation supplied and omissions from that documentation, and existing non-compliances at the site. It would be damaging to the general health of local residents. While the nuisance and stress of it would affect all residents it would be particularly disturbing for children trying to sleep. Some may argue that some of the individual objections in themselves are insufficient reason to reject the application. However, it is potential cumulative human impacts that must be considered. Others, judged against the serious consequences should a mishap occur, no matter how improbable that occurrence might be judged, would of themselves demand that any reasonable evaluation would lead to a conclusive and emphatic rejection of the application. The applicants imply a potential economic benefit from their proposal without any facts or even suggestions as to how it would be realised. A thorough examination of the facts shows their implications in this regard are without foundation and traffic congestion, taking over of parking spaces reserved for patrons of local businesses and noise nuisance would in fact have negative consequences on several local businesses.


For all the above reasons the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and should be refused. The bottom line is that Pearse Stadium is in the wrong place for this kind of development.


Yours sincerely,

Noel Molloy
Rockbarton Road and Rockbarton Green and Reveagh Road Residents



Appendix

Bus Eireann Time Table http://www.buseireann.ie/pdf/1360756547-401.pdf


Host Stadium Standards for Rugby League World Cup.pdf

http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/



New Application Number 1397

The planning application number 1384 was invalidated because scales showing heights of lights or distances to boundaries etc were either missing or incorrect.

The GAA re-submitted the application on Tuesday, April 2nd, so the clock restarts from then. The new application reference number is 1397. It appears to be otherwise the same detail as submitted in march.

Another Planning Application for Floodlights Lodged

The planning application for Pearse Stadium was lodged last Friday (March 22) with the address as

Pearse Stadium
Attithomasrevagh Td.
Salthill


The file number in the planning office is 13/84.

But as of 5 pm 27/03/2013 nothing has being scanned into the file yet.

Report on Information Evening of November 29th, 2012

The battle lines are being redrawn again as the GAA County Board prepares to submit yet another planning application for floodlighting to allow night time activity at Pearse Stadium.

Previous attempts have floundered when false information or forged documents or signatures included in the GAA's submissions to the planning office were publicly exposed. This time round they have cleared house so to speak, with new members on the County Board and Pearse Stadium committee. They have drafted in the politicians with Councillor Donal Lyons on the Pearse Stadium Committee and former Fianna Fail Deputy Noel Tracy as secretary of the County Board.

On Thursday November 29th the GAA held an "information evening" on which we would like to clarify a few points. People reading brief press reports that the GAA met with councillors and local residents may be misled into thinking that councillors and residents met with the GAA at the same time. In fact the meeting with the councillors was separate and in secrete before the meeting with the residents. In the main the local residents did not attend as past experience caused them to have little faith in anything the County Board or its committees might say in relation to Pearse Stadium. Instead they had their representatives go along to hear what was said and report back.

In summary the report is that the GAA are to submit another application for floodlights at Pearse Stadium. Based on the information given it is the same application as before except that the four masts for flood lights of the earlier applications are replaced by five of lower height in the next application. Despite claims to the contrary no other issues were addressed in any meaningful way. The traffic management plan is the same discredited one that has being resubmitted again and again since 1994, and in which they claim to have secured thousands of parking spaces on the playing fields of St. Enda's and St. Mary's colleges, as well as at the golf club. Photographs of all the information sheets they had on display can be found at http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/information-evening-29112012/.

We have no doubt that the principle purpose of the "information evening" was to conduct a box ticking exercise so that they could say they had consulted with local residents when it comes to submitting the application, regardless of the quality of that communication. On receiving notification of the "information evening" the local residents requested that rather than having people come in dribs and drabs, that the format be modified to include a formal presentation from the GAA and their experts of what they have in mind at a fixed time say 7 to 8pm at which the assembled residents, the GAA and their consultants could ask and answer questions of one-another. This should have presented no problem as their people were to be in place from 5 to 8pm anyway. However the request was declined. And while they would agree to a meeting at another time, they would only meet with a maximum of six representatives of the residents. Apparently the last thing they want is for the residents all to meet together and be in a position to put questions in a public assembly.

The GAA, its County Board or Pearse Stadium committee have never apologised for their misdeeds. The best they could do under pressure from residents is concede that some things might not always have being done properly in the past but that they will behave themselves from now on. However there remains a big gap between what they say and how they act.

They have not published any report on their internal investigation on the matter of the forged garda signature. For that matter neither has the City Council. Old habits die hard and breeches of planning laws continue under the new County Board and Pearse Stadium committee as they did with the old. Following complaints from locals the City Council issued an enforcement order to halt work earlier this year on unauthorised construction. However that is as far as it went. The local authority seems to still be as impotent as ever in dealing with planning issues at Pearse Stadium. The GAA just ignored the order and continued work until they were finished. After which the the local authority then lifted the order and took no action what ever against those breaking the law. Some things just never seem to change. As this occurred under the tenure of the present County Board and Pearse Stadium committee it seems only the names and faces have changed, the practices and habits have not.

As in the past the local residents depend on an informed public to see that justice is done and to reign in the worst excesses in dealings concerning planning matters at Pearse Stadium.

Feel free to Subscribe to our mailing list to be kept up to date on the goings on.

If any members of the public wish to send us information they can do so by emailing us at salthillresidents@gmail.com.

Stadium seek retention of unauthorised scoreboard enclosure

A site notice was posted today, 30/3/2012, (although dated a week ago), at the Rockbarton Road entrance to Pearse Stadium for retention of the enclosure around the scoreboard that was constructed without permission.

The planning authority has been informed that they continued to work on it after they received a warning letter. We await a response from the planning office on a number of questions regarding this.


I can not find any reference to it in the Planning Office's database. While we were informed that an enforcement order was issued ordering work to cease the work continued unhindered in spite of it. No action was taken by the Local Authority for this breach of enforcement order.

No change yet in GAA's attitude to the law.

During the second week of February 2012 the GAA continued their normal practice at Pearse Stadium of building without planning permission, probably expecting that the Local Authority would ignore it. And going on past form, why would they expect otherwise? However, on this occasion the planning office did issue an enforcement order for the unauthorised structure to be removed.

According to an email dated February 14th from the Planning Office, "the Trustees of Pearse Stadium, namely, Pat Egan, Michael O'Huiginn, Joseph McDonagh, Tomas O'Ceallaigh, Proinis De Burca & Bearnard O'Concublair have been served with a Warning Letter pursuant to Section 152(1) of the Planning & Development Act 2000 requiring removal of the unauthorised scoreboard housing structure at the western end of Pearse Stadium. The situation is being monitored."

It will be interesting to see if the order is actually enforced.

Safety Audit: Pearse Stadium must reduce capacity or spent 250,000 to meet safety standards

A safety audit conducted for the GAA last February has indicated that several grounds need to dramatically reduce capacity or spent a lot of money upgrading to meet acceptable safety standards.

In the case of Pearse Stadium the report recommends a capacity reduction from 33,000 to 26,197, or work to upgrade it costing in the region of €250.000.

It seems to be a similar story at grounds right across the country.

Plans for centres of excellence also put on hold at Multyfarnham in Westmeath and Athenry in Galway at least (and probably several other places around the country) due to lack of finances. Like all the other big developers they got over ambitious in their expansion plans and the banks can no longer turn a blind eye to the late loan repayments.



http://www.roscommonherald.com/news/kfcwgbojey/
29 November 2011

Provincial finals under threat as Hyde faces capacity reduction
By Noel Fallon

ROSCOMMON COUNTY Board remains hopeful that Hyde Park will host future Connacht finals despite a report released last week which recommended a reduction of almost 15,000 in the capacity of the Roscommon town stadium. County board secretary Brian Stenson believes the issues raised in the Slattery Report can be addressed and he is confident the first-round Connacht championship match between Roscommon and Galway next May is not under threat.

The Slattery Report recommended that the capacity at Hyde Park be reduced from 33,612 to 18,890. It would mean Hyde Park wouldn’t be able to host Connacht finals, which normally attract crowds of well over 20,000. For example, the attendance at this year’s final in Hyde Park was 25,609.

The report was conducted on behalf of the GAA into health and safety issues at inter-county grounds. The report recommends reductions in capacities at many famous venues throughout the country. A decrease in the capacities of all five of the leading grounds in Connacht have been recommended but crucially the reductions at McHale Park, Castlerea and Pearse Stadium, Galway - the other two grounds which can host Connacht finals --will not prevent them staging provincial finals. Under the recommendations of the report McHale Park would decrease from 36,764 to 28,187 and Pearse Stadium’s capacity would fall from 33,000 to 26,197.
“There isn’t a threat to the Roscommon-Galway match but if this plan is implemented it will put paid to Connacht finals taking place in Hyde Park. However, I’m confident it won’t come to that,” the county board secretary maintained. “We have had communication from Slattery’s and the figures quoted in the newspapers are accurate. However, this report from Slattery’s is a draft and the figures aren’t cast in stone,” Mr Stenson emphasised. “The plan is there to rectify the issues which have been highlighted in the report. We can get the capacity back up to 30,000 with proper efforts. It will take a few years to do all the work as the finance isn’t there to do it in one shot but we can reach a capacity of 25,000 handily enough and that would accommodate most Connacht finals.

“The Slattery Report was conducted last February and some of the problems had been sorted out by the Connacht final in July so the report didn’t come as a shock. We have been working on a plan and we hope to meet with Slat-tery’s and Croke Park officials soon to discuss the report but we need to get the ownership of Hyde Park sorted out first. “I’m confident the ownership issue will be sorted out within the next six weeks. It’s very hard to go to Croke Park officials with a plan if we don’t own the ground,” he explained.
“One of the recommendations in the reports is that there aren’t enough exits on the main stand side of the ground. Everyone in the seated area in front of the stand and the stand itself is potentially going out the one exit on to the County Home road. We know not everyone goes out that exit but we have no way to prove not all the spectators go out that way.

“There is a similar problem on the Athlone Road side of the ground. We know what the capacity is on that side of the ground but the report pointed out that we haven’t any way of knowing when the standing area has reached its capacity so in the report the capacity of that area has been reduced considerably. The report is also seeking more walkways in the concrete seats in front of the main stand to allow people to walk up and down rather than across,” the secretary said.


http://hoganstand.com/ArticleForm.aspx?ID=159102

High cost for Galway ground upgrades

09 December 2011
Pearse Stadium Galway
Galway county board treasurer Bernie O'Connor has revealed that it would take a considerable amount to upgrade their main grounds.

The safety audit that took place all over the country revealed that Pearse and Tuam Stadiums as well as Ballinasloe needed considerable work in order to retain their full capacities.

However, O'Connor revealed that the cost of upgrading Pearse Stadium to such a standard would be in the region of a quarter of a million.

"The figure for Pearse Stadium is €250,000 - Tuam and Ballinasloe have also been audited but we haven't got the figures back for those," stated O'Connor.

Feile na nGael 2011

Feile na nGael 2011 national hurling and camogie finals take place in Pearse Stadium over the weekend June 24-26th. 1500 underage players plus up to 7,000-8,ooo supporters and officials will be taking part. We wish everyone involved well and hope it will be a successful event for all the competitors, organisers and spectators. We would ask that people coming to Pearse Stadium for the event be considerate of local residents when looking for parking and that the same consideration be given when using the public address system.

Connacht Rugby are to erect temporary stands at the Sportsground

http://www.sportsnewsireland.com/rugby_irish/28940/

J Naughton, 1 June 2011

spacer

Connacht Rugby are to erect temporary stands at the Sportsground in Galway next season in order to cater for the 7,500-strong capacity crowds which are expected to attend the provinces three home pool games in the Heineken Cup.

As Leinster won the Heineken Cup and Munster were successful in the Magners League,Ireland received an extra place in the Heineken Cup next season and Conacht are set to compete in the competition for the first time.

At one stage it had been suggested that the games might be moved to Galway GAA’s Pearse Stadium but Connacht Rugby officials have now ruled out moving the high-profile games to another venue. Instead they plan to follow a similar plan to that which allowed them to cater for 7,500 fans during last year’s Amlin cup semi-final against French club Toulon.

“We would normally be selling our season tickets earlier, but we took a gamble by holding off in order to see how the final would go,” said Connacht Rugby chief executive Gerry Kelly.

“Mind you, at half-time . . . it didn’t look as though we would be playing in the Heineken Cup next season. It will be a challenge on and off the field for us. We would have had three Amlin Cup games at home anyway, but now we can expect these three Heineken Cup games and the three interprovincial games to sell out next season. It makes the season tickets great value, bearing in mind that the cost of them is slightly down on last year.”

GAA softening up their followers for Rugby in Pearse Stadium?

Gerry Larkin, Secretary of Galway GAA County Board has just been on Galway Bay FM with Keith Finnegan, this morning (6/5/11) discussing rumours that ruby matches could be played in Pearse Stadium. He stated that no formal discussions had taken place on this but refused to confirm or deny if informal discussions had taken place. All such discussions if they were to take place would do so through the county board secretary.

He also stated that Pearse Stadium was in good shape financially and had no difficulty in meeting financial commitments. Guts of 1 million euro could be available if required for lights.

Planning process for lights while delayed is still under way. Temporary lights could be brought in if required in the meantime, as was done for the Australian rules game in 2006.


So it looks like they are preparing GAA followers to open up Pearse Stadium to Rugby (and probably anyone else that will pay them) and this is another reason they want lights in Pearse Stadium. From our perspective we could beheading for the nightmare scenario of effectively full time evening/night activities in Pearse Stadium with no relent from all the consequent problems.

Pearse Stadium moved to Market Street?

Allianz Hurling League Galway v Wexford
Hurling

Galway will play Wexford in the Allianz Hurling League at Pearse Stadium in Galway City on Sunday 13th February at 2:30pm.

Pearse Stadium is located on Market St in Galway city. Extra traffic can be expected in the city before and after the event. (As reported on AA Roadwatch.)

The Answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

Out and about, walking the Prom in Salthill last Sunday, the contrast between the beautiful calm day with hardly a ripple on the sea and the more dramatic weather conditions of the few days previous was amazing. The main evidence of the earlier turbulence was the seaweed strewn over the footpaths. It does not take long for the cabin fever to set in when conditions are bad nor for the spirits to raise when they improve again. At such times everybody seems to get out into the fresh air again at the same time and lots of neighbours who have not met up for a while suddenly all meet together.

Of course a topic of conversation was the weather. People had either seen for themselves or seen the TV news footage of the damage caused by the wind to the roof of the stand at Pearse Stadium. People in Pearse Stadium had to move their cars outside the stadium and abandon the office for safety. People had a common thought; "thank God no one was hurt, and thank God there were no banks of lights on top of massive high pillars, because unlike cars we could not move our houses or schools out of the way". Unfortunately, floodlights can blow down. One of the floodlights in Mervue blew down the same day the roof in the Stadium was damaged. And while the winds at the time were strong, they were nowhere near record levels.

The local residents around Pearse Stadium are extremely disappointed to learn that the Galway GAA County Board are apparently preparing to submit yet another planning application for Floodlighting at Pearse Stadium. The approaches to our members in recent days to sign a petition to support any future application to be made for Pearse Stadium has caused some upset. The requests for signatures has prompted people to ask what's the story on another notorious signature?

It is just over a year since the episode with the forged garda signature on the last planning application submitted by the County Board for Pearse Stadium. At that time GAA County Board expressed shock and surprise at the discovery that someone in their organisation or acting on their behalf had committed a criminal offence. Incredulous as it may seem the County Board and the Pearse Stadium Committee were either unable or unwilling to say who was responsible. Our view is that the County Board are responsible as the application was submitted in their name and on their behalf, and they have offered no explanation that would allow anyone take another view.

At the time a spokesperson for the GAA and Pearse Stadium told the local press that "We have received and are looking over documents and copies of documents at the moment. We are holding a full and thorough investigation, which involves members of the Stadium Committee's board and county officials. We hope to get to the bottom of this very quickly and would like to see this resolved sometime within the next week or two". A year and more has now passed and no explanation has been given to the local residents, GAA supporters and followers, or the general public.

In view of the fact that they appear to be preparing to submit another application, we have asked them to tell us what was the outcome of their investigations and await their reply with interest.

A spokesman for the the local planning authority also indicated at the time, under pressure from the Gardaí, that they would carry out an investigation into the same matter. However, when we asked for similar information of them, they refused to confirm whether or not such an investigation had even taken place, not to mind what the outcome was. This is not the first time that the local authority has refused to answer questions relating to planning matters at Pearse Stadium. Just one of several examples centres on the triangular tarmacked area outside the stadium gates to where staff moved their cars to avoid damage from the falling roof debris. A planning condition laid down by the authority itself was that this area was to be landscaped in a particular manner. Yet when the local residents asked questions they refused to say why this condition was allowed to be ignored. They stated merely that "It was decided to change that", and refused to say who decided, on what grounds, under what authority or when it was decided.

We are well aware that the majority of people outside the immediate area do not care very much about what happens at Pearse Stadium. However, we would ask that if they are approached by anybody on either side of the issue that they would try to inform themselves of the facts before taking sides. If anyone is genuinely interested in the truth about what is happening there, there are at least two sources of information. The planning files held by the local authority and this blog site.

Despite all the talk of openness and transparency, not everyone is prepared to answer questions of public concern. Perhaps some of our local politicians or journalists might succeed in getting answers where the local residents have failed.

Part of roof of stand in Pearse Stadium blown down.

2.30 pm Thursday, February 3, 2010.
GAA people at Pearse Stadium have moved their cars outside the stadium to avoid damage to them from falling roof parts, and abandoned the offices. Thank God no high floodlights there today. We could not move our houses or schools out of the way if they came down.

Fortunately, there was also no one hurt in Mervue where one of the floodlights there was blown down.



Garda Blitz on Illegal Parking at County Hurling Final ............31/10/10

Many people continue to ignore garda warnings to park legally when attending games in Pearse Stadium. Despite the publicity surrounding the issuing of some parking tickets a couple of weeks ago, and depite several garda warnings in the local press and radio, many GAA fans again totally ignored the law. However, this time a lot of them have to pay the price as the gardaí carried out their threats to impose fines for breechs of the law. It looked like hundreds of tickets were issued during the County Hurling finals.

Parking Tickets: Applying the Law 2 .............. 29/10/10

We wish to respond to the letter titled “Parking tickets an anti-GAA vendetta” in last week’s edition of the Galway City Tribune. The author takes issue with both the Gardaí and the City Council for enforcing the law and asserts that whoever gave direction to the Gardaí to enforce the law around Pearse Stadium “is guilty of a blatant attack on the GAA organisation itself and on its law-abiding supporters”. Does the writer of that letter not see how illogical his statements are? Law abiding supporters were not targeted, only those who parked illegally. He also seems to advocate not paying road tax which whether we like it or not motorists are obliged to do under current legislation. I wonder where he stands on forging garda signatures?

He correctly makes the point that Pearse Stadium has no dedicated parking facilities and draws the strange conclusion that therefore traffic laws and safety should be ignored. He correctly identifies benefits arising from GAA activities including in areas where he claims crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour are on the increase. But is blocking roads and driveways not antisocial as well as illegal?

As to his final paragraph, the Gardaí have no questions to answer in how they conducted themselves. They carried out their duty in a professional manner and of their own accord and have the full support of the local residents.

As Enda Cunningham reported in the Connacht Sentinel a garda spokesperson told the paper that despite countless warnings “motorists have been ignoring those warnings, and have parked blatantly breaking the law on double yellow lines and on footpaths, so there was a crackdown. In some areas, it would have been impossible for emergency services to get through and that is not acceptable”.

The Gardaí put out traffic bollards to control the situation even where there are already yellow lines. They made announcements on local radio warning people of the consequences of disobeying the law. We have every sympathy for orderly GAA supporters who encounter parking and traffic problems due to the Pearse Stadium’s inappropriate location, but not for the law breakers.


Noel Molloy

Rockbarton Road & Rockbarton Green Residents


Parking tickets: Applying the law 1 ................... 29/10/10

There was so much specious argument in B Naughton's diatribe against the parking tickets given out during the County Senior and Intermediate football finals on October 17th, that it's hard to know where to start in formulating a response ("Parking tickets 'an anti-GAA vendetta'", Letters to the Editor, October 22nd).
Special pleading, non sequiturs, red herrings, straw men, appeals to common practice: all present and incorrect, with some absurd allegations and crackpot conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure. It's just as well your correspondent didn't mention Cromwell, the Black & Tans and Béal na mBláth.

According to B Naughton, the issuing of parking tickets was a "mean-spirited, money-grabbing, opportunistic action" instigated by Gardai and unnamed others, who should feel "shame" in "scraping the bottom of the barrel for short-term financial gain".

This unwarranted, and it seems totally unexpected, operation was nothing less than a "vendetta" and a "blatant attack" not just on the Gaelic Athletic Association itself but also on its "law-abiding [sic] supporters", and may well have been prompted by a "direction" from unidentified "elements" lurking within the "Galway equivalent of D4", aka Salthill.

"An explanation from the Gardai is called for", the letter concludes. You can almost hear a pulpit being thumped.

B Naughton need not wait imperiously and impatiently for such an explanation, and can save time (perhaps getting an education in the process) by looking up the section on parking in the Rules of the Road, pages 116-118. Being a motorist, B Naughton presumably has a copy as well as a driving licence.

There is nothing complicated or onerous about what's required to avoid being issued with a parking ticket.

B Naughton's state of stratospheric indignation seems to be based on the nonsensical arguments that (a) parking legally and attending a GAA match may be mutually exclusive activities, (b) if a putative conflict arises between attending a GAA match and having "no option but to park somewhere", then attending the GAA match takes priority over parking legally, (c) because the GAA is doing great work then motorists attending a GAA match can be given a special exemption from road traffic law, and (d) ignoring this mythical exemption and issuing parking tickets therefore constitutes an attack on the GAA and its supporters.

Perhaps the only part of B Naughton's letter that had the ring of truth was the statement that the incident was "quite typical of the way law is enforced in this country".

A couple of disgruntled GAA supporters complained on the hoganstand.com website about getting parking tickets while at the match on October 17th. "Why have they [the Gardai] never done it before?" asked one. "I park there for every Galway game and have never got a ticket before."

Another complained that he had being ticketed for the first time despite having been "in a spot I have been parking in for 20 years".

There is the nub of the problem: inconsistency and misuse of the power of discretion. The Gardai have been routinely ignoring illegal parking, most especially on footpaths, for years on the spurious grounds that such illegal, dangerous and anti-social behaviour is acceptable during "special occasions", despite the inevitable discommoding and endangering of pedestrians, among them children, vision-impaired people, disabled people in wheelchairs and older people who may need support to walk.

Senior management in the City Council apparently share the same perspective, despite not having a single written policy or set of laws to underpin their seemingly recurring practice of subordinating pedestrian rights in order to maximise the convenience of motorists.

Given such inconsistent and imbalanced enforcement, is it any wonder that so many motorists seem to believe they are free to park on footpaths and in other dangerous locations, and are then outraged on the rare occasions that they are legitimately ticketed?

Interestingly, B Naughton's address was given as Clybaun Road, Knocknacarra. That is a mere 3 km or so from Pearse Stadium, a perfectly manageable walk (or cycle) for an able-bodied person.

While Pearse Stadium itself does not have off-street parking (albeit that local school grounds are often made available on such occasions), there is legal on-street parking along many public roads within, say, a 2 km radius.

That means it is perfectly possible for able-bodied GAA fans to park legally elsewhere and walk to the stadium, leaving parking spaces nearer the stadium available for those who have legitimate reasons to park there, e.g. senior citizens who may not qualify for a disabled parking permit.

Or is the thought of walking a couple of kilometres an appalling vista for some sports fans? If so, there is something very unedifying about lazy, inconsiderate and ignorant motorists parking their cars wherever they please so they don't have to walk very far to get to a Gaelic match, where they purport to join in a public celebration of the consummate physical fitness, discipline and fair play epitomised by the GAA at its best, and as rightly acknowledged by B Naughton.

Simon Comer
PRO
Community Road Safety Action & Information Network (Cosain)
Galway

Resident's complaints about illegal parking sees Gardaí target fans at football final.

The following text by Enda Cunningham appeared under the above headline in the Connacht Sentinel of October 19th.

Gardaí launched a major crackdown on illegally parked cars around Pearse Stadium in Salthill during the County Football Finals on Sunday afternoon, when up to 50 cars were ticketed.

The swoop came on foot of numerous complaints from local residents about dangerous parking and driveways being blocked.

Gardaí placed notices on up to 50 cars on Threadneedle Road, Dr. Mannix Road, in Rockbarton and the Oaklands, Devon, Dalton and Glenard estates during the County Senior and Intermediate Finals on Sunday afternoon advising motorists that they will be issued with a parking fine of é40 in due course.

A Garda spokesperson told the Sentinel: "There have been a lot of complaints during the last few matches about parking, and we have warned people countless times to park in the designated car parks."

"Motorists have been ignoring those warnings, and have parked blatantly breaking the law on double yellow lines and on footpaths, so there was a crackdown."

"In some aeas, it would have been impossible for emergency services to get through and that is not acceptable," the spokesperson said.

For years, residents in the estates adjacent to the stadium have been complaining to the GAA and the Gardaí in relation to illegal parking on match days.

The concerns range from driveways being blocked to entire roadways being rendered impassable by people "abandoning" cars.

Application for Floodlights withdrawn again.....July 2010

Planning Application for Floodlights withdrawn by GAA County Board again, (but only to be resubmitted for a third time.)

The following report by Declan Rooney, reproduced in its entirety appeared in the Galway Independent of July 7th, 2010 under the heading “Floodlights put on Hold"

A new planning application is to be lodged in an effort to have floodlights installed at Pearse Stadium. Galway County Board, after a number of unsuccessful attempts to get the green light for the project, has decided to restart the Pearse Stadium floodlights planning application from scratch.

An independent review of the application by CSR Ltd planning consultants advised the County Board and Pearse Stadium Development Committee to restart the process with a clean slate and to deal with the concerns of the local residents.

The floodlights' application has met with opposition from some local residents and a Garda investigation was launched after a complaint was made about one aspect of a document.

A statement released by the Galway County Board indicated that the review has already been completed by CSR Ltd and that a new application will soon be lodged.

"Their brief was to review all paper work submitted to and received by the County Board including objections and concerns from local residents. CSR Ltd has now completed this exercise and have made their recommendations to the Galway County Board who will be withdrawing the current planning application shortly," said the statement.

As well as the Pearse Stadium project, CSR have been involved in other projects for the GAA including floodlight applications for Casement Park Belfast; Pairc Esler Newry Co Down; the Ulster provincial ground at St Tiernach's Park, Clones, County Monaghan and Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan town.

"It was the unanimous view of the Galway County Board's stadium committee that the planning application be withdrawn and that a fresh planning application be submitted dealing with concerns raised by both residents and the City Council," added the statement.

Chairman of the Galway County Board, Gerry Larkin, confirmed that the application had been withdrawn at that the board hoped to satisfy all the recommendation that they received.

"We are taking the recommendations on board from CSR Ltd and from the residents," Mr. Larkin said. "If we are to proceed, we want to answer any query or any question or concern that anyone might have. We want to do things right, correct and within the law."

In response to the above article we comment as follows.

While we are disappointed that the GAA are insisting on continuing with plans for floodlights at Pearse Stadium we are not surprised. It is not the first time they have used this tactic of withdrawing an application and resubmitting it as a new one. While they are exempted from planning fees, the local residents will be forced once again to pay to voice their opinions on what happens where they live. Of course the disgraced County Board also wants any reference to fraudulent documents or forged signatures removed from the planning file under consideration. The most disappointing aspect of the whole affair apart from the dishonesty of the GAA is the response of the local planning authority which has failed to take any appropriate action against the GAA no matter what way they abuse the planning process. We are of the opinion that the current criminal investigation into a forged garda signature is not the only investigation that should be conducted. A full, independent review of all planning applications submitted for Pearse Stadium over the years should be conducted by an independent expert. We have yet to decide whether or not to formally ask the Minister for the Environment to have such a review conducted.

We note the irony of the County Board announcing their intention to persist with the plans for floodlights under the guise of a new planning application at the same time as the GAA’s Director General, Paraic Duffy, admits that live TV coverage is a significant factor in falling attendances. In David Kelly’s article “GAA look at cutting TV games to boost crowds” in the Irish Independent of July 2nd he is quoted “Regarding revenue, obviously there’s an issue. Attendances are part of your income, but there are other sources like TV money, sponsorship and the Irish Sports Council.” Local business people should be aware that what is most profitable for GAA coffers is not necessarily best for local businesses. Indeed if Mr. Duffy’s comments are correct, (and we believe they are), then the presence of floodlights at Pearse Stadium would result in reduced business activity in Salthill and Galway City.

Even within the GAA itself, questions should be asked. If the Floodlights were installed what levies would be imposed on clubs in the county and what extra fundraising would they be required to do to pay for the massive white elephant? Has the County Board spelt this out for all these clubs, or is this just one more thing they have failed to be up front about?


Pearse plans hit skids as gardai to probe 'forged signature'

As reported by Cliona Foley Irish Independent Tuesday January 19, 2010


SERIOUS doubts have been raised about Galway GAA County Board's application for floodlights at Pearse Stadium, Salthill after a sensational allegation, by gardai, that a garda signature on one part of the paperwork was forged.

A senior member of the gardai has asked the GAA and Galway City Council to investigate a signature -- purporting to be that of a garda -- which was submitted on a document by the Pearse Stadium Development Committee as part of a planning application for floodlights, to which there have been heavy and lengthy objections.

The signature at the centre of the investigation is believed to be on the end of an official document from Pearse Stadium regarding transport and traffic arrangements during big matches and concerts.

Superintendent Noel Kelly of Salthill Garda Station has advised Galway City Council that the signature is not his nor that of his inspector or sergeant, and has asked them to establish who signed the document.

The document was submitted as an attachment to another official letter from An Garda Síochána which, it has been established, was genuinely signed by a garda.

The Galway City Council have written to Galway GAA County Board seeking clarification on the matter.

The Chairman of the Pearse Stadium Development Committee, Frank Burke, said that he was "extremely shocked" by the allegation and denied any knowledge of the document in question.

"I have absolutely no knowledge of this document and can say, certainly, that nobody was authorised by our committee to interfere with any document, nor would we ever countenance such an action under any circumstance," he said.

Burke said his committee will immediately investigate the matter and will start by seeking a copy of the documentation.



Planning probe into signature of 'Garda' on GAA document

http://www.galwaynews.ie/10706-planning-probe-signature-garda-gaa-document As reported by City Tribune January 15, 2010





Validity of controversial Pearse Stadium application questioned by Superintendent

A senior Garda has ordered the GAA and Galway City Council to investigate a signature – purporting to be that of a Garda – which was submitted on a document by the Pearse Stadium Development Committee as part of a contentious planning application for floodlights at the stadium.

The Council has now called on the GAA to prove the validity of the traffic management plan document, and demanded to know who signed it and when.

The signature at the centre of the investigation is contained at the end of an official document from Pearse Stadium regarding transport and traffic arrangements during big matches and concerts.

Superintendent Noel Kelly of Salthill Garda Station called to the Planning Department at Galway City Council on January 6 to view the “alleged document”, after a report was made by a member of the public.

He has since written to the Council advising that the signature is not his, his Inspector’s or his Sergeant’s, and ordered them to establish who signed the document.

The document was submitted as an attachment to an official letter from An Garda Síochána, which was signed by Sergeant Karen Maloney of Salthill Station.

In his letter to the Council, Supt Kelly wrote: “At the Garda Station [the complainant] expressed concern over a document, which had been lodged by the Pearse Stadium Development Committee in response to queries from the Planning Office of Galway City Council. He believed that a Garda signature on the document entitled ‘Pearse Stadium – Transport/Traffic Arrangements’ was not correct.

“On the morning of January 6, 2010, I went to the planning section of Galway City Council to view the alleged document.

“Firstly, one has to view this document in conjunction with the letter from Sergeant Karen Maloney dated November 6, 2009. Sergeant Maloney had a phone conversation with [Tom Leonard of the Stadium Development Committee] to discuss traffic arrangements. The letter dated November 6, 2009 agrees with their traffic policy for all ‘major events’ held at Pearse Stadium. I have no problem with her [Sgt Maloney’s] letter.

“However, I have a concern with the document entitled ‘Pearse Stadium – Transport/Traffic Arrangements’ which is attached to Sergeant Maloney’s letter. This letter purports to be signed by a member of An Garda Síochána.

“The signature is not known to me. It is not mine; it is not my Inspectors or Sergeant Maloney’s signature. No other persons have authority to sign documents on behalf of An Garda Síochána. I would request that the source of the signature be established,” Supt Kelly wrote.

Now, the Council’s Director of Services for Planning, Tom Connell, has written to the Galway County Board pointing out that the documentation could be discounted unless its validity can be proven.


Response of Residents to the further information of 4/12/09 for file 08299.

We apologise in advance for the rushed nature of this submission. We believe we have been given inadequate time to make a totally comprehensive reply to the GAA’s “clarification”. However, we must do the best we can with the time allocated.
The text in this box is not to be taken as a summary of our submission. It is just to insure that the text of an e-mail we sent to the planning office on 4/1/09 is recorded for possible future reference.
“We intend sending in a submission on the clarification to file number 08/299 received by the planning office on 4/12/09.
However, we believe the scheduled decision date of 9/1/10 is too early; both from the point of view of fairness in allowing the right to make a considered and informed reply and based on the level of adherence to proper procedures by the applicant. We are aware of the weaknesses in the planning legislation with regard to when the clock is set running but should the Council agree that allowing us a little extra time is the right thing to do then we believe this can be safely achieved by the simple device of asking for a further clarification with a time limit of say one or two weeks. God knows there are many things that clarification could be sought on. As we mentioned before we are a bit concerned that requests for clarification are by and large confined to match numbers and a traffic management plan we have shown to be based on lies and misinformation when there are so many other issues that have been left unaddressed.
The site notice on the southern boundary wall is dated December 8th (although we do not believe it was posted on that date). No site notice was put up on Rockbarton Road (neither at the main entrance nor the corner of Rockbarton Road and Dr. Mannix Road). The letter of notification from City Council is dated 14/12/09, ten days after the clarification was received and received by us on the 16/12/09. The timing across the Christmas and New Year holidays, together with the extreme weather conditions mean we can not hold a residents' meeting until the 4/1/10. Indeed the planning legislation acknowledges that this time should not be counted by specifically excluding the time from December 24 to January 1st inclusive.
The applicant has in our view yet again failed to honestly or comprehensively answer the questions asked. They have resubmitted incorrect information which we have previously shown in detail to be false. Additional information includes documents supposedly signed on behalf of the Garda Síochána and we are meeting with the Gardaí to get some clarifications.
We note that no address or signature is attached to the cover letter with the "clarification" to indicate who it came from and so can you confirm whether or not there is something missing from the file”.

Once again the City Council Planning Office has had to request clarification from the GAA on their submission on floodlighting at Pearse Stadium. Once again the GAA have failed to give adequate answers to the specific questions asked. In response to the “clarification of further information” that the GAA County Board submitted to the planning office on December 4th we make the following comments and observations. For a complete picture this response should be read in conjunction with our previous submissions.
Once again they could be awarded top marks for brass neck and persistence but zero for honesty and integrity.
They continue to misrepresent the true situation by again submitting copies of a plan they presented several years ago and which has repeated been demonstrated to be based on false and misleading claims. It is frustrating to have to keep revisiting this. We can not understand why the City Council does not seem to have ever taken them to task on this nor made it clear that it is not acceptable. The question comes to mind, is it a criminal offence to deliberately make false or misleading statements in a planning application or supporting documentation?
We have dealt with their various versions of the traffic management plan extensively in previous submissions. But as they have again submitted this as a supposedly valid plan and claimed it was successfully implemented for the Connacht Final between Galway and Mayo we must again expose the continued deceit. The fact was that traffic on the day was horrendous and gridlocked for hours, as was reported in the local media such as Galway Bay FM.
Even within the staunchest GAA circles there is opposition to the proposal for lights at Pearse Stadium and embarrassment over the way in which the County Board is dealing with the issue. Many GAA supporters are of the same view as the local residents as to the inappropriateness of the location for large scale events.
The issue again was raised at the recent County Board Convention. As reported in City Tribune of December 25th, 2009, “County Board Treasurer Bernie O’Connor has launched a stinging attack on those who have made negative and derogatory statements regarding Pearse Stadium.
Speaking at the County Board Convention, O’Connor hit out at those who had bemoaned Pearse Stadium as the county’s premier GAA venue, particularly those around Tuam and North Galway area”.
“No doubt, there is a perception among many in the county that Pearse Stadium is hampered by its geographical location. Indeed, many in North Galway – and, indeed, visiting supporters – have alluded to the traffic and parking problems on big match days at the venue, as was underlined when Galway played Westmeath in a qualifier tie at the venue in 2006.”
No doubt indeed there is such a perception, and the perception is correct.
This was again reinforced for the Connacht Final. Take the very example that they are trying to claim as an example of how successful their traffic management plan is in practice. Yet again they make a claim with absolutely no evidence to support it. Let’s look at what actually happened on that day.
The most convenient way for us to do this is to include here a copy of a letter sent to the local press after the event. The unpublished letter is as follows.
“Traffic control arrangements for the Connacht Football Final in Pearse Stadium last Sunday.

It was great to see a crowd in Salthill again last Sunday. The crowd of over 27,000 Galway and Mayo supporters, reasonable weather and a thrilling finish brought a welcome boost to local business. The Gardaí were out in force and did a great job considering the geography of the area they had to control. Even the GAA got their act together and avoided parking their ticket sales vehicles across footpaths and they had an adequate number of stewards.

But despite everyone’s best efforts the day once again highlighted one unfortunate fact; the inappropriateness of the location of the Pearse Stadium in the middle of a residential area, and within a geographical area lacking the necessary infrastructure to allow proper management of the type of traffic such an event generates.

The Gardaí were really on the ball with barriers and traffic bollards up early and a large force of gardaí manning the barriers and patrolling inside them. Parking was controlled inside these barriers and very few of the residents had their driveways blocked compared to normal. They were also very efficient in removing the traffic bollards before the game even ended. We would not fault how the operation inside the barriers was conducted. One might question the cost of mounting such an operation on an ongoing basis, whether the man power can be spared or whether the GAA should continue to receive this service without making some contribution to the cost.

If we were to take issue with any aspect of the days events inside the zone surrounded by the garda barriers it would be with the control of litter. The most obvious manifestation of this was copies of a publication called “The Goalpost” thrown all over the place. We would suggest that this type of event is not suitable for the distribution of free publications of this nature as it leads to serious littering.

To our great surprise someone even thought to have buses laid on. Nine buses lined up on Rockbarton Road before the end of the game to take people to Eyre Square. Only four of these were filled despite an attendance of over 27,000. While the intention was good this can hardly be considered part of a successful traffic management plan. We hope that Bus Éireann did not lose money on this. Even if people did use the buses they would only be able to make one run in a reasonable time because of the traffic congestion outside the barriers. As it happens those that walked into town made the wiser decision as it took the buses two hours to reach Eyre Square.

While the gardaí had things under control within their zone of operations inside the barriers immediately around Pearse Stadium it was a different story outside this zone. Once again the GAA’s stated traffic management plan failed to materialize. Once again there was no match traffic parking at St Mary’s or Colaiste Éinde. Once again footpaths were blocked, cars parked on corners and double yellow lines, pedestrians forced to dodge traffic when forced off pathways onto to the roads. All that differed from normal was that this occurred outside the zone enclosed by the barriers. Instead of Rockbarton Road and Dr. Mannix Road it was now Devon Park and Taylors Hill down as far as Maunsells Road that were affected by these problems. The same old problems were just pushed out to the adjoining area. Threadneedle Road up to the roundabout leading to the new Knocknacarra Shopping centre was also affected. Traffic was bumper to bumper through Salthill and Galway Bay FM was broadcasting for people caught in traffic tailbacks to be patient coming into Galway.

But bad and all as traffic was coming into Salthill, it was when large numbers tried to leave at the same time that gridlock and serious frustration ensued. The match ended about 5.25pm. After 25 minutes the bulk of the crowd had dispersed on foot from the zone within the barriers. But then the traffic gridlock took hold. At 7.15 pm a bus driver with a load of visitors got out and stretched his legs as traffic on Threadneedle Road was not moving in either direction. It was the same in either direction through Salthill and into town. Three hours after the match ended at 8.20 pm (I do not know how much later) it was still bumper to bumper at a snail’s pace up Threadneedle Road. Of course when the traffic chaos eventually cleared here it had only moved out further from Salthill to outlying areas. There was still a tailback at Claregalway at 10 pm. On Monday morning Keith Finnegan of Galway Bay FM said he had never had so many complaints about traffic. One caller to his show said it took nearly two hours to get through Monegeshia Cross (the one where the round about was removed and replaced with “smart” traffic lights) because traffic in a different direction was been given priority.

When garda resources are tied up for an event like this and past history has repeatedly shown the level of illegal parking that takes place why do the City Council not pay their wardens a little overtime to deal with it? Surely in the present economic climate and a Council on the verge of bankruptcy potential revenue generating opportunities should be seized when they present themselves. I have a copy of a publication by Galway City Council entitled “Park Legally in Galway City” in which states that it is illegal to park in a way which interferes with traffic flow or obstructs or endangers other road users, for example:
On a footpath (either partly or wholly).
Within 5 metres of a junction.
Within 15 metres on the approach side of a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights.
Obstructing any entrance for vehicles except with the occupier’s consent.
At a school entrance.
On a grass margin or median strip.

The leaflet gives parking fines as €40-60 for a parking ticket. Clamp release fee of €80 and tow-away release fee of €165. The current fees might actually be higher now as it is some time since the leaflet was produced. Based on these figures and the level of illegal parking on Sunday the City Council could have issued tickets for tens of thousands of euros. We sympathize with the GAA supporters who do not have the parking and traffic management facilities that they should have when attending such events. We take issue with those within the GAA who claim to have viable parking and traffic management plans and lie in their applications for planning permissions at Pearse Stadium. We take issue with those within Galway City Council who go along with these lies and who fail to enforce existing planning conditions.
While it was a great day for sport and business it highlighted yet again the inappropriateness of the location for the activity. If the game had not started until 7.30 pm as proposed in the application for floodlighting at Pearse Stadium the problems would be even more severe. All else being equal the tailback at Claregalway would have shifted from 10pm to 2.30 am.”


The GAA’s response states that “the purpose of the (traffic management) plan is to allow free flow of traffic around the ground and if considered necessary around the city and to minimise the intrusion on local residents”. Apparently it is not always considered that free flow of traffic around the city is necessary but it does not explain the criteria for any decision on this. As for intrusion on the residents, who knows more about it than the residents themselves? And we say the level of intrusion is totally unacceptable.

The Gardaí obviously have as one of their priorities to keep motor traffic moving. There is nothing wrong in that. However, a consequence has been that pedestrians are ignored at the manned junctions and the only way they can cross is to risk cutting through the moving traffic putting them at risk. Someone has put a video of this on Youtube at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg3KGz-yQ-Q In order to facilitate traffic movement at junctions pedestrians were ignored and could only cross roads by skipping through the traffic.
We have previously detailed the misinformation about the availability, use and management of the claimed parking sites or rather the lack of same several times. Despite this they keep representing the same lies and the City Council seems to keep accepting it. We note that they again present letters from the managements of some of these sites dated 2008 despite our subsequently highlighting that the same managements were mislead about what was required or that the conditions attached made it impractical to use them. We will not go into it too much here as we have already given a very detailed account on each site in our previous submissions.
Again none of the car parks supposed to be operating for public parking were operating on the day. We attach a photograph of the entrance to Colaiste Einde showing the locked gates and the blocking by parked cars.

In every submission the GAA have made on this application they have tried to state or insinuate that they have Garda support and approval for their traffic management plan or even that the Gardaí authored the plan. This is despite our highlighting in our previous submissions that the Gardaí have told us that the plans produced by the GAA are ignored and they manage as best they can with the resources available to them on a given occasion. We also requested in our previous submissions that the planning office check this directly with the Salthill gardai and not just accept our word or that of the GAA for what is the truth of the matter. Have they done this?
A new development in their latest clarification is the production of two documents (in Appendix 3) supposedly signed by gardaí to support their contentions. The first is a general statement from the sergeant’s office stating “to whom it concerns, the transport/traffic arrangements as outlined by Pearse Stadium are in compliance with our normal arrangements”. We have confirmed with the Gardaí that this is a genuine document signed in good faith. We have also confirmed with the Gardaí that this statement relates to the notification of match details to the Gardaí in advance and is in no way to be taken as an approval or otherwise of any traffic management or other plan.
They claim to give notification of various details to the Gardaí about upcoming games by the Monday before any weekend games take place. In Appendix 2 they attempt to back this up with two examples. In both cases the evidence of their own documentation indicates otherwise. One document dated 14/10/09 gives details for a match on 17/10/09. The previous Monday was in fact 12/10/09 so even if it was handed to the Gardaí immediately on been written it would have been three days late according to the procedure they are claiming to have in place. The second document is dated 10/3/09 for a match on 15/3/09. Again later than allowed for by their stated procedure and we are sure a source of great delight to the Gardaí as they plan how to use their resources for St. Patrick’s weekend. Bear in mind that these two examples are their own hand picked examples.
The second document is a self congratulatory account of their traffic management plan co-signed by Pearse Stadium’s Tom Leonard and it would appear an unidentified member of the Garda Siochána. The squiggle used for the signature is such that one can not even guess at what name it represents. The names are not typed under the signatures but the words Garda Siochána are typed under the squiggle. Who is this mystery garda? Does he exist at all? If he does in what capacity did he sign the document? Unlike the first document this one contains no markings to indicate it bears any connection with any official garda correspondence. Is the squiggle made to be deliberately undecipherable? When we went to Pearse Stadium for clarification on this the other signatory Tom Leonard was unavailable for comment. By the time they receive this submission the Council will be well aware that the Garda Superintendent is conducting his own investigation of this matter.
Their contention that there is a bus service every fifteen minutes is incorrect as we detailed in a previous submission. On 4/1/2010 it was announced on the national news that Bus Eireann would be implementing a reduction in frequency in many routes to contain costs which may or may not affect the Salthill routes. Even if it were to be scheduled the grid lock experienced on days there is a large match attendance means it could not operate in practise. The Connacht Final example above where it took one and a half hours to get from Pearse Stadium to Salthill Church and two hours to get to Eyre Square clearly illustrates this. It is also worth pointing out that this game did not even have a capacity crowd. The attendance of a little over 27,000 was considerable short of the 34,000 capacity the Stadium is supposed to be able to handle. It was fortunate that there was no large scale emergency to contend with.
We reiterate out total objection to the application for floodlighting at Pearse Stadium.

Yours sincerely,
Noel Molloy
Rockbarton Road & Rockbarton Green Residents.



Same kind of carry on in McHale Park as in Pearse Stadium

It appears that the type of carry on in Pearse Stadium is not confined to Galway. The following press reports show that the same kind of disregard for the planning laws by the GAA occurs in Mayo also. The local authority there also seems to experience similar problems as Galway City Council when it comes to dealing with them.

Meeting hears officials accused of “collusion” in McHale Park Development

Mayo Advertiser, September 25, 2009. By Colm Gannon

The McHale Park planning row will roll on to the end of October following a meeting of Castlebar Town Council on Tuesday night. The special meeting had been convened to consider a motion put forward by Independent Councillor Frank Durcan which called on the council to refuse the granting of planning permission for the retention of the TV broadcasting tower at the multi million euro development at the ground. Following a robust debate Cllr Durcan withdrew his motion, to allow the planning process that is currently under way to continue until it is concluded, but on the proviso that the motion could be reintroduced at a later date and be put to the council again at a special meeting which has been arranged for October 22. Cllr Durcan said he was calling for the refusal of the retention of the planning permission for a number of reasons, but the councillor’s statement caused controversy in the chamber. “The Mayo County GAA board have treated the 2001 Planning Act, the 2001 Planning Regulations, the town plan, and the people of McHale Road and our own town with nothing but utter contempt,” Cllr Durcan told the meeting. “Obviously they could not have done so without collusion with officials of this council and Mayo County Council. The whole thing is suspect and it could not have happened if they had not got the nod from some high ranking official. The big question remains a mystery why weren’t the developers issued with the necessary enforcement notices, as other people doing similar kinds of development would be.” Mayor Michael Kilcoyne asked Cllr Durcan to reword his statement to take out the word collusion, but initially Cllr Durcan refused saying “I can’t. I’m prepared to stand over everything I said, and there is a court house over there and they can bring me to it and I’ll tell the judge.” Later on in the meeting town manager Seamus Granahan strongly rejected the inference that there was collusion between either him or his officials in relation to this application. “I have to take exception to the fact that it has been said that I or any of my officials have been involved in any kind of collusion,” Mr Granahan said. “I do take exception to that, I would like you to take the word out.” Mayor Kilcoyne once again asked Cllr Durcan to take back the word collusion, and Cllr Durcan finally relented after telling the meeting: “I’m not speaking about the manager personally, but someone was, I don’t know who. If it makes the manager happier I’ll take it out.” Motion withdrawn It was explained to the councillors that the section 140 motion that was before the meeting which would have seen the councillors take control of the whole planning application from the council planning officials could have serious implications for them. “I have obtained legal advice and one of the things the members have to be aware of is that if the members of the local authority take on the function of the town manager, they have to be au fait with all elements of the planning permission. This means dealing with every aspect of the planning permission including conditions and reasoning for having these conditions. The members also need to be aware that the manager can’t make a decision on a planning application for a five week period since it was received by law, and if this motion is passed it does not comply with that direction and the members have to ensure that they don’t leave the local authority and the members themselves open to litigation.” Following more discussion by the members Cllr Durcan withdrew the motion.

2KM Parking Ban Around Croke Park During Major Events 22/9/2009

A fresh plan to introduce a 2km parking ban around Croke Park during major events has been passed by Dublin City Council's transport committee.The scheme will become law if agreed by majority of councillors at a full monthly meeting.City officials had recommended scrapping the scheme because of the difficulty in enforcing it but at the insistence of councillors it went for a second period of public consultation.AdvertisementIt is now proposed that pay and display bays would be exempt from the bye-laws to allow access to hospitals, churches and businesses.Residents inside the cordon area would receive a parking permit and one visitor permit per major event day.Tim O'Sullivan, Traffic Department, said that around 16,500 residents' permits would have to be issued.The scheme would cost €200,000 to set up and €85,000 a year to operate.A number of councillors expressed concern at the cost and problems of policing.Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick, Fianna Fáil, said if this plan was allowed to die then the GAA would continue to refuse to take any responsibility for traffic management.She said the stadium operators made €20m last year and should be made to pay for the cost of the parking ban.

Castlebar Town Council withdraws part of McHale Park planning permission

As reported in Mayo Advertiser, September 18, 2009.By Colm GannonCastlebar

Town Council withdrew part of the planning permission for McHale Park at its monthly meeting last Thursday. The meeting, which was attended by a large number of the residents of McHale Road, but not by members of the Mayo County Board, saw a motion put forward by independent councillor Frank Durcan and seconded by fellow independent councillor and Mayor of the town Michael Kilcoyne passed by six votes to three in the chamber. The motion put forward by Cllr Durcan called for the council to withdraw planning permission for the media tower and the toilet blocks on the McHale Road side of the multi million euro development at the ground. The motion uses section 44 of the Planning and Development act 2000, which grants the members of a local authority the power to withdraw planning permission for a development if it does not comply with the development plan for the town. Part of the development plan is that all developments comply with planning permission as granted, in the opinion of the members who voted for the motion. The issue over the non compliance with the planning permission relates to the media tower which is one metre higher and three metres wider than what was granted on the planning permission, and the toilet blocks which were not included in certain drawings on the planning application. Town manager Seamus Granahan warned the elected members that if they passed the motion they could leave the council open to legal action and possible compensation, because he believes that they do not have the legal basis to revoke it as the development plan relates to zoning issues and the zoning for the development is correct. The vote on the motion saw three of the four Fine Gael councillors vote against it, with only Cllr Brendan Heneghan breaking party ranks to support the motion alongside Sinn Féin councillor Therésè Ruane, Labour councillor Harry Barrett, Fianna Fáil councillor Blackie Gavin, and the independent councillors Frank Durcan and Michael Kilcoyne. While a application for retention of the planning permission has been lodged with the town council for the disputed parts of the development, five members of the council at the meeting signed a letter calling for a special meeting to be held on September 21 to get the manager to refuse to grant the retention application at the elected members’ wishes. The members have the power to do this under section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001, if a simple majority of the elected members vote to direct the town manager to do so.

Traffic Chaos for the Connacht Football Final

It was great to see a crowd in Salthill again last Sunday. The crowd of over 27,000 Galway and Mayo supporters, reasonable weather and a thrilling finish brought a welcome boost to local business. The Gardaí were out in force and did a great job considering the geography of the area they had to control. Even the GAA got their act together and avoided parking their ticket sales vehicles across footpaths and they had an adequate number of stewards.

But despite everyone’s best efforts the day once again highlighted one unfortunate fact; the inappropriateness of the location of the Pearse Stadium in the middle of a residential area, and within a geographical area lacking the necessary infrastructure to allow proper management of the type of traffic such an event generates.

The Gardaí were really on the ball with barriers and traffic bollards up early and a large force of gardaí manning the barriers and patrolling inside them. Parking was controlled inside these barriers and very few of the residents had their driveways blocked compared to normal. They were also very efficient in removing the traffic bollards before the game even ended. We would not fault how the operation inside the barriers was conducted. One might question the cost of mounting such an operation on an ongoing basis, whether the man power can be spared or whether the GAA should continue to receive this service without making some contribution to the cost.

If we were to take issue with any aspect of the days events inside the zone surrounded by the garda barriers it would be with the control of litter. The most obvious manifestation of this was copies of a publication called “The Goalpost” thrown all over the place. We would suggest that this type of event is not suitable for the distribution of free publications of this nature as it leads to serious littering.

To our great surprise someone even thought to have buses laid on. Nine buses lined up on Rockbarton Road before the end of the game to take people to Eyre Square. Only four of these were filled despite an attendance of over 27,000. While the intention was good this can hardly be considered part of a successful traffic management plan. We hope that Bus Éireann did not lose money on this. Even if people did use the buses they would only be able to make one run in a reasonable time because of the traffic congestion outside the barriers. As it happens those that walked into town made the wiser decision as it took the buses two hours to reach Eyre Square.

While the gardaí had things under control within their zone of operations inside the barriers immediately around Pearse Stadium it was a different story outside this zone. Once again the GAA’s stated traffic management plan failed to materialize. Once again there was no match traffic parking at St Mary’s or Colaiste Éinde. Once again footpaths were blocked, cars parked on corners and double yellow lines, pedestrians forced to dodge traffic when forced off pathways onto to the roads. All that differed from normal was that this occurred outside the zone enclosed by the barriers. Instead of Rockbarton Road and Dr. Mannix Road it was now Devon Park and Taylors Hill down as far as Maunsells Road that were affected by these problems. The same old problems were just pushed out to the adjoining area. Threadneedle Road up to the roundabout leading to the new Knocknacarra Shopping centre was also affected. Traffic was bumper to bumper through Salthill and Galway Bay FM was broadcasting for people caught in traffic tailbacks to be patient coming into Galway.

But bad and all as traffic was coming into Salthill it was when large numbers tried to leave at the same time that gridlock and serious frustration ensued. The match ended about 5.25pm. After 25 minutes the bulk of the crowd had dispersed on foot from the zone within the barriers. But then the traffic gridlock took hold. At 7.15 pm a bus driver with a load of visitors got out and stretched his legs as traffic on Threadneedle Road was not moving in either direction. It was the same in either direction through Salthill and into town. Three hours after the match ended at 8.20 pm (I do not know how much later) it was still bumper to bumper at a snail’s pace up Threadneedle Road. Of course when the traffic chaos eventually cleared here it had only moved out further from Salthill to outlying areas. There was still a tailback at Claregalway at 10 pm. On Monday morning Keith Finnegan of Galway Bay FM said he had never had so many complaints about traffic. One caller to his show said it took nearly two hours to get through Monegeshia Cross (the one where the round about was removed and replaced with “smart” traffic lights) because traffic in a different direction was been given priority.

When garda resources are tied up for an event like this and past history has repeatedly shown the level of illegal parking that takes place why do the City Council not pay their wardens a little overtime to deal with it? Surely in the present economic climate and a Council on the verge of bankruptcy potential revenue generating opportunities should be seized when they present themselves. I have a copy of a publication by Galway City Council entitled “Park Legally in Galway City” in which states that it is illegal to park in a way which interferes with traffic flow or obstructs or endangers other road users, for example:
On a footpath (either partly or wholly).
Within 5 metres of a junction.
Within 15 metres on the approach side of a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights.
Obstructing any entrance for vehicles except with the occupier’s consent.
At a school entrance.
On a grass margin or median strip.

The leaflet gives parking fines as €40-60 for a parking ticket. Clamp release fee of €80 and tow-away release fee of €165. The current fees might actually be higher now as it is some time since the leaflet was produced. Based on these figures and the level of illegal parking on Sunday the City Council could have issued tickets for tens of thousands of euros. We sympathize with the GAA supporters who do not have the parking and traffic management facilities that they should have when attending such events. We take issue with those within the GAA who claim to have viable parking and traffic management plans and lie in their applications for planning permissions at Pearse Stadium. We take issue with those within Galway City Council who go along with these lies and who fail to enforce existing planning conditions.

While it was a great day for sport and business it highlighted yet again the inappropriateness of the location for the activity. If the game had not started until 7.30 pm as proposed in the application for floodlighting at Pearse Stadium the problems would be even more severe. All else being equal the tailback at Claregalway would have shifted from 10pm to 2.30 am.

Response of Residents to the further information of 20/5/09 for file 08299.

Scope of this submission
Once again the City Council Planning Office has had to request clarification from the GAA on their submission on floodlighting at Pearse Stadium. Once again the GAA have failed to give adequate answers to the specific questions asked. In response to the “clarification of further information” that the GAA County Board submitted to the planning office on May 20th we make the following comments and observations. For a complete picture this response should be read in conjunction with our previous submissions dated 9/6/08 and 5/1/09.

Lighting Issues
Under the heading “Lighting” they state that “the technical aspects of the lighting and visual impact of the lights are dealt with by the report of Kyne and Clyne Engineering”. They attach the version of the report dated 28/4/09. We have dealt in detail with the numerous errors in this report previously so do not repeat them all again. We fail to see how resubmitting the exact same report as submitted earlier adds any clarification.

The County Board’s contention in this latest submission that light spillage levels into neighbouring houses will not exceed the maximum guideline levels as given by the Institution of Lighting Engineers is untrue. It is in direct contradiction of their previous submission of 13/2/09 in which they conceded that they can not control the lighting pollution levels on houses at Na Cuilini. It is also in direct contradiction of the figures of their own consultants contained in the Kyne and Clyne report which they have resubmitted with this latest submission. Their statement that “However, given the design and height of the system overspill is limited as per appendix D of Kyne and Clyne’s report and will have no more of an effect than street lighting on the surrounding streets” is also untrue. But this is par for the course. Each of their submissions has contained contradictions within themselves and with the other submissions.

When they admitted that they could not reduce the light spill they argued instead that when people bought these houses they should have realized that floodlights could be put up in future. They ignore the facts that the sites were sold for people to build homes on and that they have a legitimate expectation to be able to enjoy the amenity of their own homes and property without any loss due to nuisance from noise, light or any other cause. It ignores the fact that floodlighting was not a normal feature of such sports grounds at that time and so there would not be any expectation that it might be an issue in the future. And most galling of all it ignores the assurances that there would be no night time activities that residents received from the GAA when they were seeking donations and support to develop the stadium. The Council has already informed the GAA in a previous request for clarification that should they fail to achieve the guideline levels for light pollution that they are unlikely to get planning permission. It should also be noted that these guidelines are maximum values to be considered and not necessarily acceptable targets.

They were asked to demonstrate that the installation of floodlighting as proposed will not have a significant effect on the amenity of the residents in respect of light pollution as the figures they provided in their previous submissions came nowhere meeting the guidelines. They were asked to include in the demonstration a comparative analysis of floodlighting at other stadia/sporting grounds in the country with a similar character to Pearse Stadium (located in a similarly dense urban area where residential properties are located at a similar distance from the floodlights). They have failed to do so. In fact the figures provided by their own consultants demonstrate the opposite.

This in itself is sufficient grounds on which to reject the application, but there are several additional grounds for reaching the only logical conclusion, that is a total rejection of the application.

Parking and traffic management plans
Their parking and traffic management plans are in tatters as their supposedly confirmed agreements with various parties have been exposed to public scrutiny as either lies or based on false assumptions and un-stated conditions which make them worthless. They started out with a claim of 3,400 “confirmed” off street parking places in private car parks. They laid claim to 500 car parking spaces in “the Prairie” which have never existed, to 100 spaces in Galway Golf Club which the club confirmed were only for members and patrons of the golf club, to 500 at Dunnes Stores for which the had no permission at all, to 1,100 at Colaiste Einde and 1,500 (later magically revised to 2,000) in Saint Mary’s College. In practise those in the Colleges can not be used because it would mean destroying the playing pitches. For the Salthill-Devon Fives over the bank holiday weekend part of the playing pitches could still not be used after the Guinness –GAA Hurling Cubed event held there last year despite the remedial work that had been carried out. In this case the obvious damage was the tearing up of the playing surface, but the most serious damage was the compacting of the ground which has resulted in the underlying drainage system being destroyed. The only way to repair this will be to dig up the pitch and put down a new drainage system before covering it with a new surface. Who is going to pay for this?

For this June bank holiday weekend just past we had what were possibly the biggest crowds ever in Galway City and Salthill with the five-a-side soccer, the Red Arrows air display, the Volvo boat racing all taking place. If ever there was an incentive to provide car parking spaces this was it. Yet we notice that although there were announcements on Galway Bay FM that there was parking available in the College grounds nobody operated car parks from them. The gates at Colaiste Einde were closed as usual for the weekend. At St. Mary’s College, besides the spaces for existing permit holders only, just about 60 cars parked in the driveway and the small school car park.


When requesting further clarification of the traffic management plan the City Council stated that it fails to address certain maters. The plan stated that traffic will be permitted into the area immediately around the stadium until all available on-street parking is at capacity. The Council wanted to know how this was to be monitored and managed, and whether the plan has the agreement of or if it was formulated in consultation with the Gardaí. Who would be responsible for opening/closing all the car parks? How many personnel would be involved? How will occupancy levels of individual car parks be gauged during the events, and how will information on occupancy levels be communicated to those managing traffic flow and car parking for the events as a whole. The GAA’s “clarification” just ignores all these questions.

Rather than give the clarifications requested they did yet another about face. They cannot say how things would be monitored and managed so they are now saying that patrons will use the Promenade and Toft Park public car parks and walk from their to the Stadium and that only vehicles of residents and emergency services will be allowed use the roads immediately adjoining Pearse Stadium. We already see how useless this assertion is. We unfortunately know well from experience down through the years that this just does not happen. We continuously have our driveways blocked, parking on footpaths, on double yellow lines and grass verges, pedestrians and wheelchair users forced off the footpaths onto the road etc. No one has come up with a solution to this to date and the GAA offer none now. They can not say the plan has the agreement of or was formulated in consultation with the Gardaí as we have already highlighted that it has not.

Last Sunday (June 7th) when one would expect that they might pay particular attention to getting things right as we were approaching yet another deadline for a decision on the application they remained true to form and we had the usual problems with parking that we have now outlined several times. The gates at Colaiste Einde secondary school were as usual locked. The gates at Scoile Einde national school where they often have parking reserved for players and officials only were also padlocked. There were no signs of any traffic management plan, no garda bollards or gardaí, no restriction of traffic to residents and emergency vehicles. Perhaps the gardaí were not notified of the games, perhaps they were assigned to protecting ballot boxes for the local and European elections or had to prioritise their resources elsewhere. In any event rather than demonstrate any semblance of a traffic management plan it was again reinforced that they do not operate one.


Let’s for a moment enter a fantasy world in which only people going to Pearse Stadium wish to use the two car parks at Salthill Promenade and Toft Park. Ignore also the hundreds of apartments beside them that have no other parking. The combined total capacity of these two car parks is only 291 car parking spaces; 153 at the Salthill Promenade Car park and 138 at Toft Park. With all the contradictions and U-turns in their various submissions one could be forgiven for being confused as to what they are now presenting as their definitive traffic management plan if indeed they have one.


The Council correctly questioned the suitability of St. Mary’s College in terms of proximity to the stadium. The GAA’s attempt to address this by mentioning the public transport system falls far short of what is required to address this issue. The closest bus stop on a route to Salthill is at Nile Lodge. In the evenings a bus goes from Eyre Square to Salthill approximately every half hour Monday to Saturday and every 45 minutes on Sundays. Again let us for a minute go into our fantasy world where nobody except those going to Pearse Stadium wants to use any available service. Only a couple of buses would be of interest for potential patrons for a match at 7pm. Each of these buses would have a maximum capacity for 50 passengers.

The Irish Rail service is of little or no consequence as almost all patrons arrive at Pearse Stadium by car. But suppose they were, what times do trains arrive and leave? If train passengers take the bus from Eyre Square to Salthill then the places they take are not available for any potential passengers at Nile Lodge.


Material change of use from daytime to night time activity
They emphasise that the number of games will not increase. But our concern is not so much the number of games but rather the switch from daytime to night time activity in a quite residential area. This is an extremely serious issue for the residents and we have dealt with it in detail in our previous submissions. Such a change would in itself constitute such serious loss of amenity to local residents that it should of itself be sufficient reason to reject the application. There is no compensating benefit to the common good that would provide any justification for it. Permission to allow such a change would be viewed by residents as constituting a failure by the local authority to meet its statutory obligations as outlined in the city development plan and planning legislation.

Summer Events
They say that besides football and hurling matches they do not expect summer events to exceed three per year. (The residents were previously told there would be no more than two concerts in summer and when they Stand was been promoted initially they were told there would be none). By summer events we take it that they are referring to the holding of concerts. Summer time concerts can and have taken place without floodlights. Indeed concert promoters have told us that even if the floodlights were there they would not use them. They are not compatible with their requirements and would in fact interfere with their stage lighting.


Environmental and Financial Issues
In a climate of heightened environmental and financial concerns we question the sense and viability of turning on floodlighting for attendances which according to the GAA’s own submission could be as low as 100 attendees for some games. Croke Park has minimum attendance figures for which it is considered viable to open up. What would be the corresponding number for Pearse Stadium?

Safety
While the planning office has correctly raised several questions for clarification we are surprised at some of the questions they did not ask. For example the masts described in the first application with planning file number 07/404 which was withdrawn were supposed to be able to withstand wind speeds of 52m per second (116 miles per hour) but according to Met Eireann wind speeds of 125 mph have being recorded in Ireland. The proposed attachments on top of each mast to hold the lights would act like sails to catch the wind and should winds approaching some of those already recorded occur, it does not bear thinking about. Was it only the mast that was rated to withstand wind speeds of 116 mph in the previous version of the application? We imagine that the attachment at the top could not have been, and that even the mast could not if the attachment was catching severe winds at such a height. The applicant fails to give ratings for this version of the proposal. This is a serious omission in view of the catastrophe that could result if the first proposal got the go ahead, and in view of the fact that this version still has the masts at locations M1 and M2 closer to houses than their 39 metre length.

Absence of contractual arrangements
In general we would also question the reasonableness and validity of granting any permissions based on an applicant having access to and control of facilities they do not own and for which there are no enforceable contractual arrangements to ensure their availability in future. For example the traffic management plan on which developments at Pearse Stadium were previously granted permission were based on the 500 car parking spaces at The Prairie, (that is the Salthill/Knocnacarra football pitch). Despite knowing that these spaces do not and never did exist the City Council has granted permissions based on the false premise that it did. The council have never put their hands up and accepted responsibility for this. The availability of car parking spaces at other sites such as the colleges was also part of the conditions but the college authorities are under no obligation to let anyone onto their property. Even where someone might in good faith give permission for someone else to access their property this could be later withdrawn for any number of reasons.

We note that in their latest “clarification” that Colaiste Einde on Threadanedle Road is not mentioned. Is this omission because the college want to quietly disassociate themselves from this controversy (or has realised the damage that would be done to their playing pitches)? In fact they have dropped reference to all the previously mentioned car parks from their latest attempt at a traffic management plan, except St. Mary’s college and Scoil Einde. That is a loss of 2,400 supposedly confirmed car parking spaces from their original plan versus a maximum gain of 291 if you go along with the fantasy that only people going o Parse Stadium will park in the public car parks.

We have previously detailed why there would be very few parking spaces in practice in St. Mary’s College and with the potential for traffic chaos that would result if one did attempt to park cars there We also note that since this application was submitted an application by St. Mary’s Independent Living Project with file number 09/26 has been submitted which will reduce the space at St. Mary’s College by a further 0.85 hectares (2.1 acres) to allow the building of a 60 bed nursing home, a community day care centre and five independent living units. It is likewise open to the owners of any other properties to seek to further develop them themselves. In such a case what is the status of any planning permission granted on the basis of a condition that ceases to be satisfied? For that matter what is the status of any permission granted on the basis of a condition that was never satisfied?

Power & Influence – Good or Bad?
People continuously tell us that the GAA is a powerful and influential organisation. And so it is. There is not necessarily anything wrong in that. In fact if this influence is used for good then it is to be supported. However, like all sources of power it needs checks and balances so that it does not lead to corruption, intentional or otherwise. Many people have told us that the GAA will get its way no matter what is right or wrong because of this power and influence. We were not initially concerned about this. But as time went on we have been shocked by the number of people who have come to us offering assistance in terms of information, moral support and encouragement but who do not want to be identified publicly for fear of negative repercussions in their places of employment. We sincerely hope that this fear is unfounded.

Faith, Hope and Expectation
We believe that in general the staff in Galway City Planning Office are honest, professional people who do their jobs in an impartial and professional manner. We believe that if allowed to do so that they will decide on this application on the basis of the proper planning and development of the locality, taking into account statutory and other requirements such as the city development plan, health and safety concerns, traffic management issues, guidance from professional bodies such as the Institute of Lighting Engineers, bodies with special status such as An Taisce, the submissions of the applicants and local residents, legislation on nuisance such as noise or light pollution, the GAA’s own guidelines, any other information that they are aware of as well as their own professional experience We sincerely hope that the fears people have expressed to us, that undue influence behind the scenes will be brought to bear to give a decision based on who the applicant is rather than the merits or otherwise of the application, are without foundation.

The applicants have failed to show any benefit to the greater community that would justify at any level trampling on the rights of the local community. There are several grounds which taken singularly are each sufficient to refuse the application and taken in their entirety can only lead to one logical conclusion: the outright refusal of the application as totally unsuitable for the location.

Update on Planing Reference 08299…………………14/4/09

The “View further Information” page of the City Council’s planning website shows that they sought further information from the GAA on planning application 08299 (seeking floodlights) under manager’s order 55244 on 1/7/08 and received a response on 8/12/08. A decision was then due on 13/1/09. However, as the response received failed to answer several of the specific questions asked, the planning office requested further clarification under manager’s order 56381 on 12/1/09.

A response to this further clarification was received on 5/3/09 and a decision was then due on 12/4/09. This was recorded on the “View further Information” page of the City Council’s planning website. However, the response was totally inadequate, and indeed so poorly written that the council wrote back to them asking them to explain what part of it actually meant. They requested a further clarification on the clarification, and wrote that the GAA had a further six months to reply. And if no reply was received within that time the application was to be deemed withdrawn. At this stage the details of the previous response having been received were removed from the “View further Information” page.

We admit to being a little mystified by the GAA’s strange and now established custom of removing the site notices from the main entrance at Rockbarton Road when there is a match on. We are not sure which group of GAA supporters they are trying to keep from taking an interest in the notices but it raises some questions that the City Council planning department could answer for us.

How long is a site notice supposed to remain in place? Once it is put up, is it supposed to be left up until a decision is made, or for as long as people are entitled to make submissions or is there some other criteria to be met? If it is meant to be left up, is it an offence to remove it during the prescribed period? If it is an offence, what are the potential sanctions that can be imposed on an offender? What affect does it have on the validity of an application?

Further "Clarification" received by Council ...........5/3/09

Galway City Council has received a response to its request for further clarification on the planning application for floodlights at Pearse Stadium. The decision is now due on 12/3/09. The GAA failed to answer most of the questions asked by the planning office. It is such a feeble response that we can only conclude that either they are so supremely confident that they will get whatever they want, and could not be bothered putting in any unnecessary effort, or that they accept they will not get permission from the local authority and want to speed it to An Bord Pleannala.

They were asked to demonstrate that the installation of floodlighting as proposed will not have a significant effect on the amenity of the residents in respect of light pollution as the figures they provided in their previous submissions came nowhere meeting the guidelines. They were asked to include in the demonstration a comparative analysis of floodlighting at other stadia/sporting grounds in the country with a similar character to Pearse Stadium (located in a similarly dense urban area where residential properties are located at a similar distance from the floodlights).

Contradicting their submission of a few weeks earlier the GAA now concede that they can not control the lighting pollution levels on houses at Na Cuilini. They claim instead that when people bought these houses they should have realized that floodlights could be put up in future. This ignores the facts that the sites were sold for people to build homes on and that they have a legitimate expectation to be able to enjoy the amenity of their own homes and property with out any loss due to nuisance from noise, light or any other cause. It ignores the fact that floodlighting was not a normal feature of such sports grounds at that time and so there would be no expectation that it might be an issue in the future. And most galling of all it ignores the assurances that there would be no night time activities given to the residents by the GAA when they were seeking donations and support to develop the stadium.

The Council stated that traffic impacts are still uncertain, partly because of uncertainly over the scale of intensification of use. The traffic management plan fails to address certain maters. It states that traffic will be permitted into the area immediately around the stadium until all available on-street parking is at capacity. How will this be monitored and managed. It is not clear if plan has the agreement of or if it was formulated in consultation with the Gardaí. They are asked for clarification on these points and on how traffic management would be carried out.The Council noted the lack of detail on who is to manage the parking areas and questions the suitability of St. Mary’s College and Knocknacarra Church in terms of proximity to the stadium. There is also a question as to whether there is enough room for the claimed 1100 spaces at Col. Einde. Who will be responsible for opening/closing all the car parks? How many personnel would be involved? How will occupancy levels of individual car parks be gauged during the events, and how will information on occupancy levels be communicated to those managing traffic flow and car parking for the events as a whole. They were asked to specially explain how the proposed traffic management arrangements sit in the context of the approved Traffic Management Plan for events at the stadium. They were asked to detail examples of successful recent traffic management arrangements for large crowd events within the stadium itself within the last five years.They were asked to explain how it is proposed to facilitate access to and links with the existing public transport networks in the area. The GAA did not answer any of the questions the council asked on traffic management but merely said that they will continue to provide adequate notice to the parking sites, including notice to the Gardaí who will prepare specific garda traffic plans.

The GAA's “clarification” gave the example of Thomond Park as a stadium similar to Pearse Stadium in that it has residences beside it and say that as far as they are aware there are no complaints or objections to the authorities from the residents there. If we can take this assertion at face value they did not try very hard to make themselves aware of the facts. In fact there were objections but the IRFU dealt with them in a completely different manner to the GAA. People were pressured and persuaded by different parties and means to drop their objections. Knockalisheen Road would be a fair comparison with Na Cuiliní at Pearse Stadium. Residents in Knocckaisheen Road were put under severe pressure and those in three houses still owned by the city council even faced eviction notices before agreement was got to buy out and demolish 16 homes there at a cost of about four million euro. We can not say whether or not there is any truth in suggestions that one of the means to get resident’s representatives in Limerick on side was to give them free tickets that were not generally available to the residents as a whole. But we can confirm that the committee members of the residents groups in Rockbarton Road, Rockbarton Green and Glenard here in Salthill returned “gifts” of free Westlife tickets as potentially inappropriate when they were only given to committee members and not the general body of residents. People in Limrick were told that new traffic management plans would improve the traffic problems around Thomond Park but have found in practice that those living in areas such as Mayorstone Park and Hassett’s Cross are finding it very difficult to enter and exit their homes during matches. They have the same difficulties we experience when areas are cordoned off and the same problems with all attempts to implement a workable system with passes for residents. They have the same problems with traffic management and access to their homes that we experience despite the promises and efforts of Limerick Council and Gardaí to control it. They complain that the lights and noise are constant, have to fight for parking on their own doorsteps and sit in traffic for hours to try to get there. Ambulances can not get through at times. One Limerick blogger complained that twice ambulances have not been able to get near his house and that his mother’s stretcher had to be passed over cars by ambulance crew and neighbours. But if you look for information from “official” sources there are no problems at all.

Planning Office seeks further Clarification on Application for Floodlights.

Galway City Council has requested further clarification on the GAA’s application for planning permission for floodlights under manager’s order 56381. This can be viewed on pages 17 to 23 of the correspondence file which is now accessible again on the planning office’s website. The GAA have up to six months to reply. If they do not reply the application is deemed to be withdrawn again. They can make a reply anytime up to six months from 12/1/2009 but we will only have four weeks from the date of their reply if they make one.

The Council has requested further clarification on the intensity of use of the stadium, the impacts from light spill and traffic generation and management.

They want a comparison of the current level of use with that intended if the lights were in place. They want a schedule of all competitive matches played in 2008, 2007 and 2006 including dates, times at which the matches were played. They want a schedule of competitive floodlight and non-floodlight matches envisaged to be played in future. The same for training sessions envisaged under lights.

They want clarification of the light levels that would be used.

They are asked for further demonstration that the installation of floodlighting as proposed will not have a significant effect on the amenity of the residents in respect of light pollution. The applicant is asked to include in the demonstration a comparative analysis of floodlighting at other stadia/sporting grounds in the country with a similar character to Pearse Stadium (located in a similarly dense urban area where residential properties are located at a similar distance from the floodlights).

Traffic impacts are still uncertain, partly because of uncertainly over the scale of intensification of use. The traffic management plan fails to address certain maters. It states that traffic will be permitted into the area immediately around the stadium until all available on-street parking is at capacity. How will this be monitored and managed. It is not clear if plan has the agreement of or if it was formulated in consultation with the Gardai. They are asked to clarify this and explain how traffic management will be carried out, and to revise the proposal as appropriate.

The Council notes the lack of detail on who is to manage the parking areas and questions the suitability of St. Mary’s College and Knocknacarra Church in terms of proximity to the stadium. There is also a question as to whether there is enough room for the claimed 1100 spaces at Col. Einde. Who will be responsible for opening/closing all the car parks? How many personnel would be involved? How will occupancy levels of individual car parks be gauged during the events, and how will information on occupancy levels be communicated to those managing traffic flow and car parking for the events as a whole.
They are asked to specially explain how the proposed traffic management arrangements sit in the context of the approved Traffic Management Plan for events at the stadium.

They are asked to detail examples of successful recent traffic management arrangements for large crowd events within the stadium itself within the last five years.

They are asked to explain how it is proposed to facilitate access to and links with the existing public transport networks in the area.

It is entirely reasonably that the City Council ask for proper clarification on all these matters. Indeed we can suggest many more things that require clarification. However, we will be very surprised if genuine clarification is received.






Response to further information Supplied by GAA for Planning Reference 08/299...........5/1/09


Executive Summary

There are a number of key issues pertinent to the present proposal.

The most obvious is the impact of the proposed floodlighting on the nearby residential dwellings. Neighboring residences are very close to the Stadium, in fact several sharing a common boundary wall. It is evident (contrary to the applicant’s assertions) that there will be considerable spillover of light from the proposed floodlights into local homes, particularly at Na Cuilini. This would be, based on the submitted grid, at levels of up to 132 Lux in the rear garden of no.10 Na Cuilini, 130 Lux at nos 3 and 4 Na Cuilini etc. This alone is sufficient grounds for refusal of the application. It states in section 7 of the Planning Authorities request for further information that “The applicant is further advised that in the case where the assessment of light spill yields figures for Sky Glow, Intrusive Light and Glare is in keeping with those applicable to an E4 Environmental Zone, the development is unlikely to be considered acceptable having regard to the adjoining residents and the character of the area generally”.

The drawings only consider lighting from the floodlights. No consideration is given to all the additional lighting that would be required.

Night time lighting has been linked to certain forms of cancer in humans as night time exposure to light leads to a reduction in melatonin production. The problem is compounded due to use of whiter light luminaries, for as well as leading to greater colour rendition; the human eye is more sensitive to this part of the spectrum. Unwanted light is therefore of even greater nuisance. Moreover, the problems caused by the newer lights are made worse as the spectrum of the new lights cuts melatonin production in the human brain. The result is that whilst the new lights lead to some improvement in the macro problem of sky glow, it is not good for the micro problems of light nuisance and human health.

Problems relating directly to inappropriate lighting levels are not the only ones to be considered. Noise, smells, traffic problems, littering, unsocial behavior, invasion of privacy, overlooking, overshadowing, health and safety concerns all need to be considered.

The noise generated from the use of sports pitches is not restricted to activities on the pitch, but also the arrival and departure of vehicles. No measures are suggested on how to mitigate the effect of this noise pollution. One of the most unpleasant noises we have to deal with is that of the air horns that some supporters bring to games.

The noise and light pollution would be particularly disruptive to the sleep patterns of younger children who would be in bed earlier than adults.

The proposal involves intensification of use beyond that acceptable to an area of low residential density.

The change from solely daytime use to daytime and night time use is such that it must be considered not only an intensification of use but also a material change of use.

The proposed development represents a traffic hazard and has insufficient parking. As with many other aspects of the proposal, a closer examination of their claims for the traffic management plan highlights a major shortfall between what is claimed and what is realizable in practice. There is a serious lack of guaranteed off street car parking space at the development and this would inevitably lead to an increase in on-street car parking in an area where street widths are limited and close to road junctions. It would cause further conflict with local residents’ requirements for parking. The existing short comings in this regard would be greatly exacerbated by the proposed development.

Information specifically requested by the Planning Authority under manager’s order 55244 has not been supplied. They do not explain how parking would be controlled and managed, nor is any consideration of links with existing public transport networks given.

The proposed development would not be in keeping with the prevailing character of the area viz. low-density residential development of detached and semi-detached two-story properties on substantial sized plots.

The proposed development is located within an Established Suburb Neighborhood Area where it is stated policy of the Galway City Council Development Plan 2005-2011 to: “Protect the quality of inner residential areas by ensuring that new development does not adversely affect their character and has regard to the prevailing pattern, form and density of these areas.” ……..Policy no. 2.5 Inner Residential Areas.

It would contravene the guidelines given in the GAA’s own club handbook, Department of Environment guidelines and be contrary to the City Development Plan.

There is nothing to indicate whether the project is financially viable in the long term. Could they be coming back again for more public monies to bail them out?

The adjoining residences are entitled to reasonable protection of their residential amenities. Indeed this is both national and local policy. The only way to ensure this protection is to reject the application.


Introduction

We have learnt a few things over the years trying to deal with the GAA at Pearse Stadium. Among them, that they will not let a lie or half truth stand in the way of getting what they want. No statement they make can be taken at face value. They believe they do not need to talk with the local people. And when they do, a promise is of no value. Once, when reminded of past promises, they told us that those promises were made by a previous committee and so they were not bound to honour them. It seemed lost on them that such logic meant any promise the current individuals on the board or committee subsequently made would be of little value as when they would be replaced on the board the new members they would not be bound by any promise that they might have made. They have succeeded in alienating their neighbours and squandering a huge amount of good will. They are also out of step with the wishes of the majority of their own loyal football and hurling supporters. This is a very sad state of affaires.

Galway City Council is well aware of the exceptionally high level of non compliance with existing planning conditions. The fact that the site notice for retention of unauthorised communication aerials which hangs beside the one now under consideration is the eight application for retention out of about a dozen or so planning applications is a good measure of the lack of respect which the GAA at Pearse Stadium have for the planning process. We contend that it is past time that the City Council invokes section 35 of the Planning and Development Act, which allows refusal of planning permission for past failures to comply. The timing of this submission of additional misinformation just before the Christmas and New Year is exactly what one would expect from a group that wanted people to have as little opportunity as possible to examine in detail their proposals.

This submission is in response to the further information (or misinformation) that they have submitted in response to manager’s order no. 55244. For a more comprehensive account of the facts it should be read in conjunction with our original submission.



Site Notice and Press Notice and OKM Cover Letter

The confusion starts with the site and newspaper notices which state that the development applied for consisted of planning permission for the erection and installation of four floodlight masts 39 metres high with associated floodlights, control gear and site works to give light levels of 750 Lux horizontal and 1000 Lux vertical. It then states “Revisions made are to include the above light levels of 750 Lux horizontal and 1000 Lux vertical, revised to 500 Lux horizontal and 1000 vertical.”

This is also reinforced by the introduction of the letter from OKM to Eilish McCullough (Planning Officer assigned to Pearse Stadium) on behalf of their client, Galway GAA County Board in the response to the Planning Office’s request for further information. It clearly states the same thing in its introduction. It states “As per the newspaper notice and the application we have reduced the lighting levels of 750 Lux horizontal and 1000 Lux vertical, revised to 500 Lux horizontal and 1000 Lux vertical in turn reducing the light spill levels.”

It would not be unreasonable to take this as meaning that the maximum light levels they now seek permission for are 500 Lux horizontal and 1000 vertical.

However, when one looks at the small print of the accompanying Kyne and Clyne report and in section 3 of the cover letter one finds that this is not true. This is only for non televised games (they say mostly training sessions). They still want the 1000 Lux for televised events and the number of such games has now increased from “typically 6-10 floodlit matches per year played at the maximum 1000 Lux” in the original report or the 8 they confirmed in their letter to the Planning Office, dated 19/4/07, to16 each winter season in the new version.

Furthermore the original report stated on page 6 “Floodlights to be used generally between the hours of 18.00pm and finishing no later than 21.30pm with other ancillary lighting going out at 22.30pm.” Section 4 of the new cover letter says “The above no. of events will be played in the winter months between the floodlit hours of 18.00 and 22.30 hrs with ancillary lighting being switched off at 23.00hrs.” That is an extra hour under full lights each time.

They have used the submission of further information to try and change the terms of the actual planning application.

Trafic Management Plans (TMP)

TMP version 1
The original Traffic Management Plan granted under planning reference no. 94/541 was based on a lie which has never been rectified. Planning condition 3 parts a, b and c dealt with parking and read as follows:

3. (a) Car parking facilities for 500 cars shall be available at Arus Bothar na Trá for all sporting events.

(b) Detailed layout plan and management arrangements for this facility shall be submitted to and agreed in writing with the Planning Authority prior to the commencement of development.

(c) The additional car parking facilities for up to 1500 cars proposed at Colaiste Éinde grounds shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities outlined at (a) above are inadequate to meet the needs of these events.

Reason:-
To provide satisfactory car parking arrangements to serve the proposed development in the interests of road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity.

As all concerned are well aware the 500 spaces at Arus Bothar na Trá have never existed and both locations are outside the direct control of the GAA at Pearse Stadium. This was further developed into a traffic management plan for large events.

A photocopy of this version of the traffic management plan was resubmitted to the planning office on October 2nd. It is titled “RE: Traffic Management Plan for Events in Pearse Stadium, Salthill”. It makes no reference to residents of the immediate area and indeed of outlying areas affected. Nor had any updates being made to it in the intervening years to take account of any changes in the environment with the passing of the years.

We would take issue with the last paragraph of section 3 which envisages “that a certain amount of traffic will be allowed within this perimeter until such time as all available on street parking areas in the various estates is full”. The only parking allowed here should be for residents and those normally visiting them. But over the years no satisfactory way of implementing this has been found.

Their statement that they have already secured 3,450 off street parking spaces is untrue as elaborated below.

To the best of our recollection the GAA have never had park and ride facilities operating for any of their own events through out the whole history of Pearse Stadium. The only isolated incidents that we can recall have being when professional concert promoters took over for concerts.

Section 7 mentions the traffic system designed to cope with the Air Display in 1997 and 1998 but fails to mention that during these events traffic along the Prom was restricted and it is a long way back to be looking for an example of a successful implementation of a traffic plan. There has been a lot of change since then.


TMP version 2
On October 2nd the City Council received a submission from OKM Ltd. on behave of their client, the Galway County GAA Board. It had statements on a car parking and traffic management plan, illegal signage and illegal communication aerials within the grounds at Pearse Stadium, and planting and signage outside the boundary wall.

The attached traffic management plan was a photocopy of the discredited plan they again submitted in 2001 and briefly discussed above. One might wonder why they could not update it to allow for developments since then. Did they expect it to be just rubber stamped again? This cover letter says “our client on all match day occasions will arrange parking facilities in said T.M.P.” (Traffic Management Plan). We will not mince words. This is a blatant lie.

Following on the County final on Sunday, November 2nd we made the following brief comments to the City Council and the local press. No traffic management plan was obvious apart from the placing of some “resident access only” signs at Glenard and some traffic bollards put out by the Gardaí. There were no garda check points not to mind the eight mentioned in the so called plan. There were no park and ride facilities. The 500 car spaces at the Prairie of course have never existed. Of the supposedly confirmed 3400 available parking spaces specified in the plan, this was the reality. 1,100 spaces not available at Colaiste Einde. The gates were locked as usual outside of school time. 1,500 spaces not available at St. Mary’s College and any one who tied risked a €100 clamp release charge. 100 spaces at Galway Golf club not available as available only to members. Of 200 spaces at Knocknacarra Church only 120 actually exist and these are required by parishioners during parish services and events. 500 spaces at Dunnes Stores, Westside not available, as since this plan was first presented the supermarket has started Sunday opening and parking is allowed for customers only.

The parking took place on the streets and footpaths of the surrounding residential areas. We again had the usual parking on double yellow lines and grass verges, obstruction of corners, footpaths and gateways forcing pedestrians, wheelchair users and people with prams onto the roads. The roads were constricted with cars parked both sides half on the roads and half on the footpaths so that there was insufficient space for a fire brigade to pass in places if it were required. Cars were forced to reverse around blind corners when cars going in opposite directions met. Of course all this is “normal” to us when crowds congregate at Pearse Stadium despite the so called traffic management plan.




TMP version 3
The GAA seem to have reacted in panic to the comments above being published and tried getting commitments and permissions from people they had claimed that they had already had confirmed agreements with. They failed to get such commitments from the Golf Club where they had claimed confirmation of 100 car parking spaces and from the West Side Shopping centre where they had claimed confirmation of a further 500 spaces. But not to worry, they worked their magic and the 1500 spaces they claimed to have at St. Mary’s College suddenly became 2,000. Whether they physically exist or not does not matter. After all, paper never refused ink and the fact that the 500 parking spaces at The Prairie required under previous planning conditions never existed did not matter. As long as it was written in the planning file then that was good enough for the Galway City Council Planning Department to accept it. They also still claim 200 spaces at Knocknacarra despite our pointing out that there are only 120 spaces there.

Where they did succeed in getting agreement that spaces would be available they omitted to mention a few other important details such as the times when any spaces that do actually exist are unavailable. For example the spaces in the Church car park would be unavailable when parish activities such as Masses, funerals, devotions, parish meetings etc are taking place.

In the schools, times of classes, school use of pitches and departure times of traffic from the schools would need to be considered.

In St. Mary’s what about the spaces held by existing permit holders? How many of these are there? What about other existing users such as the bridge players? What about finishing times for school clashing with arrival of match patrons.

Do they seriously expect people to believe that the colleges will allow parking on their football pitches during the winter when the ground is soft and traffic would tear them up and destroy them? The colleges have confirmed to us that they will not. The GAA do not allow parking on the Prairie for this reason despite a previous planning condition that 500 parking spaces are available for all activities in the Stadium. The northern half of Salthill Park has been unavailable for games and training sessions since the ground was cut up after the “Culcamp” weekend last summer. The ground had to be re-levelled and reseeded and is still too soft to allow activity on it. Did they clearly explain to those they sought permission from what exactly was required, or were there agreements (tacit or otherwise) to ignore these points?

They make no mention of nor give any figures for the length of time it would take cars and people to enter these “car parks” and later depart from them. On Sunday December 13th after the 10.45 am Mass we timed how long it took 100 cars to exit the car park at Knocknacarra Church under conditions where there were no delays or hold-ups of any kind. It took twelve minutes. This particular car park has a dual carriage way, one side to enter and one to exit. It also has a footpath so pedestrians and cars can enter and exit simultaneously.

Let’s compare this with St. Mary’s College which has one gateway 112 inches wide (just over 9 feet). A single car can barely fit through at a time. A car and pedestrian could not pass through it together. Let’s assume for the moment, just for the sake of argument that the 2000 spaces claimed by the GAA actually exist. Let’s ignore for the moment that this opens onto a narrow, busy road that lies between the route from Salthill to the hospital. Let’s assume no one wants to enter as others want to leave and vice versa. And let’s make the further false assumption, again for the sake of argument, that traffic can pass as quickly through this gateway as we observed it leave Knocknacarra Church. Extrapolating from 12 minutes for 100 cars gives 240 minutes or 4 hours for 2000. That is a best case of 4 hours for all traffic to enter before the match. People them have to walk from there a distance of 1.2 miles to Pearse Stadium. Allow 90 minutes plus for the match if there is only one. Then a fourty minute walk back to St. Mary’s to face up to another four hours to depart the grounds. Of course the huge tail back does not disappear as soon as you get out of the grounds but slowly winds itself in different directions throughout the city and beyond over the following hours. One man complained to us that it took him nearly four hours to get home to Menlough from Pearse Stadium and that normally he would get all the way to Dublin in less time than that. Each car would have at least a driver and most would have additional passengers. In addition to the time for the cars to enter, all the people who now become pedestrians need to exit after parking the car and to re-enter after the game to get back to their cars. Add a reasonable amount of time to the above to allow for this. Then start making more realistic assumptions than the above, such as one will want to leave before all two thousand others are in or someone will want to enter before all the others have left. Recognise that his is already a busy road and that not all users will have an interest in the activity at Pearse Stadium. One could easily see how we reach a potential nightmare scenario of it taking 5 or 6 hours to get in and another 5 or 6 hours to get out. Surely a recipe for bad tempers, tears and possibly confrontation. Have the residents around St. Mary’s been informed of these plans? Would they require planning permission? Would the Health and Safety Authority have issues with any of this?

Despite a specific request in the Planning Authority’s letter requesting further information no detail is given of arrangements for the management and control of the car parking. Who will control all this within the school grounds? They hardly expect the school to use an army of pupils to do it, particularly late at night. Their parents would have something to say about that. Or do they expect to get an army of parents to volunteer? Would the gardaí be expected to allocate scarce resources to control the point of entry and exit to the public roads? Who would pay the costs? What have the gardaí themselves to say about this?

It gets even better. On Monday 15th December at 8 pm we went to St. Mary’s to measure the width of the gate and count the potential parking spaces that actually exist. We do not see how 2000 cars could be squeezed in. As we were doing so who should drive in and ask what was going on but the vice principle. When asked if he would let cars park on the pitches on a night like this particular one. (Not raining but damp and ground soft) he said “Of course not. You know what that would do to the pitches”. When asked about the letter from the principle to the GAA confirming availability of parking for a charge per car he replied “But that’s not in the winter. They would not be playing football and hurling in Pearse Stadium for the winter”. It was pointed out to him that that was exactly what their planning application was for.

This restriction on letting cars on the pitches in winter or whenever the ground is soft is a pretty serious omission in the GAA’s submission as once again it completely misrepresents the facts. There is no guarantee that spaces will be available, only consent in principle that has to take into consideration prevailing conditions at any given time.

All of a sudden the confirmed 2000 spaces looks a lot less likely to be available in reality.

What genius decided this was a useable plan? Do they expect patrons to drive from wherever home is to this car park, spent up to 5 or 6 hours to get in, then make a 30 -45 minute walk, spent 90 minutes at the game (if only one game on), then walk 30 – 45 minutes again to possibly spent up to 5 or 6 hours again trying to get out?

It must also be taken into consideration that St. Mary’s Road is on one of the routes from Salthill to the hospital?

A telephone conversation with the principle of Colaiste Einde on Thursday December 18th confirmed similar restrictions would operate there. She said that while in principle the grounds could be available for parking they would not give carte blanche. They would not allow anything that would destroy their pitches. Each case would be evaluated on its own merits and the prevailing circumstances. So it is very possible and even probable that especially in winter the 1100 spaces at Colaiste Einde (Note that previous planning condition requires 1500) would not be available for a given event. Further it may not be possible to know this long in advance. Now we are looking at the scenario where a supposed confirmed 3400 spaces is now possibly down to zero, particularly if there has been a spell of wet weather. What is the contingency plan when these spaces are not available?

But even if they were to be available, what is the trigger to start the process of implementing the plan? The actions required to accommodate an expected 500 patrons would differ to those required to accommodate 2000 and be different again for 34,000. Who would put in the requests for the car parking spaces, on what signals would the requests be triggered? For that matter, what would be the expected number of cars to be accommodated it 34,000 patrons were expected? A ratio of one car for every ten people would be greatly understating the requirements, yet that is the maximum their plan can cater for if all the claimed parking spaces were available and patrons prepared to use them. We understand that an expected attendance of over 8,000 people is required before the Gardaí in Salthill can hope to get any additional resources to help police events. This is well over the expected attendances of 500 and 3,000 they claim for training sessions and televised games respectively in section 4 of the OKM cover letter. What exactly is the parking and traffic management plan they are putting forward for these expected scenarios?

Their assertion that “steps taken to manage traffic; patrons access, egress and health and safety are currently successfully managing events/matches including Connacht qualifiers and Connacht finals to date” is untrue. As the Gardaí and the City Council and indeed the whole city know the residents are constantly suffering from traffic chaos, their gateways blocked etc. No point in repeating it all here. At the Westlife concert the Gardaí had to intervene as the private security on the day could not handle the crowd going into the concert. There have been other occasions on which the Gardaí have had to intervene at Pearse Stadium in the interests of people’s safety and on which the GAA were less than helpful in complying with garda directions.



Gardaí have not endorsed these plans
One might mistakenly gather from the way their submission is written that the Gardaí were involved in drawing it up or endorsed the latest version of the traffic management plan. This is not the case.

But rather than just take our word for it we wrote to the planning office and requested that the following questions be asked of the Salthill Gardaí so that their account of the situation would be taken into account.

The questions we requested the planning office to ask were:

Has the GAA or anyone acting on their behalf contacted the Gardaí in Salthill in connection with the application for floodlighting or traffic management plans?

What specifically did they ask for?

What reply was given?

Have the Gardaí in Salthill been involved in drawing up the latest version of the traffic management plan?

Have they endorsed any such plan?

At this point in time what number of gardaí is available to you in Salthill?

Do you have a budget to cover traffic management for events in Pearse Stadium?

Remember that the plan envisages Gardaí at eight specific check points mentioned in section 3, plus an undisclosed adequate number deployed within this area and area in immediate areas of Pearse Stadium. And additional gardaí to be deployed at other junctions outside the perimeter diverting traffic to the main off street parking areas. It does not specify the total number of gardaí required, or who will pay for them. There is no indication of where these garda resources are to come from, if they can definitely be found, and what other duties they might be diverted from.

If the planning office has acted on our request to ask the above questions they will have received confirmation that the GAA did contact the Gardaí in Salthill in connection with the traffic management plan for this application. That the Gardaí were not a party to drawing it up or endorsing it. That the number of Gardaí currently available in Salthill is eight to cover 24 hours. That they have no budget allocated to dealing with duties related to Pearse Stadium and if anything the expectation in the current environment would be for further cutbacks. That the GAA make no contribution to costs involved in policing events at Pearse Stadium.

No Links with Public Transport Networks
Despite a specific request in the planning authorities request for further information to
“Detail consideration given to facilitating access to and links with existing public transport networks, as well as arrangements for car parking control and management” no such detail is given. That is because no such links exist.






Revised Kyne & Clyne Report dated 28/11/08

Section 1:
Considering the size of the proposal under consideration and the major impact it would have on the area we do not agree with the report’s very first contention that it gives a detailed description of the proposed installation. In fact it is more akin to a publicity overview and lacks many very important details which should be given in any serious proposal of this nature.

This version of the report is already looking for a doubling of the number of games played at the highest illuminance levels; 16 compared to 8 in the first application for floodlights. We attach a copy of their letter of 19/4/2007 to Galway City Council. It is also slipping in an extra hour of full lighting time with the comment that “Floodlights to be used generally between the hours of 18.00pm and finishing no later than 22.30pm with other ancillary lighting going out at 23.00pm. The previous version of this application read “Floodlights to be used generally between the hours of 18.00pm and finishing no later than 21.30pm with other ancillary lighting going out at 22.30pm. In effect they are using the submission of additional information as an opportunity to rewrite the details of the application.


Section 2:
This merely says to see attached letter from the GAA putting forward their justification for the proposal. See our comments dealing with that letter separately.


Section 3:
The report claims that the light level calculation/drawing within Appendix A were carried out by a leading sports lighting specialist manufacturer using the most up to date design software available. This much might possibly be true. However, it fails to back it up with any detail. It does not tell us anything about the software used, and more crucially about the assumptions feed into it. Did Abacus sent their engineers to Pearse Stadium to examine the site or did they just work off information supplied to them by the GAA?

For example, where a bench mark level for height is indicated on the supplied drawings it is taken as pitch level. The ground levels at the four points where they propose placing the floodlight columns are all above pitch level. Failure to take this into consideration would again mean that the actual overspill levels would be under estimated. Without details of the software package used and the assumptions feed into it we can only guess at what other errors contribute to the results reported. There is no account taken of the supplementary lights required in spectator and other areas and these would make an additional contribution to the overall figures.

Anyone with the slightest appreciation of software will be familiar with the “Garbage In, Garbage Out concept.” Even in cases where only valid information is feed in there will still be a margin for error taken into account. The report admits that “the calculations of the spill lighting levels provide a general guide to the actual spill lighting levels that will occur in practice but the calculations cannot incorporate all of the factors that will come into play”. No indication is given for what the expected error tolerance might be in this case.

The report refers to the ILE’s 2005 document “Guidance Notes for the Reduction of Obtrusive Light” in another classic example of how to cause confusion by quoting a source that applies to a totally different situation. The area around Pearse Stadium is not one with car parks, logistic facilities, advertising hoardings and entertainment arenas and what is acceptable in such areas is not acceptable in the low density residential area around Pearse Stadium. However, if the GAA representatives at Pearse Stadium were to get their way this is exactly what they would turn it into. But if we were to play along and consider the ILE maximum spill lighting level of 10 Lux for urban areas we find they have slipped up again, because the figures in the illuminance overspill drawings they present show values over 13 times this value at houses on the northern side of the pitch.

The drawings give no indication of the relative heights of the houses on Rockbarton Road compared to the height of the Eastern Terrace or of the pitch. The houses here have steep driveways leading up to them as they are a couple of metres higher than the roadway. As a consequence they have a good view of the pitch from the ground floor windows as well as from the first floor and hence would suffer much more severally from glare off the pitch than the information supplied would suggest. The axis of light beamed from the two columns at the western end of the grounds towards the houses in Rockbarton Road would be unacceptably close to the horizontal and in the words of the report when giving the analogy of car head lights shinning on oncoming traffic “cause high levels of discomfort”.

The report’s assertion that “As with pedestrians and local residents, motorists on Rockbarton Road and Dr. Mannix Road will be aware of the floodlights but distraction and visual discomfort will be minimal as the mast top floodlight arrays will be outside the normal field of vision and glare will be very limited” is absolute rubbish. What could be more distracting to a driver than passing through zones of alternatively dark and bright areas in their field of peripheral vision as one approaches the boundaries of Pearse Stadium, then passes close to the walls and then goes away from them again.

Under the heading “Design Options” they give the briefest description of alternative designs for the proposal. Of these two basic methods of using a “four corner” solution are mentioned. The reports description of alternative (a) is as follows.

“To have 50m high masts located at the extreme perimeter of the ground and tilted toward the playing area. At 50m the masts for this solution are very bulky and would probably require maintenance platforms. The height and bulk of the masts and floodlight arrays would be visually intrusive. This method was discarded from consideration for these reasons.”

Yet this is exactly what they proposed in the original version of the proposal under planning reference 07/404. Far from being an example of reasoned consideration of an option that was discarded because it was found unsuitable, it is a typical example of how the applicants can make an about face whenever it suits them. What they now admit as very bulky and visually intrusive they previously described as visually unobtrusive due to their slim line design

The latest version (method b) now describes the masts as “reasonably slim”. In what respect has the design of the columns changed, which would allow their description change from very bulky and visually intrusive to “reasonably slim”? They have still failed to give the wind loadings the masts can take despite the extremely serious (possibly fatal) design flaw in the original version in which the ratings of the design was insufficient to withstand wind levels already recorded here, not to mind a margin for safety. As for the photomontage presentation the same questions on the assumptions fed into the software arise as do for the software for the lighting levels. Again what is the zero reference point for the height measurements? What is the thickness of the base of columns, and does the foundation structure rise above ground level. These are important questions as he current version of the proposal now has the columns placed at beginning of the exit routes. Would the reduced flow rate for evacuation still be acceptable to the fire officer andother health and safety specialists? We also note that at a height of 39 metres the columns and attachments are still close enough to strike neighboring houses should they fall in their direction.

Section 4:
Power Requirements
The application gives no detail on the total load requirements. Nor does it explain how the floodlights are to be powered. Would it be from the ESB 3-phase power supply or by generators?

If the later what are the expected noise measurements. Where would the generators be placed? How would they be housed?

If the former, what affect would the power surge resulting from turning on and turning off this demand have on sensitive electronic and electrical devices such as PCs and laptops, or indeed any appliances connected to the local grid? Could they be damaged? In the event of a power failure what is the backup plan? What is the routing and rating of power cables?

Analyzing the description of the light fittings yields a power consumption of 472KW per hour before taking any consideration of any ancillary lighting or other power requirements. Again, the most notable feature of the report is the lack of information supplied. But we can do a “back of an envelop” calculation.

To put the power requirements in some sort of perspective consider that pensioners have an allowance of 400 units (1 unit = 1KWhour) every two months. That is 2400 units per year or roughly 6.57 units per day.

At 472KW per hour before taking any consideration of any ancillary lighting or other power requirements the floodlights would use this annual allowance in five hours.

Taking their latest lights on times of 18.00pm to 23.00 this would involve power consumption of roughly 472KW x 5 = 2360 KW hours excluding all ancillary power required. Therefore the lights on for one evening would consume power of the same order of magnitude as the allowed to the local pensioners for a whole year. Probably more if all other power requirements were included. More critically it would correspond to the daily allowance of approximately 359 (2360/6.57 = 359) of these pensioners. If a developer wanted to suddenly switch 359 houses onto the local grid at the same time there would have to be some serious discussions with the ESB.

Rough as this calculation is, it is still sufficient to show that a large amount of power is to be switched on over a short period of time. Can the local grid which we understand is already operating at close to saturation levels handle this surge in demand? What effects would it have on existing users connected to the grid? Could sensitive electrical and electronic devices such as PCs and laptops, or indeed any devices connected to the local grid, be damaged by the power surges at switch on and switch off? Has written confirmation been received from the ESB that they can handle it? Are they happy that the masts are far enough away from existing power lines?

There is no detail on the switch gear, where or how it would be housed and the level of accessibility of this equipment to users.

Electromagnetic Interference
Considering the size of and the proximity of the metal masts and associated cabling to local homes is there likely to be any electromagnetic interference with TV signals, phone signals or other equipment?


Are Ground Conditions Suitable?
Under the heading “Mast Structure” the report reads “The lighting manufacturer will provide both a standardized or custom foundation design for the mast structure once the ground pressure and general conditions on site have been established”. This would seem to indicate that the lighting manufacturer has not been on site yet and at least does not know what the underlying ground conditions are. They are unable to say whether some standard off the shelf design can be used or whether some customized version would have to be developed if practical because they do not know the underlying ground conditions. There is no evidence of a topographical and ground investigation report. We would remind you that the Stadium is build on reclaimed bog land. Perhaps this is also the reason that they can not give figures for the wind loadings that the structure would have to be able to bear. We would also have concerns for the degradation in appearance of the columns over time. Remember the Spire in Dublin was hailed as a master piece of engineering with a special coating that would never need to be cleaned. But when it was put in place we found out that this was not true.

We also note that the “Facilities Guidence for Floodlighting” of the IRFU recommend that the lighting columns should not be placed within a 5m safety zone of the playing area. This figure is for smaller columns than those in the current proposal. What would be the relevant safety zone in this case and is this requirement met by the four columns in the current proposal? It certainly does not look like it to us.


Section 5:
The section headed “Usage and Maintenance of Technical Lighting” lists a number of items that should be examined but again fails to give the necessary details to allow any conclusions be drawn other than that insufficient information is provided. There are no details of the source and nature of the power supply, its quality or any effects it may have on neighboring homes, nor of the connection and switching arrangements.

Section 6:
The conclusions drawn in the report are totally at variance with those drawn by the residents and with the facts. They are based on insufficient and at times incorrect information. Are these guys just pulling figures out of thin air or is the improvement in lighting technology moving ahead at an incredible rate. This latest version of the report claims that “upward waste light will also be minimized with less than 5% of the light output being projected into the atmosphere”. The previous version a few months earlier claimed “upward waste light will also be minimized and at the floodlight elevations less than 10% of the light output will be projected into the atmosphere”. This is amazing since there is no mention of any design changes between now and last April to account for the improved figures. It must be magic just like the 500 extra car parking spaces in St. Mary’s. The logical conclusion to be drawn from the very last line is that even if one wanted to support the proposal it should be rejected for now and reviewed at a later date when the technology has evolved to meet the claims that the proposers make for it now, but which are false. We totally reject the conclusions of the report as inaccurate and inconsistent with the facts.


Appendix A:
Illuminance Overspill Drawings
The illuminance overspill diagrams show no improvement from those previously submitted. How could they as they are still looking for the same upper levels as previously despite the wording of the newspaper and site notices. Not only that, they are looking for these maximum levels for an increased number of games.

The figures presented on the drawing of 4/12/08 and titled “illuminance Overspill Drawing (1000 Lux Vertical)” show that the readings at every single house bar one at Na Cuilini exceed the limitation values for even the most insensitive zone (E4) by a considerable margin.

Even at the reduced level of illumination for the training sessions the figures presented in the second drawing titled “illuminance Overspill Drawing (500 Lux Switched Down)” show that the readings at every single house bar one at Na Cuilini still exceed the limitation values for even the most insensitive zone (E4). Indeed it could be argued that the relevant figures to be applied should be for an E2 Zone as there is currently only darkness from the Stadium, which itself would be classified as an E1 zone.

This is extremely important as they were advised by the planning office in the request for further information that in the case where the assessment of light spill yields figures for Sky Glow, Intrusive Light and Glare is in keeping with those applicable to an E4 Environmental Zone, the development is unlikely to be considered acceptable having regard to the amenity of adjoining residents and the character of the area generally.

It should also be noted that lighting will not always remain as bright as when it is first switched on and a lamp can lose up to 20% of its effectiveness during the first two or three years, depending on the cleaning regime and on depreciation of the lamps. For this reason, schemes are usually specified in terms of minimum average maintained illuminance. So the actual illuminance can be expected to be greater than the figures presented and for the first two or three years it can be expected that it would be greater by 20%.

Further, where a bench mark level is indicated on the supplied drawings it is taken as pitch level. The ground levels at the four points where they propose placing the floodlight columns are all above pitch level. Failure to take this into consideration would again mean that the actual overspill levels would be under estimated.

There is already a bank of fluorescent lights along the back of the stand. In the event of night time activities these would have to be switched on for safety reasons, so that patrons could see their way in and out. These would shine down directly on the homes at Rockbarton Green which back on to the stand. This has being totally ignored in the illuminance overspill diagrams which only consider light from the floodlights. They assume that the stand shields these houses from the floodlights which it would, but totally ignore any other lighting such as these fluorescents. They therefore indicate that these houses would be in darkness rather than the bright light which would be the reality. They also ignore any lighting spill from corporate boxes or other rooms with glass walls/windows overlooking the same houses. Similarly, light will be required on the terraces, in the stand and everywhere that patrons, players or officials would need access. None of this is captured in the drawings.

Without details of the software package used and the assumptions feed into it we can only guess at what other errors contribute to the results reported.

One might also question why the GAA would require 500 lux for training sessions when the Irish Ruby Football Union only requires 100 lux for lower-level competition, general training or recreation.


Document Titled “Coiste Chontae na Gaillimhe Cumann Luthchleas Gael”

This document details the rational for the proposal from the GAA’s perspective. As usual it contains several statements given as facts with nothing to back them up. Worse it contains statements that are untrue.

Despite the €12m redevelopment over the last decade they have failed to properly finish a long list of things that were laid down as planning conditions for previous developments. The residents are fed up writing to the City Council on these and we are sure the Council is feed up receiving them.

They make the claim that “Floodlighting in spite of the heavy cost is an absolute must for the stadium’s future and for the organization going forward.” In fact it is only necessary for certain people to save face having so doggedly persisted in going against the wishes of the local residents and many of their supporters who believe it is the wrong place for such a development.

Section 1:
Their comments in section 1 are totally at variance with the vast majority of the residents and of very many of their loyal football and hurling supporters. How can they say that on balance floodlighting will generally be well received in the local community when there is as close to unanimous agreement as one is ever likely to get in any community that the proposal should be totally rejected? Their references to local residents some of whom are senior citizens, business in Salthill and local Taxi firms seems to be a feeble effort to counter statements we have made over the past months. But who do they think own and work in these businesses and drive these taxis etc? It is by and large the local residents who are making the submissions opposing the application for lights and all the negative consequences that would accompany them.

Section 2:
Floodlighting rather than allow games to be played at a time convenient to family members will cause disruption. It certainly will not suit the families of local residents with small children trying to sleep to have obtrusive lighting and the noise of traffic, cheering spectators, generators etc. For that matter, it is unlikely to be acceptable for players with young children to be away in the evening and missing the family get together around the table at tea time and missing being there to put their children to sleep. However, we would not presume to speak for others without their agreement. As for their supporters, they seem to be either ignoring their views or out of touch with them as most supporters we have spoken with or who have contacted us say that it is in the wrong place and it will not suit them to come to matches late on winter evenings, particular if they have to travel the extra distance to Pearse Stadium over more suitable locations.

Section 3:
If the GAA had scheduling problems it might be more appropriate for them to look at the discipline or rather lack of it of some of their clubs who look for postponements of fixtures whenever they perceive they are at some disadvantage to their opponents, such as when a certain player is unavailable to play. The submission does not give the days of the week that games would be played. This is the closest thing to such an indication. Are they saying the evening games would all be on Saturdays? If not when exactly would they propose holding them as the day as well as the time of day and time of year has implications for various traffic conditions, (e.g. conflicts with school traffic, Church car park)?


Section 4:
Their claims that their supporters want floodlights for evening winter games in Pearse Stadium and that they can not understand the failure to progress the mater again is contrary to what people are telling us.

The comments we get are along the lines of, why are they insisting on putting the lights here? It is the wrong place. Parking is crazy. It is too far from where most of the supporters are. It should be in Tuam. It makes no sense, making people from Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim having to travel an extra 50 miles for a game in Galway rather than Tuam. It is disgraceful that they will not meet with the residents. Why won’t they listen to the fans?

People can make claim and counter claim but the most telling way that their loyal supporters can express their view that it is not in the right place is by their poor attendances at Pearse Stadium.


Section 5:
Says that Pearse Stadium committee is determined that there will be no question of over use of the playing surface particularly in winter months. The schedule of games set out hereunder for the application clearly supports this position.” History shows exactly what reliance we can place on the word of successive Pearse Stadium committees and the schedule submitted with the further information now differs from that submitted six months earlier. It further says that “On all these occasions the floodlighting will be switched off as early as is reasonable allowing for public safety after the games but in any event not later than 10.30 pm.” The original application said that the floodlights would be off no later than 21.30 pm. (An hour earlier).

It must be borne in mind that the young children living in the area go to bed earlier than adults and so they would be affected by lighting until the lighting goes off.

This letter now says that “in the event of floodlighting being provided there will be a maximum of sixteen occasions with full lux levels”, but their letter of 19/4/07 to the Planning Department of Galway City Council had only half that many and reads “We wish to confirm that the proposed number of games to be played under full lights (televised) will be eight per year”. It should also be noted that the proposed 32 night time games are in addition to the games already played during daylight hours. The submission should give a more comprehensive account of the activities they envisage taking place; football, hurling and other, stating days of week, time of year and time of day to give a true picture of the activity level they are seeking permission for. We are confident that a true account of this would highlight a major intensification of use and also effectively a material change of use which would be totally incompatible with the amenity of the local area.

Section 6:
It claims floodlighting will allow greater flexibility in scheduling events and makes unsubstantiated claims of these enhancing opportunities for business. Supporters attending games in the evening in winter will not be hanging around afterwards. The type of games that bring in business are those that take place early on, on a Saturday or Sunday. In this case people do not have to rush off. But if these games are moved to night time most of the business they generate will be lost. The big income generators are the concerts which do not want floodlights. They use their own lighting systems with which the flood lights are incompatible. As for events clashing, would they like to share with us what these might be?

Section 7:
They say that there will be little increase in use of the Stadium but to us an extra 32 nights of activity and inconvenience is no small thing. While one might think that a small attendance would indeed be easily managed, our experience is that the GAA accept no responsibility for anything that happens outside the boundary walls of Pearse Stadium. In fact they have stated this to be the case. It is also our experience that it is precisely these games with small attendances that are guaranteed to result in illegal parking in the immediate vicinity and they are below the thresholds that drive garda resources to be sent to the area. Contrary to the applicant’s assertions, no traffic management plan is in existence for these events. The traffic management plan submitted as part of the further information is rarely implemented and in any event only swings into effect for events with big attendances such as concerts. These concerts have nothing to do with the current application as the floodlighting is incompatible with the requirements of these events.

Note that despite the impression that might be created by the wording of this section, the Salthill Gardaí have neither worked on nor endorsed the latest Traffic Management Plan presented for this application. The assertions as to the very high standards in relation to crowd control, general safety and traffic flow in the vicinity of the grounds are also untrue. On more than one occasion, the gardaí have had to intervene at Pearse Stadium to ensure the safety of patrons and the GAA were less than cooperative on these occasions.


Section 8:
The general welfare of patrons (and of the locals) should indeed be a very high priority. But gate receipts seem to rate higher at Pearse Stadium. See our comments above. The details of the “lighting for the movement of patrons within and both entering and egressing safely” should be given in the submission as should their effect on the overall measurements for light levels given in the illuminance overspill drawings.

Section 9:
This statement is priceless. “Galway County Board GAA and the Pearse Stadium will continue with the good practice of meeting with local and national bodies in pre event planning exercises to ensure the continued good management of events”. If would be a good practice if it happened. They might meet with you if there was a chance of a grant for them but they do not meet with the local residents.

Section 10:
As this is just repetition of previous sections see our comments on previous sections above. As for the Aussie Rules game in 2006, this was a nightmare for the local residents. The lights were set up for several weeks beforehand and switched on every night. They were extremely intrusive and they pierced even very heavy curtains. The whole area was lit up every night for this period, disturbing sleep and causing a traffic hazard from the glare. It is this very experience that has driven home to us how disruptive floodlighting would be.

Section 11:
They are great for making statements of supposed facts without backing them up. It is then left to others to disprove them when it should be the applicant that has to prove their case. To state that the floodlighting at the listed sites is operating with negligible impact on their local communities is another falsehood. Try getting a statement from the local residents groups there and see what they say. You will also find major differences in the approaches to communication with local people, and in some cases people have sold their homes to the developers and moved elsewhere because the disruption to their lives would be too much.





Residential Density, Privacy and Overshadowing

Section 5.6 of “Residential Density; Guidelines for Planning Authorities” issued by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in September 1999, reads “It is an important quality of the residential environment that the private spaces of every dwelling should enjoy freedom from undue observation by others and that no undue loss of light is caused by overshadowing from adjoining higher buildings. This applies to all dwellings, whether they are located in proposed new developments or adjoining residential schemes. An individual has a right to expect freedom from undue observation or overshadowing in any new development.”

The same document advices that 22 metres distance between opposing first floor windows is an accepted norm in residential design.

It further advises that “Where new schemes are proposed in existing residential areas, the use of living rooms and balconies on upper floors can cause significant loss of amenity to adjoining dwellings if they are located close to the boundaries. A separation of 35 metres or greater or modified design should be considered in the case of overlooking living room windows and balconies.”

Section 5.6.2 of the same document reads “Overshadowing will generally only cause problems where buildings of significant height are involved or where new buildings are located very close to adjoining buildings. Planning authorities should require that daylight and shadow projection diagrams be submitted in all such proposals. The recommendations of “Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight: A guide to Good Practice” (B.R.E. 1991) or B.S. 8206 “Lighting for Buildings, Part 2 1992: Code of Practice for Daylighting” should be followed in this regard.”

Applying this to Pearse Stadium, the terraces from which spectators view games can be considered the equivalents of the balconies described above. The spectators on these terraces have a clear view into the homes on Rockbarton Road. Extending activities into night time would add to the overlooking and invasion of privacy suffered by residents and would be inconsistent with the Department’s guidelines.

Likewise, the overshadowing caused by the presence of the massive floodlighting columns and head frames would be inconsistent with the guidelines on overshadowing. Contrary to the same guidelines no daylight or shadow projection diagrams have been submitted.

Extract from An Bord Pleannála report on a floodlighting case in Ennis

The following is an extract from An Bord Pleannála report on a floodlighting case in Ennis, (RL2139) which have some applicability to that currently under consideration.

It is well established in case law that an intensification of use can constitute a material change of use – the key case here is Galway County Council v Lackage Rock Ltd [1985]. Although this case did not address specifically the issue of lighting, the courts have laid out a number of criteria in assessing whether a change is material. The primary one is that the change must affect the proper planning and (sustainable) development of the area – i.e. if the planning authority might reasonably have come to a different decision if it were aware of certain proposed changes. In this case I consider that floodlighting a playing pitch is material. It clearly extends the hours on which the playing field can be used (especially in the winter months), and it can have significant amenity impacts on adjoining properties and is potentially a traffic hazard when close to a public road. I therefore conclude that it is reasonable to consider the addition of floodlighting to an all weather pitch to be a material change.

The referrer has argued in detail that the use of floodlights is consistent with the character and nature of the area and the site. The GAA pitch seems to be long established, and it is part of an extended area of football pitches and open space. The area is zoned open space. However, the site is immediately adjacent to a residential area. Indeed, two of the floodlights are practically on the boundary with the rear garden of a residential property. Other lights point to the north, more or less directly at one residential property, and another property beyond this. The pitch is approximately 30 metres from the boundary with the road, with further houses the other side of the road. I therefore consider that the character of the area should be considered to be mixed open space/residential, and any planning application should be assessed accordingly. The GAA site is obviously open space/sporting in nature, but I consider that in reality floodlighting, by greatly extending the hours by which training/matches can take place, significantly alters the possible impact and hence the nature of use.

I do not consider an assessment of whether the floodlights are currently causing a serious injury to residential amenity or constituting a traffic hazard is necessary in regard to this referral. The key question is whether it would be reasonable to infer that the erection and use of floodlights could cause significant amenity harm or create a traffic hazard. Having regard to the potential direct and indirect impacts (light pollution and the extended use of the pitch into the evening), I consider that there is a strong likelihood of such an impact. I therefore conclude that the floodlights can be considered inconsistent with the character of the area, and so are development as defined in the Act.

Other Issues the GAA Submission Fails to Address

Financial Viability
No costing is given to give any confidence that the project would be financially viable in the long term. With their record at Pearse Stadium this is an important consideration. We do not need another lose making white elephant. We certainly do not want them coming with the begging bowl to the local authority or the state to bail them out. The rate paying business people would certainly not be happy with this in the current economic environment.

We remember the way they let the Stadium fall derelict for a number of years when they lost interest in maintaining it.

Even now they still refuse to spend the necessary money to rectify several outstanding breeches of existing planning conditions.


Health Issues
They have not addressed any of the extensive and serious health concerns that we raised in our submission on the original application.


Green House Emissions
Consuming large amounts of power to provide lighting to move activities to nigh time when they can just as well continue during daylight hours is not compatible with a green agenda. Unnecessary floodlighting contributes to a large amount of CO2 emissions.




Lose of Amenity: Is it Acceptable That………..?

We are entitled to live a peaceful existence in our own homes. Protection of this entitlement is the reason some areas are zoned for residential purposes and some are zoned for commercial or other uses. Both national and regional policies have as a core objective the preservation and enhancement of the amenity value of residential areas. The most pertinent local policies are those contained in the City Development Plan.

We previously posed the following questions in the local press to highlight how the residential amenity of the area is negatively impacted by activities at Pearse Stadium, and how the negative effect on the existing amenity would be increased if the current proposal for floodlighting were allowed.

Should some residents have to put in extra fencing to protect their property?

Is it acceptable that previous planning conditions to protect various aspects of this amenity are not enforced?

Should we have strangers knocking on our doors asking to use the toilet?

Should we have strangers using our gardens as toilets?

Should we accept being blocked in or out of our homes due to lack of adequate parking for events in the Stadium?

Should we have to suffer being stuck in traffic outside our homes?

Should we risk emergency services such as fire brigade not being able to gain access?

Should we have to tolerate litter on and adjacent our property?

Should we have to endure air horns being blown outside our homes?

Should we have to tolerate the noise of electricity generators?

Should we have to put up with crowd noises at night? We would point out that you could have great enjoyment as a participant at a loud, active party. However, your perception of that same party will be totally different if you are trying to sleep next door.

Should we have to listen to the public address system at night?

Should we be expected to allow massive advertising hoardings in front of our homes?

Is it acceptable that the GAA continue to solicit sponsorship for signs on a massive hoarding in front of the homes on Rockbarton Road despite the City Council’s planning department having rejected planning permission for this monstrosity?

Is it acceptable that the GAA would hold events in Pearse Stadium and totally wash their hands of any responsibility for helping deal with the problems arising?

Is it acceptable that proper and sustainable planning of the area be ignored to facilitate vested interests?

Should we accept devaluation and degradation of our homes and living environment?

Should we ignore the City development plan to suit vested interests?

Is it acceptable that anyone would try to erect four giant pylons whose technical specifications state that they can only withstand maximum wind speeds of 116 miles per hour when Met Eireann have recorded speeds of 125 miles per hour?

Is it acceptable that such pylons would be erected so close to existing homes and schools that should a part of the structure fall off it could result in fatal consequences?

Should we suffer from over shadowing by these masts?

Is it acceptable that the GAA would give guidelines in their official handbook on best practice in order to comply with planning conditions and then try to do the exact opposite in Pearse Stadium?

Is it acceptable that someone with no means other than the old age pension or who is unemployed has to pay every time they want to voice an opinion on a planning application that could have a major impact on their lives while a multi millions organisation can submit as many applications as they like without any cost because they are given exemption from paying fees?

Is it acceptable that TV cameras be mounted opposite peoples’ bedroom windows?

Should we have to tolerate the smell and noise from fast food trucks?

Should our children have their sleep interrupted by intrusive light and noise?

Should we run the risk of having sensitive equipment like laptop and PCs damaged by potential power surges when large amounts are suddenly drawn from the local grid?


Different laws for different people? . . 8/12/08


Last Friday’s edition of the Galway City Tribune contained an item titled "Court orders city B&B owner to take down illegal sign from guesthouse". It reported that as a result of erecting an unauthorised sign the City Council sent an enforcement order to the owner of the B&B telling him to remove it within a set time. In subsequent correspondence with the Council the B&B owner said he would be applying for retention, thereby acknowledging the outstanding matter. The sign was eventually removed and the Council were informed of this. They sent out a representative and confirmed that this was the case. However, within a matter of weeks another sign had been erected. The B&B owner was brought before the courts and fined.

You will recall from recent correspondence that the Galway GAA County Board acted in an identical fashion at Pearse Stadium. When the local residents highlighted this and asked the City Council what action they intended taking on the matter the reply was that the situation would be monitored, whatever that means. There the similarity appears to end. The City Council were quite prepared to take the appropriate action against the B&B owner, but it appears the GAA at Pearse Stadium are to be treated differently.

The residents here feel very naïve and foolish. We always thought that the planning laws, indeed any laws were supposed to be applied impartially and equitably to all. But it seems we were wrong. It seems that the laws that apply to B&B owners do not apply to the GAA at Pearse Stadium. Otherwise, how does one explain the actions taken in one case and their absence in the other?

Fantasy Traffic Management Plans and other Illusions 10/11/08


To paraphrase an oft quoted reference on the abuse of statistics, when it comes to Pearse Stadium there are lies, damned lies and the GAA version of the world. On October 2nd the City Council received a submission from OKM Ltd. on behave of their client, the Galway County GAA Board. It had statements on a car parking and traffic management plan, illegal signage and illegal communication aerials within the grounds at Pearse Stadium, and planting and signage outside the boundary wall.

The attached traffic management plan was a photocopy of the discredited plan they submitted in 2001. This is the same plan that the Garda Superintend in Salthill told the local residents was no good and that he does not use it. He also made a point that the GAA make no contribution to any of the costs associated with policing their events, and that normally he does not have the manpower to implement it even if it was acceptable. One might wonder why they could not update it to allow for developments since 2001. Is it because they expect it to be just rubber stamped again? The cover letter says "our client on all match day occasions will arrange parking facilities in said T.M.P." (Traffic Management Plan). We will not mince words. This is a blatant lie.

Following on the County final the Sunday before last we make the following brief comments. No traffic management plan was obvious apart from the placing of some "resident access only" signs at Glenard and some traffic bollards put out by the Gardai. There were no garda check points not to mind the eight mentioned in the so called plan. There were no park and ride facilities. The 500 car spaces at the Prairie of course have never existed. Of the supposedly confirmed 3450 available parking spaces specified in the plan, this was the reality. 1,100 spaces not available at Colaiste Einde. The gates were locked as usual outside of school time. 1,500 spaces not available at St. Mary’s College and any one who tied risked a €100 clamp release charge. 100 spaces at Galway Golf club not available as available only to members. Of 200 spaces at Knocknacarra Church only 120 actually exist and these are required by parishioners during parish services and events. 500 spaces at Dunnes Stores, Westside not available, as since this plan was first presented the supermarket has started Sunday opening and parking is allowed for customers only.

The parking took place on the streets and footpaths of the surrounding residential areas. We again had the usual parking on double yellow lines and grass verges, obstruction of corners, footpaths and gateways forcing pedestrians, wheelchair users and people with prams onto the roads. The roads were constricted with cars parked both sides half on the roads and half on the footpaths so that there was insufficient space for a fire brigade to pass in places if it were required. Cars were forced to reverse around blind corners when cars going in opposite directions met. Of course all this is "normal" to us when crowds congregate at Pearse Stadium despite the so call traffic management plan.

The deceit is confined to the TMP. The second item in the submission refers to illegal signage they were told to remove by the local planning authority. It states "Our client removed the signage in question over the score board on 10th September 2008" and they included a photograph as evidence of this. However, this was in place again three weeks later for the match on Sunday November 2nd. They have installed a fixture that allows them easily put up this illegal sign whenever they want. The existing planning conditions say no signs above a certain height. There is no exemption that says except when it suits the GAA to put it up. We have informed the planning authority of this and await with interest their response to this deliberate attempt to circumvent the existing planning conditions and make fools of the planning authority.

The third item mentioned in the submission in reference to illegal communications aerials states "our client will furnish a planning application a.s.a.p. for the retention of both aerials". We have already expressed our concern and disappointment to the planning authority that they have never seen fit to impose the sanctions on the GAA that would readily befall others for continuous, multiple breeches of planning laws.

A fourth item shows photographs of some creeper plants planted to screen the wall on Rockbarton Road. Some fourteen years after the planting was to be done to screen the wall from view we certainly do not accept that the planning condition has been met. There is way too much wall and too little greenery visible. A much more comprehensive planting scheme is required. Of course part of the problem is that the wall was not pebble dashed as it was supposed to be and so the plants have nothing to grip onto to allow them climb the wall.

The final item showed photographs of unsightly signage on O’hUiginn Road. At a minimum these should only be allowed be put up during games in the Stadium, and should be removed at other times.

These are just a few of the many outstanding problems that need to be addressed at Pearse Stadium, but we confine comment to these few as for some reason they have been included on this submission to the City Council Planning Authority. We have contacted the city council for clarification on what the submission is in connection with.

Resident's submission to City Council on second Floodlighing application..............9/6/08

Reference: File number 08299

We, the residents of Rockbarton Road and Rockbarton Green, strongly object to the planning application from Galway GAA County Board for Pearse Stadium, for the erection and installation of four floodlight masts 39 metres high with associated floodlights, control gear and site works.

People living in the vicinity are concerned as to the levels of pedestrian and motor activity that would be generated at night in what is currently a quite residential area, the levels of light and noise pollution, the hours to which it might extend safety issues, and negative impact on health and quality of life.

This application for the erection of floodlighting is basically a tweaked version of application reference no 07 404 which was withdrawn at the last minute of extended time. This version of the application, while reducing the height of the masts and light intensities is not a genuine attempt to respond to local concerns and fails to address any of the problems that would result if the proposal was allowed proceed. It is also notable that this new version omits some important supporting detail that accompanied the first. For example the detailed grid Lux diagram showing the intensities of light falling on adjacent houses. It is also strange how the applicant insisted during the first application that the masts could not be lowered without increasing the light pollution to unacceptable levels, but in this version they now claim that lower masts are acceptable.

Putting things in context
To put the proposals in context one needs to consider the layout of the Pearse Stadium and its intimate contact with the surrounding houses. Some houses share a common boundary with it. It is not unknown for the odd sliotar to end up in someone’s garden during a hurling match. The area surrounding the Stadium is a quite, peaceful, mature residential area described in the City Development plan as a mature residential suburb. It has a predominantly elderly population. It also has several families with young children. The residents are prepared to live with some inconvenience on daytime match days for a few hours. We accept that some traffic congestion around the schools in the immediate area is for the most part unavoidable. We accept that there will be overflow from the commercial centre of Salthill from time to time. We accept that traffic from events in Leisureland will sometimes spill over into the adjoining streets. But this is in a different league altogether.

This proposal involves the totally inappropriate intensification of use and a change from day time to night time use in what is effectively a quite, mature, residential area which can not meet the requirements for parking and traffic movements. It would place unreasonable restrictions on residents in the area until the crowds disperses after each match. It is intended to hold at least 38 nighttime matches a year according to a letter from The County Board to the City Council. It would lead to noise and light pollution, disturb sleep patterns and cause much anxiety to local people. It would also contravene the guidelines given in the GAA’s own club handbook and be contrary to the City Development Plan.


The Official GAA Guidelines
The official GAA website contains a club manual. In the section on planning it states that “There are a number of potential impacts accruing from grounds and facilities development which may raise cause for concern and ultimately comprise reasons for refusing planning permission. The main issues are summarised below as follows:

Issue Development
Light Pollution Floodlighting of car parking, pitch or training area
Noise and disturbance Generated generally by people participating in activities (i.e.) matches, training; spectating particularly during matches; large social gatherings (i.e.) club function; by equipment such as generators, refrigeration units and finally by servicing.
Visual Impact Unacceptable visual impact of structures including
Floodlighting, stands, indoor facilities and clubhouses in
visually sensitive areas.
Hazard to road safety Inadequate, dangerous or excessive traffic movements to and from a facility. ”


All of these issues and more arise with this application to an extent that would seriously degrade the quality of life of the local residents.

The same document under the heading “Best Practise – General Location and Siting” states that “New facilities likely to generate significant traffic and noise particularly in the evening, should not be located in residentially sensitive areas.

It goes on “New facilities especially where floodlighting is proposed (or there is a prospect of it being proposed) should not be located in visually prominent areas”.
It further makes the points that “Parking should not be located where it will interrupt the free flow of traffic”.

“Sufficient parking should be provided to discourage on street parking, especially in residential areas”

With regard to floodlighting, “Lighting should be designed to avoid lighting overspill into surrounding areas particularly in sensitive residential areas” and “clubs should consider the height and location of proposed structures in relation to the surrounding residential properties”.

The bottom line is that Pearse Stadium is in the wrong place for this type of development.


How big is it?
The surrounding residential one and two story properties would be dwarfed by the four giant masts. Even with the reduced height they would still be the height of a fourteen story building. They would actually be closer to the people in neighbouring houses that some of the spectators at a match. To contemplate allowing these would make a mockery of height restrictions which were attached to previous applications for good reasons. For example among the conditions imposed on the houses at Na Cuilini, which was originally part of the site, was that the pitch of the roofs had to be modified so that the ridge on the two story houses would be reduced by at least one metre. (See planning files reference numbers 97/386 and 97/392).


How safe is it?
The masts described in the first application were supposed to be able to withstand wind speeds of 52m per second (116 miles per hour) but according to Met Eireann wind speeds of 125 mph have being recorded in Ireland. The proposed attachments on top of each mast to hold the lights would act like sails to catch the wind and should winds approaching some of those already recorded occur, it does not bear thinking about. Was it only the mast that was rated to withstand wind speeds of 116 mph in the previous version of the application? We imagine that the attachment at the top could not have been, and that even the mast could not if the attachment was catching severe winds at such a height. The west and northwest of Ireland and Scotland have the highest winds in Europe. The applicant fails to give ratings for this version of the proposal. This is a serious omission in view of the catastrophe that could have result if the first proposal got the go ahead, and in view of the fact that this version still has the masts at locations M1 and M2 closer to houses than their 39 metre length.

The Health and Safety issues do not end there.



Light Pollution
A Lighting Impact assessment has not been published. The impact of light pollution on the local residents and the wider community does not appear to have been adequately researched. Current background levels should be measured and compared to what a proper model would predict for the proposed lighting system.

Light pollution causes night time vision to be impaired which can be dangerous to motorists and pedestrians as well as causing damage and confusion to flora and fauna. Light pollution can also remove an individual’s privacy, cause sleep disturbance, wastes energy and has been linked with several serious health problems.


Health Affects
Medical research on the effects of excessive light on the human body suggests that a variety of adverse health effects may be caused by light pollution or excessive light exposure. Health effects of over-illumination or improper spectral composition of light may include: increased headache incidence, fatigue, medically defined stress, decrease in sexual function and increase in anxiety, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and depression. Several published studies also suggest a link between exposure to light at night and risk of several cancers, particularly breast cancer in women, due to suppression of the normal production of Melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the brain when the body receives a signal that light levels have dropped below a certain level. This hormone plays a critical part in regulating these factors mentioned above in the human body. It is also an important antioxidant that helps maintain the body’s immune system. The human body has evolved over time to survive in an environment with a natural and regular 24 hour cycle of day and night. Exposure to bright light during the night time part of the cycle interferes with the body’s natural cycles. Light stops the production of melatonin and so cholesterol and blood pressure levels rise and the immune system weakens. Melatonin affects receptors on cancer cells putting them to sleep. When the melatonin disappears the cancer cells wake up again.

The brighter the light, the stronger it suppresses the melatonin production. Research shows “that the tumor growth response to exposure to light during darkness is intensity dependent and that the human nocturnal, circadian melatonin signal not only inhibits human breast cancer growth but that this effect is extinguished by short-term ocular exposure to bright, white light at night.” This explains why people who work night shifts are more likely to get breast cancer, why cancer is most prevalent in industrialized regions of the world, and why decreased incidence of breast cancer is found in blind women.

The more intense the night-time light, the stronger it suppresses the melatonin synthesis. Some people are more sensitive to night-time illumination’s action than others, for example, women are generally more sensitive than men. Light pollution can cause premature reproductive system aging, and increase the risk of breast cancer and large intestine cancer in women. Night workers more often suffer from large intestine or rectal cancers. In addition, irregular light can cause sleep disturbance, gastronomical and cardiovascular diseases, metabolic derangements and, possibly increase the likelihood of developing diabetes.

Humans evolved without electric light over thousands and thousands of generations. The body is designed to be awake and alert during daytime hours and to sleep at night. Our 24-7 society is out of harmony with our biological design.

That design is the circadian system-internal rhythms that repeat roughly every 24 hours. The sleep/waking cycle is the rhythm we’re most familiar with, but the body is constantly adjusting its internal machinery to the ebb and flow of hormones, the rise and fall of body temperature, and other subtle rhythms – to mesh with the 24-hour solar day. Monitoring and directing this is the brain’s master clock, the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN).

When wavelengths of light hit the photoreceptors in the back of the eye, signals are sent to the SCN. The SCN resets itself daily by tracking the strength of the signals. Weaker ones at night, when it is dark trigger the release of melatonin from the pinal gland in the brain.

Melatonin slows body functions and lowers blood pressure and so lowers body temperature. Conversely, a strong light signal during the day reverses the process; other hormones are released, raising blood pressure and core body temperature, as melatonin production declines.

Cells throughout the body, including cancer cells, have melatonin receptors, and when melatonin makes its nightly rounds, cell division slows.

Two hours of bright light can knock down melatonin to daytime levels. Short light wavelengths, such as those at the blue end of the spectrum, (found in fluorescent and halogen lights), suppress melatonin the most. In a healthy person, you can measurably curb melatonin with as little as 1.3 lux of blue light.

We maintain that an approach similar to that with smoking should be adopted. If you want to risk damage to your health by smoking that is your own concern, but do not force someone else to engage in passive smoking. If someone wants to expose themselves to health risks by over exposure to bright light at night, that is up to them. But those of us who do not want to be exposed to such risk should not be forced into suffering it.


Glare is the result of excessive contrast between bright and dark areas in the field of view. Light shining into the eyes of pedestrians or motorists can obscure night vision for up to an hour after exposure. Caused by high contrast between light and dark areas, glare can also make it difficult for the human eye to adjust to the differences in brightness. Glare is particularly an issue in road safety, as bright and/or badly shielded lights around roads may partially blind drivers or pedestrians unexpectedly, and contributes to accidents. It particularly affects the elderly.

Because of the lower height compared to the first version of this application the beams from the floodlights would have to be closer to the horizontal than before which would increase the likelihood of light spillage.

We maintain that the illumination of the pitch and space above it would result in unacceptable sky glow and that this would be unacceptably intrusive to surrounding properties.


Noise Pollution
Light trespass on bedrooms would not be the only stress factor invading our homes.
Noise pollution from transport, generators, low frequency vibrations from trucks and buses, or nuisance noise from spectators, service vehicles and public address systems would all assail us. There would likely be noise generated by the wind blowing through the light structures. All this noise is even less acceptable at night than during the day. During the Australian rules game the noise caused by spectators banging the advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch was terrible. The air horns both inside and outside the stadium are even worse.

An Bord Pleanala laid down the condition that the Galway Bay Hotel had to ensure that “activities carried out therein shall not make or cause to be made any noise or vibration which is so loud, so continuous or so repeated or of such duration of pitch or at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in any premises in the neighbourhood or to persons lawfully using any public place”. Its reason; to prevent annoyance by reason of noise to occupants of nearby premises and to safeguard the amenities of the area. Proper planning would require the same conditions be attached to any development in or adjoining this residential area. The present application is in conflict with such requirements and so should be refused. Irish Law now legislates for noise pollution. In fact the wording used by An Board Pleanala seems to be taken from the wording of the legislation.

The proposals would enable use of the pitch in evenings during the hours of darkness at times residents can legitimately expect a degree of quiet. It should also be borne in mind that young children will normally go to bed earlier than most adults. The noise and light disturbance to their sleep patterns would be unacceptable and certainly not in keeping with the Councils aspiration for Galway to be a child friendly city as given as an objective of the City Development Plan. Nor would this distraction be conducive to activities involving concentration such as students trying to study.

A noise impact assessment providing details of background noise levels and modelling predicted noise levels at evening matches was not conducted. Such a study should be conducted for this type of application.




Amenity/Privacy
The proposed development would extend the times/dates during which it will be possible to hold activities at Pearse Stadium. This will infringe the privacy of local residents and curtail their enjoyment of their properties. The lack of suitable parking facilities is already a serious problem for residents and this situation is likely to worsen with the extended programme of events. The presence of crowds at later times in the evening /night is also a source of concern for residents. Just as residents can look out their windows, over the wall at the match spectators the same spectators can look into through our windows.


Galway City Council Development Plan 2005-2011
We take comfort in the existence of the Galway City Council Development Plan 2005-2011 which includes as one of its four strategic goals “providing for a built and natural environment that is of high quality and that contributes to providing a good quality of life for residents and visitors.” In section 11.2 on Land Use Zoning it states that “In the boundary areas of adjoining zones it is necessary to avoid developments which would be detrimental to the amenities of the more environmentally sensitive zones. For instance, in areas abutting residential zones a particular proposal may not be acceptable which could be acceptable in other parts of the zone. Where a site for a proposed development straddles the boundary of different land use zones the permitted density on the overall site will be an average between the different zones subject to residential amenity”.

It further enforces this comfort when it states that the zoning objective for residential and low density residential zones is to provide for residential development which will ensure the protection of existing residential amenity and will contribute to sustainable residential neighbourhoods. The current application conflicts with this.

The chapter on Housing states as part of its aim “To ensure that residential neighbourhoods will have a sense of identity and will foster sustainable living and movement patterns. To improve the quality and to protect the character of Galway’s older residential neighbourhoods and to regenerate the city centre’s residential neighbourhoods.” The strategy statement for achieving this is to “Protect, enhance and explore opportunities for environmental improvements to existing residential areas”.

The first paragraph of page six of the plan states “In general the Council will protect and enhance the character of existing residential neighbourhoods through development standards and through the implementation of environmental improvements.”


This is followed by Policy no. 2.2 Neighbourhoods.
Encourage the development of sustainable residential neighbourhoods, which will provide for high quality, safe, accessible living environments which accommodates local community needs.
Encourage sustainable neighbourhoods, through appropriate guidelines and standards and through the implementation of Local Area Plans.
Protect and enhance new/existing residential neighbourhoods through appropriate guidelines and standards.

The current application is also incompatible with the development plan’s concept of “Home zones” which it says “may consist of shared surfaces, indirect traffic routes, areas of planting and features to encourage the use of the street for amenity. These features allow for traffic calming and design features that are used to indicate to traffic, the entrance to a “home zone”. “Home zones” allow streets to become play and amenity areas and therefore can contribute to Galway’s role as a “child friendly city”.

As part of an enforcement procedure for previous transgressions we would suggest linking two triangles that are supposed to be landscaped at the boundary at either end along Rockbarton Road and moving the boundary wall where they put unauthorised entrances back by a couple of metres to provide a community amenity space in keeping with the principle of “Home Zones” outlined in the development plan. The loss of property to the GAA while not taking from the usable space of the Stadium would be one appropriate response to their numerous transgressions of the planning laws and would sent out the signal that they will no longer be tolerated.

Salthill is classified in the plan as an established suburb. In section 2.4 it states that “it is the priority of the Council to ensure that new development will not adversely affect the character of the area. In this regard infill development should not be of such a scale that represents a major addition to or redevelopment of the existing urban fabric. In this respect, infill development will have regard to the existing pattern of development, plots, blocks, streets and spaces. Infill development will also have regard to the scale and proportion of existing buildings, building lines, massing and height of buildings in relation to the street”.

In section 9.3 it reads “The Council will discourage the spread of uses which would lead to the deterioration of the attractiveness and amenity value of the area”.

Chapter 11 of the Plan begins “The Council is required to control development to ensure that permissions granted under the Planning and Development Act 2000 are consisted with the policies and objectives of the development plan.”

In section 11.2 it gives the zoning objective for residential area as “to provide for residential development and for associated support development which will ensure the protection of existing residential amenity and will contribute to sustainable residential neighbourhoods.”


It also states
“In the boundary areas of adjoining zones it is necessary to avoid developments which would be detrimental to the amenities of the more environmentally sensitive zones. For instance, in areas abutting residential zones a particular proposal may not be acceptable which could be acceptable in other parts of the zone. Where a site for a proposed development straddles the boundary of different land use zones the permitted density on the overall site will be an average between the different zones subject to residential amenity”.

In essence then the City Development Plan puts a legal onus on the City Council to protect the amenity value of residential areas and where a conflict may arise at the boundary of zones the rights of the more sensitive zone takes precedence. It is a requirement and not just an option that development is controlled to ensure that permissions under the Planning and Development Act 2000 are consistent with the policies and objectives of the development plan. As the current proposal would very seriously injure this amenity it must be rejected.



Parking and Traffic Circulation
The existing parking plan for matches is deficient and it is based on misinformation. The venue could hold a crowd of 34,000 people but the surrounding area has only got adequate space for residential parking. The last traffic management plan seen by residents presumes the availability of parking in school grounds and the racecourse six miles away and a park and ride service from there. It assumes the availability of 500 non existent parking spaces at The Prairie. It lists parking spaces along the Prom in Salthill that are usually already filled on any ordinary evening when nothing special is on in the area. It expects people to park along the side of the road all the way out to the Barna Silver Strand junction and to walk in from there and back again afterwards in the dark. It does not indicate where residents are to park.

The conditions imposed to provide satisfactory car parking arrangements when permission was granted for the current stand (planning register reference number 541/94) required that 500 spaces be available at Arus Bothar na Tra. Thirty spaces would be closer to the reality. It also required that additional facilities for up to 1500 cars proposed at Colaiste Einde grounds shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities at the Arus are inadequate. There is no guarantee that the relevant boards of management are prepared to allow this even if the space exists. These conditions were laid down thirteen years ago, when there were a lot fewer cars on the roads, in the interests of road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity. They still have not being complied with. When there is a large attendance at an event in Pearse Stadium, even if the crowd disperses from the immediate area reasonably quickly there is traffic back log for hours afterwards as motorists try to get out of Salthill.

Residents are fed up with cars being parked on footpaths in the area forcing pedestrians, including those with prams, and wheelchair users off the path and onto the middle of the road. Even when the Gardai put out parking bollards these are often ignored. While being blocked from entering or exiting your driveway is an annoyance, the real fear is that some day there will be a hold up in an emergency situation. There has lately being an intensification of usage in the Stadium and incidents like these are causing residents’ patience and tolerance to wear thin. When this is further exasperated by GAA officials flouting the law, refusing to refrain from blocking footpaths with trailers from which they sell tickets, residents complaints and concerns being ignored down through the years and the apparent reluctance of the Gardai and City Council to take any action against them for their transgressions the potential for a major confrontation exists.

If games are held on any week days (Monday to Friday) it should also be noted that the arrival of patrons for matches in the evenings would correspond with the time many locals would be returning home from their day’s work.

The proposed development would, therefore, endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road users and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.


Negative Economic affects on the Locality
Local B & Bs and the Rockbarton Park Hotel are effectively cut off from potential customers when police road blocks are in place in an effort to control traffic and parking so as to avoid blocking access and egress to and from residents’ homes. If controls are not put in place, then traffic congestion results. If they are, it just pushes the congestion further away from the Stadium. In all the years the Stadium has being here no one has come up with a viable solution to this problem. The Pearse Stadium is simply in the wrong place. The traffic congestion has a direct negative impact on certain professions in the area such as that of taxi driver. This can last for hours after an event.


Waste Management
Even when there is an adequate supply of bins by Galway Corporation there is always litter left on both private and public property after events in Pearse Stadium. There is no control exercised over hawkers who are among the worst offenders when it comes to litter. Would this be swept up after the games at night or the following morning? If done at night there would be the noise of road sweepers and if left till the next day an increased likelihood of attracting vermin.


A Dirty big sign
A second application was submitted for permission to erect signage along the full length of the Rockbarton Road terrace. It would have extended about sixteen feet above the existing boundary wall which is already about ten feet high. How would you like to be looking out your front window with this directly in front of you? Not much chance of seeing the sun staring back at you. This shows a total disregard for the residents. Past experience would lead us to believe that should this application be granted that the applicant would again attempt to erect these signs with or without permission. In fact one year after the refusal they are still using their web site to solicit sponsorship for advertising on the rejected signage.


Property Values
Property values in a given residential area are a measure of the desirability of living in that area, which in turn is a measure of its amenity value. The loss of amenity which would result if this proposal was allowed would be reflected in depreciation in property values.


No Environmental Impact Assessment
Under the European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1989, Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are required for various classes and sizes of development project. The first Schedule of the Regulations specifies the types of development for which an EIS is required. These include developments within an existing urban area of two hectares or more. The site has an area of 3.52 hectares and would have a major impact on a much larger area. An Environmental Impact study should be required as should consultation with the local population.

Visual Impact
No visual impact assessment of the proposed development was presented. The proposed structures have the potential to generate a significant impact on the visual amenity of the local residents, particularly those whose homes face onto Pearse Stadium. It is contended that a Visual Impact Assessment conducted by suitably qualified experts be requested in order that all potential visual impacts are identified.

Watch the sun go down on Galway Bay.
One of the attractions for tourists and locals alike is to “watch the sun go down on Galway Bay”. In fine weather crowds watch and photograph the beautiful red sunsets made famous the world over by Bing Crosby’s song. Later in the summer the sun is actually seen as setting over land if viewed from Salthill. The proposed masts would damage this world famous visual amenity. They certainly would not be consistent with the importance attached to visual amenity in planning reference 97/386 which stipulated that “electricity, telephone and TV cables shall be laid underground in the interests of visual amenity”. The presence of such masts would also result in unwanted shadowing.


Previous Form
The GAA’s record in regard to adherence to conditions attached to previous planning applications for Pearse Stadium is not exactly squeaky clean. In fact it is abysmal. In our view, repeat offenders in the planning process should have onerous terms attached for non-compliance with any permission that might be granted or indeed not have any applications entertained until conditions attached to previous grants of permission have been complied with. Otherwise the planning process as in the case of Pearse Stadium could become a joke. Some local authorities have demanded that housing estates be demolished where conditions laid down were not complied with.

A search of the Planning Office’s database throws up an astonishing record of applications for retention of work carried out in breech of previous conditions.

Many conditions such as the one mentioned above for parking spaces have never being complied with. This also raises serious questions on the quality and level of checking for compliance and of enforcement by the local authority, particularly as the non-compliances have been raised several times by local residents.

The following summary of planning history for the site is taken directly from the official planning report on 07/438 in which they tried to impose massive advertising hoardings on Rockbarton Road and which thankfully was rejected by the planning authority. Many conditions on the first file 94/541 are still not met.

Planning History
94/541 – Permission granted for construction of a new stand, revised pitch layout, new terracing, toilets, dressing rooms and ancillary facilities, including revised entrances and exits along southern and eastern perimeter boundary walls.

00/720 - Permission granted to retain and complete toilet block in revised location from previously approved permission 541/94.

06/136 - Permission granted by Galway City Council for retention of revised entrances/turnstiles to southern/south-western boundaries.

06/250 - Permission granted by An Bord Pleanala for retention for increase in height of lift shaft block above that approved under Pl. Reg. Ref. No. 541/94. This decision upheld a decision by Galway City Council to grant retention for the development.

06/407 – Permission granted for retention of public information and health and safety signs to the southern/south western boundaries.

For years the GAA has flouted the planning laws in Pearse Stadium. Worse still the City Council has turned a blind eye to this and has refused to issue and enforce enforcement orders. No action has being taken against those who have breeched the planning laws with impunity. And no action has being taken against those who failed in their duty to police this.

Taking just one application as an example, that with planning reference 541/94 for the stand has several violations. Condition 3 (a) stated that parking facilities for 500 cars shall be available at Aus Bothar na Tra for all sporting events. Condition 3 (c) stated that the additional car parking facilities for up to 1500 cars proposed at Colaiste Einde grounds shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities outlined at (a) above are inadequate to meet the needs of these events. There was years of wrangling with residents before steel grillage was put on the rear of the stand. Unauthorised signs were put up. Extra entrances and exits were put up without permission. The triangular area on the South Eastern corner opposite the main entrance was to be kerbed, top soiled, grassed and planted with semi-mature trees (minimum 15 ft. high). All of this was brought to the attention of the City Council several times, always with the same result. That is no result.

Previous Conditions laid down that indicate how important it was considered that the amenity of the area should be protected

Pitch of roof on houses at Na Cuilini to be reduced so that the ridge be lowered by at least 1 metre in order to reduce the overall height of the dwelling to ensure it will be compatible with the overall development of the area.

No shed or other structure was to exceed 2.5 metres in height in order to prevent excessive building density and protect the visual amenity of the area.

The attic was only allowed be used for storage to ensure it does not result in an excessive intensity of use of the site.

Electricity, telephone and TV cables shall be laid underground in the interests of visual amenity.

Two circular gable windows shall be omitted to maintain the amenity of adjoining lands.


Errors and Omissions in the Kyne & Clyne’s Report
Dealing specifically with the report by Kyne & Clyne which is practically all that has being submitted to support the application apart from site layout drawings we note the following inaccuracies, errors and omissions.

Page 2 section 1.
The report claims that Kyne and Clyne have been provided with a comprehensive set of design calculations to demonstrate that they can achieve a reduction in light pollution which will limit the impact on surrounding properties. No such calculations or assumptions on which they would be based are supplied with this application. Detailed figures were given in original the version of the application now withdrawn and we believe that they are now omitted because they were detrimental to the applicant’s case. . As a consequence the author has failed to support the whole basis of the report “to determine the extent of light pollution created from the proposed lighting installation and the subsequent effects of this light pollution”. The absence of the comprehensive set of calculations alluded to is a serious omission for this type of application.

Page 4 section 4
The first line of section 4 correctly identifies that glare to the surrounding locality is an undesirable nuisance. Further, it states “Unfortunately the evaluation of Glare Rating cannot be extended to include surrounding residential areas as involuntary participants”. What do they mean by this? Is not the problem that glare will have a negative affect on the surrounding areas? So just ignore it?

According to the report glare is given as 52 at houses but section 3 gives maximum value allowed of 30 for an E3 environmental zone and 20 for E2 zone. In fact because there is currently no night time lighting in Pearse Stadium some of the surrounding area would be more correctly classified as an E2 environmental zone (i.e. low district brightness area

The glare rating assessment scale gives a value of 50 as just admissible. This is for the sports field not the houses.

This seems to correspond to the levels in figure 2 which is given for a Lux output of 750 Lux. But it does not highlight that these readings reach at least 130 at the houses for a Lux output of 1000 Lux as in the case of a hurling match. (See figure 2).

The final line of page 4 is a nonsense statement. If they can generate proper models for the lux values, why not do so for the specific equipment they are proposing and for the conditions of this specific site. We also note that there is no mention of what modelling software they are using or what assumptions they have feed in.

Page 5 section 5.
This is just a general statement with no specifics to the proposed project. There is no specification supplied and it would seem that they are trying to get a general permission and then do what they like afterwards.

Page 6 section 6.
The ground pressure and general conditions on site have not even been established so the foundation design can not be specified.

No figures are given for wind loadings. Remember on the original withdrawn application the masts were not even rated to withstand wind speeds that have being recorded by Met Eirinn, not to mind a margin for safety.

The inspection and maintenance procedures are not specified. Are the lights to be raised and lowered for these? Is a movable platform to be raised? Are they to bring in a giant crane? How often? For how long? How is access to be gained?

Page 6 Impact on Surrounding Properties
Where are the calculations?
There is no grid of Lux values as supplied in the first application. The attached drawings are so reduced in scale as to be worthless and illegible. The contours have no values on them and the drawing scale is so small they can not be distinguished. The applicant obviously has major problems with the light levels and is trying to do a whitewash of the facts.

Page 7 Last paragraph of section 6.
Why would you design and model for one set of conditions and then implement a different set up on the ground. Is it because the computer model is only a rough guide and can not actually give accurate values? (Even if a proper model was used at all?).

Page 7 section 7
The report incorrectly categorises the residential area in question as being in an E4 Environmental zone. The correct categorisation is E3 for part of the area or even E2 on some sides which would be correctly described as low district brightness areas.


Appendix D – Design Considerations for Residents.
This is just a list of aspirations without any specification as to how they can be implemented. Nor does it give quantitative values for the current baseline situation or the final effects to be achieved.

You can talk all you like about optimum design to reduce height of structures but you can not hide or make four masts 39 metres high blend in with an area of mainly two story houses.

You can play with words but if such structures are put between you and the sun or any other light source you will be covered in shadow.

Is someone trying to be funny when they say “There may be occasions where the nature of the event (hurling game being televised live being the primary example) and the weather conditions may result in a higher light spill at particular locations.” We are talking about a Gaelic pitch and games played mainly in winter. Readings for worst case should be included as part of the application.

They stated in section 4 that “Unfortunately the evaluation of Glare Rating cannot be extended to include surrounding residential areas as involuntary participants”. How then can they draw the conclusion that their design will eliminate discomfort glare to traffic on adjacent streets. This glare by the way would be more than a discomfort; it would be a traffic hazard.

As for the event plan being currently implemented, we would dispute this. Where is the event management plan? As residents living in the area we can confirm that there is no satisfactory management plan in place and that over the years no one has been able to come up with one that was satisfactory. We are constantly blocked into or out of our homes by cars parking across our driveways. Pedestrians and wheelchair users are impeded by cars parked on the footpaths. As recently as May 18th there was a confrontation with GAA staff blocking a footpath with an unregistered trailer from which they were selling match tickets and they refused to move it off the path. When the residents went looking for someone in authority in the Pearse Stadium none of the security staff, GAA stewards or office staff could say who was in charge of the event, or with whom they could speak to have the issue resolved.

As to complying with directions not to mind recommendations of the planning authority, past experience would lead to the expectation that they would only be honoured in the breech, and further that the planning authority would fail in its duty of enforcement.

The comment on noise levels is another meaningless one. There would be some noise from the wind blowing through the structures and the level of noise that would be associated with the maintenance procedures is unknown as these procedures have not been specified. However, the real noise can be expected to be generated from human activity. From people coming and going, cheering, blowing those awful air horns and banging on the signage around the pitch.

The design of the foundation for the masts is not specified as the ground conditions have yet to be examined. Even if there is no problem with foundations this does not get rid of the possibility of the masts or bits of the lighting structures falling and crashing through houses, in which case there would most definitely be structural impacts. Remember two of the masts are closer to houses than their 39 metre height.

Figures 1 and 2 are lacking in clarity and detail.
The report supplied by OKM Architects contains two diagrams labelled “Figure 1” and “Figure 2”. The scale is so reduced that contour lines can not be distinguished or counted. We request that the applicant be asked to submit proper, legible Lux diagrams, with detailed levels indicated.

The conditions for which the data is given should be clearly stated with each drawing, and should include worst case conditions. We note that buried in the report is a comment that under certain conditions readings could be higher than indicated on the existing drawings. Oddly enough these conditions include hurling matches and bad weather conditions, (in a GAA pitch in winter?). The readings should also be given at the level of bedroom windows of the houses in the area.

TV cameras would require a structure from which to operate. There is no mention of this in the report. At the moment a structure does be erected in front of the bedroom windows of a house in the Cuilini. There is no planning permission for this, and it is not acceptable to the residents.


Maintenance Procedures
What cleaning and maintenance procedures are proposed? Regular cleaning of the floodlight glass would be required. ILE Technical report No. 7 (Institution of Lighting Engineers) stipulates an electrical and mechanical inspection regime with such checks as security of floodlight brackets. The application does not supply any documentation to explain how this is to be implemented. Would the lights be raised and lowered to carry out these procedures or would a huge crane lift a platform up to them? How often and by what route would such a crane if required gain access. If a platform is to be raised, how big is it?


Where else could guidance be found?
When looking for something similar that might offer guidance on how the proposed masts might be treated from planning perspective we thought that there was some similarity with the towers of modern wind turbines. With this in mind would you be allowed position four wind turbines where it is proposed to place the masts? Definitely not. The idea would be turned down straight away on health and safety grounds.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Planning Guidelines for Wind Energy Development section 5.8 states “that although wind turbines erected in accordance with standard engineering practice are stable structures, best practice indicates that it is advisable to achieve a safety set back from national and regional roads, and railways of a distance equal to the height of the turbine and blade”. Such a standard should be an absolute minimum for the distance to the nearest houses and this condition is not satisfied.

The Department’s guidelines also address the question of proximity to Power lines in section 5.9. and notes that there is a statutory obligation to notify the electricity developer of any developments within 23 metres of any transmission or distribution line.
Section 6.8 says that “Turbine height is critical in landscapes of relatively small scale, or comprising features and structures such as houses and it must be carefully considered so as to achieve visual balance and not to visually dominate”.

The entire document is 119 pages long and contains many technical points which would be applicable to the current proposal and which are not addressed in the application lodged with Galway Corporation.


These structures could also be compared in some ways to giant telecommunications towers. Indeed we believe that the current application is only one of a series of applications that would be lodged if the first were to be granted permission. We do not doubt that a latter application would go in to have communications equipment attached to the masts. In fact we are informed that at least one mobile phone company has being told that masts will become available to them and it has been suggested to us that it would not even require planning permission. While not mentioned in this application this information is a further concern that would need to be addressed. If looking for other sources of guidance it could be appropriate to have a look at the Department of Environment’s publication “Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures - Guidelines for Planning Authorities (July 1996)”. This document again highlights the importance of any structure blending in with its surroundings and is not in favor of placing free-standing masts in a residential area or beside a school.

If the proposed masts were to fall for any reason they could potentially crash through any houses within 39 metres of their base. This become particularly important when you consider that these masts were specified in the initial application to be supposed to be able to withstand wind speeds of 52m per second (116 miles per hour) but according to Met Eireann wind speeds of 125 mph have being recorded in Ireland. The proposed attachments on top of each mast to hold the lights would act like sails to catch the wind and should winds approaching some of those already recorded occur, it does not bear thinking about. Is it only the mast that is rated to withstand wind speeds of 116 mph? We imagine that the attachment at the top could not, and that even the mast could not if the attachment was catching severe winds at such a height. The current version of the application fails to give any specifications in this regard and in view of the previous shortfall in specification against potential live conditions this is a very serious omission.


In Conclusion.
The residents oppose this application as inappropriate to the location, out of scale and character with, and damaging to residential amenity in terms of light, noise, intensity and timing of use, inadequacy of traffic flow and management, lack of parking, health and safety concerns, conflict with previous planning conditions and city development plan, poor aesthetics and overshadowing by masts, loss of privacy, general disruption and injury to our quality of life, as well as incorrect and insufficient documentation supplied. It would be particularly disturbing to children trying to sleep. For all the above reasons the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and should be refused. The bottom line is that Pearse Stadium is in the wrong place for this kind of development.


Yours sincerely,

Noel Molloy
Rockbarton Road and Rockbarton Green Residents

City Council turn Blind Eye to GAA’s flouting of Planning Laws...........5/6/08

For years the GAA has flouted the planning laws in Pearse Stadium. Worse still the City Council has turned a blind eye to this and has refused to issue and enforce enforcement orders. No action has being taken against those who have breeched the planning laws with impunity. And no action has being taken against those who failed in their duty to police this.

We sincerely hope that the planning staff, who are now charged with the job of deciding on the latest application, will behave with greater integrity and professionalism than some of their predecessors. Let us hasten to add that at this point we have no reason to doubt either their professionalism or integrity.

If one goes through the history of planning applications for Pearse Stadium one finds that half of them are applications for retention of work that breeched previous applications. Taking just one application as an example, that with planning reference 541/94 for the stand has several violations. The final stand was bigger than that applied for. Permission was conditional on 2000 parking spaces being available at Arus Bothar na Tra and Colaiste Einde. There was years of wrangling with residents before steel grillage was put on the rear of the stand. Unauthorised signs were put up. Extra entrances and exits were put up without permission. The tarmaced triangular area on the South Eastern corner opposite the main entrance was to be kerbed, top soiled, grassed and planted with semi-mature trees (minimum 15 ft. high). All of this was brought to the attention of the City Council several times, always with the same result. That is no result.

Further violations could be listed and should we find ourselves in the position of having to go to another authority they most certainly will. Even at this late stage we call on the City Council to take action on all outstanding violations. Indeed we believe it makes a mockery of the whole planning process if any new application is even considered before this is done.







GAA above the Law? ....................29/5/08

The ordinary GAA fans were generally well behaved at the Galway-Roscommon match on the Sunday before last, (18/5/08), although there were a few exceptions. However, the same can not be said for some of the GAA staff selling tickets into the match. Their behaviour was something to be ashamed of.

Early in the morning they parked a trailer from which match tickets were sold on and blocking the footpath on Rockbarton Road. When asked by the residents to move it off the path they refused. A complaint was phoned to Salthill Garda station about 12.15 pm. The Gardai confirmed that parking in this manner was illegal but when they heard it was GAA committing the offence they did not want to know.

The residents asked several security personnel and several GAA people wearing high visibility vests with Connacht GAA Council written on them, and a woman working in the office who was in charge of the site for the day, or who could the residents contact if they had a problem that needed to be addressed. None of them could tell us. Eventually it was suggested that it might be a Mr. Collins but when his mobile was rang it was answered by someone else who did not know where he was. This was an event with thousands of people in attendance and the stewards and officials could not say who was in charge.

One and a half hours later still no response from the Gardai. Residents then called a garda who came to be standing nearby but he did not want to get involved. He refused to take any action against the GAA and at that stage even refused to ask them to move off the footpath.

Two community wardens working for the City Council then called over and to give them their due they did try to resolve the situation. They said that they could not give a parking ticket to them because there was no registration plate on the trailer. That in itself is also against the law. As voices became a little raised the Garda then asked them to move but they refused again until they would be told to do so by the GAA. To our astonishment the Garda just left without enforcing his authority or the law.

We then had a situation where the GAA people were refusing to move for a Garda and two community wardens unless they were told to do so by the GAA officials inside the Pearse Stadium. They also claimed that they had being told to park it there by Superintendent Noel Kelly at a meeting the previous Wednesday. This we doubt.

At this stage it was obvious that the residents’ anger was rising and the community warden to his credit became more forceful and made them move a few yards.

The residents were incensed and so a little later went to Salthill Garda Station to make a formal compliant of the illegal parking, causing an obstruction, illegally having trailers on the public road without registration plates and refusing to follow the direction of a garda. They had a second trailer without registration plates parked on the clearway at the gate to St. Enda’s national school.

At the Garda station they discovered that the original complaints had not being even logged. How long has this being going on? Is there no record of all the complaints that have being made in the past?

Is the GAA really so powerful that even the Gardai are afraid to take action when they break the law? If so what should be done about it?

Increased Cancer Risk with Floodlights - 21/5/08

We would like to inform the general public of the Galway County Board’s latest application for the erection of floodlighting in Pearse Stadium which they submitted on May 7th. While they have reduced the height of the masts and the intensity of the lights compared to the original application it is really just a resubmission of the first application. It is amazing that they can make these changes in view of their earlier insistence that the height and intensity was absolutely necessary to control the spill of light and to be bright enough for television. At 130 feet or about 14 stories high, they still will not exactly blend in with the surroundings. They have still failed to offer any solutions to the numerous problems the proposal would cause in the surrounding areas.

When your home environment and quality of life is threatened you naturally look around for means to protect then. While doing this you can sometimes come up with facts that are new to yourself. Facts that can sometimes be scary and you nearly wish you never learnt of them. That is the situation we find ourselves in after coming across reports on studies on the affect of lighting at night time on several medical conditions including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, depression, when puberty begins and a number of cancers, particularly breast cancer in women.

Humans evolved without electric light over thousands of generations. The body is designed to be awake and alert during daytime hours and to sleep at night. Our 24-7 society is out of harmony with our biological design.

That design is the circadian system - internal rhythms that repeat roughly every 24 hours. The sleep/waking cycle is the rhythm we’re most familiar with, but the body is constantly adjusting its internal machinery to the ebb and flow of hormones, the rise and fall of body temperature, and other subtle rhythms – to mesh with the 24-hour solar day. Monitoring and directing this is the brain’s master clock, the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN).

When wavelengths of light hit the photoreceptors in the back of the eye, signals are sent to the SCN. The SCN resets itself daily by tracking the strength of the signals. Weaker ones at night, when it is dark trigger the release of melatonin from the Pinal gland in the brain.

Melatonin slows body functions and lowers blood pressure and so lowers body temperature. Conversely, a strong light signal during the day reverses the process; other hormones are released, raising blood pressure and core body temperature, as melatonin production declines.

Cells throughout the body, including cancer cells, have melatonin receptors, and when melatonin makes its nightly rounds, cell division slows, putting cancer cells to sleep. When the melatonin disappears the cancer cells wake up again.

Two hours of bright light can knock down melatonin to daytime levels. Short light wavelengths, such as those at the blue end of the spectrum, (found in fluorescent and halogen lights), suppress melatonin the most. Guess what type are proposed for Pearse Stadium.

The more intense the night-time light, the stronger it suppresses the melatonin synthesis. Some people are more sensitive to night-time illumination’s action than others, for example, women are generally more sensitive than men.

This explains why people who work night shifts are more likely to suffer from breast, large intestine or rectal cancers, why cancer is most prevalent in industrialized regions of the world, and why decreased instances of breast cancer are found in blind women.

In addition, irregular light can cause sleep disturbance, gastronomical and cardiovascular diseases, metabolic derangements and, possibly increase the likelihood of developing diabetes.

The heath repercussions of the cancer lights are so much more serious than we previously realized. The same approach should be taken to it as with smoking. If you want to risk damage to your health by smoking that is your concern, but you have no right to expose others to the risks from passive smoking.
In regard to this particular application for floodlights in Pearse Stadium, where they want to put the lights within a few metres of the neighbouring houses, it should be borne in mind that young children will normally go to bed earlier than most adults.







Further information on Light Pollution and Your Health
Artificial home lighting may increase breast cancer rates
Exposure to frequent artificial light at night appears to increase the breast cancer risk among women in their homes, according to an analysis by a Long Island researcher.
Study: Light at Night is Dangerous to Health
Night life under electric lighting may cause serious behavioral disorders and physical diseases including cancer, according to a specialist team led by Professor N.N. Pertov Scientific Research Institute of Oncology, Russian Ministry of Healthcare
Light 'risk' to premature babies
Constant exposure to artificial hospital lighting may damage the development of premature babies' biological clocks, research suggests. (ed: yet another example of how little we really know about light)
Ocular Input for Human Melatonin Regulation:Relevance to Breast Cancer
The impact of breast cancer on women across the world has been extensive and severe. As prevalence of breast cancer is greatest in industrialized regions, exposure to light at night has been proposed as a potential risk factor. This theory is supported by the epidemiological observations of decreased breast cancer in blind women and increased breast cancer in women who do shift-work.
Bright Lights, Big Cancer
Another article, this time in Science News, discusses the growing link between night time illumination... and certain forms of cancer. "Light at night is now clearly a risk factor for breast cancer," David E. Blask of the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, N.Y says. "Breast tumors are awake during the day, and melatonin puts them to sleep at night." Add artificial light to the night environment, and "cancer cells become insomniacs"
The Light-Cancer Connection
Exposure to light at night appears to raise the risk of several types of cancer... Simply put, light at night snuffs out one of the body's most powerful anticancer crusaders, a hormone called melatonin.
Light pollution as a risk factor for breast cancer: a GIS-assisted case study
A positive association was found between night light intensity measured by satellite and breast cancer rates in towns.Abnormally high cancer rates were found along the 'seam lines' where extensive intense security lighting is in use. Abnormally low cancer incidence rates were found in low-income areas where outdoor and indoor artificial illumination is dimmer than elsewhere for economic reasons. For these two groups combined, the rate of breast cancer incidence was highly correlated with in-situ measures of illuminance at night.
Melatonin-Depleted Blood from Premenopausal Women Exposed to Light at Night Stimulates Growth of Human Breast Cancer
The increased breast cancer risk in female night shift workers has been postulated to result from the suppression of pineal melatonin production by exposure to light at night. Exposure of rats bearing rat hepatomas or human breast cancer xenografts to increasing intensities of white fluorescent light during each 12-hour dark phase (0-345 µW/cm2) resulted in a dose-dependent suppression of nocturnal melatonin blood levels and a stimulation of tumor growth
American Association for Cancer Research
"These results are the first to show that the tumor growth response to exposure to light during darkness is intensity dependent and that the human nocturnal, circadian melatonin signal not only inhibits human breast cancer growth but that this effect is extinguished by short-term ocular exposure to bright, white light at night."
Night-shift women face cancer risk
Women who work night shifts are more likely to get breast cancer... due to suppressed melatonin production... from exposure to light at night.





Rockbarton Residents Highlight Stadium Concerns - 14/2/08

Dear Editor,

We would like to reply to the letter headed “Stadium objectors should reconsider” from Mr. Ronnie O’Gorman, Chairperson of Galway City Business Association, in last Friday’s City Tribune.

It will be clear to anyone up to date with this that either Mr O’Gorman has made his comments without ensuring he was fully informed or has chosen to gloss over the facts and present a “spin” version to suit his case.

He states that “even the most neutral believer could find it difficult to accept that the installation of floodlights would detract, from their privacy” Anyone that has experienced what the local residents have experienced would not be neutral on this matter. For that matter neither are the people Mr O’Gorman represents. They too have their own agenda. Other parties have previously falsely suggested that it was just fear of the unknown that caused the residents to object to the lights. But we have endured several weeks of live experience of the lights while the GAA set up the lights for the Australian compromise rules game.

He states that “typically, night time GAA matches would be completed by 9pm – which would not normally have any detrimental effect to local residents.” This ignores the time before and after the actually playing time to allow for crowd arrival and departure, set up and dismantling of camera equipment, or allowances for extra time. More importantly it ignores the fact that for some of us the Stadium is effectively in our back gardens and young children or people working shift work would have their sleep affected. While it can be great fun at a loud and active party, your view on the same party is total altered if you are trying to sleep next door. We have already experienced the “detrimental effect” and I can assure you that it is very real

Mr O Gorman then poses the question, “Can anyone remember a serious incident before or after a game on days when the Stadium hosted full capacity crowds? What exactly has that got to do with it? Except perhaps that the traffic congestion could impede emergency services if someone in the area did need urgent assistance.

The letter goes on to say “the Gardaí to-date do an excellent job in controlling traffic, access for residents and ensuring that the crowds arrive and depart safely and quickly.” While we appreciate that the Gardaí generally try to do their best, their success levels are hit and miss. Residents are still blocked from accessing or leaving their properties with their cars, find the spaces where they normally park themselves taken, and occasionally take abuse from a minority of GAA fans who think the rules should not apply to them. Hawkers leave litter and make noise with air horns. Some residents have had to put in extra fencing to protect their property and not everybody is comfortable with having strangers knocking on their doors asking to use the toliet.

Mr O Gorman then continues “As a business Association, we ask that the objectors to this upgrade of our beautiful Stadium reconsider their position”. These “objectors” are the local residents. The area in which the Pearse Stadium is situated is in the middle of our residential area, our home. We in turn would as a residents association ask Mr O Gorman and his Association to reconsider their position, to stop expecting us to take the abuse and loss, and recognise that we are entitled to live a peaceful existence in our own homes. This is the reason some areas are zoned for residential purposes and some are zoned for commercial. Nor does the back of the Stadium stand look so beautiful from the bedroom windows of the houses in Rockbarton Green. If Mr O Gorman or members of his association has any doubts on this score we would be glad to arrange a tour for them.

Your readers can find more information at http://www.pearsestadium.blogspot.com/

They might also consider the following questions. We have kept them simple; with just yes or no answers as rigorous investigation of the facts is not everyone’s strong point?

Should we trust a group that has lied and broken promises in the past?

Should we contemplate trying to reach new agreements with a group who can justify previous broken promises on loss of memory or on the fact that it was different people that were on a committee at the time the promise was given?

Should we believe that a group with a long history of breeching and ignoring planning conditions in connection with Pearse Stadium will change their old habits?

Is it acceptable that they still remain in breech of some of these conditions?

Is it acceptable that the local authority has not issued and implemented enforcement orders for these breeches?

Should we accept being blocked in or out of our homes due to lack of adequate parking for events in the Stadium?

Should we have to suffer being stuck in traffic outside our homes?

Should we risk emergency services such as fire brigade not being able to gain access?

Should we have to tolerate litter on and adjacent our property?

Is it acceptable that the Gardai or local authority do not issue on the spot fines for littering on match days?

Should we have to endure air horns being blown outside our homes?

Should we have to tolerate the noise of electricity generators?

Should we have to take abuse from the minority of GAA fans who engage in being abusive?

Should we have to listen to the public address system at night?

Should certain members of the business community expect the residents to bear all the pain and loss while those who think they have something to gain make no contribution?

Should we be expected to allow massive advertising hoardings in front of our homes?

Is it acceptable that the GAA continue to solicit sponsorship for signs on a massive hoarding in front of the homes on Rockbarton Road despite the City Council’s planning department having rejected planning permission for this monstrosity?

Is it acceptable that the GAA would hold events in Pearse Stadium and totally wash their hands of any responsibility for helping deal with the problems arising?

Is it acceptable that proper and sustainable planning of the area be ignored to facilitate vested interests?

Should we accept devaluation and degradation of our homes and living environment?

Should we ignore the City development plan to suit vested interests?

Is it acceptable that anyone would try to erect four giant pylons whose technical specifications state that they can only withstand maximum wind speeds of 116 miles per hour when Met Eireann have recorded speeds of 125 miles per hour?

Is it acceptable that such pylons would be erected so close to existing homes and schools that should a part of the structure fall off it could result in fatal consequences?

Is it acceptable that the GAA would give guidelines in their official handbook on best practice in order to comply with planning conditions and then try to do the exact opposite in Pearse Stadium?

Is it acceptable that someone with no means other than the old age pension or who is unemployed has to pay every time they want to voice an opinion on a planning application that could have a major impact on their lives while a multi millions organisation can submit as many applications as they like without any cost because they were allowed register as a charity?

Is it acceptable that TV cameras be mounted opposite peoples’ bedroom windows?

Should we have to tolerate the smell and noise from fast food trucks?

Let the one who can honestly answer yes to the above questions put in the next planning application.



Yours Sincerely,
Noel Molloy.

Rockbarton Road and Rockbarton Green Residents.

Brand New Year, Same Old Greed. - 7/1/08

We read in the pre-Christmas edition of the City Tribune that former chairman of Galway GAA County Board, Frank Burke, told the board’s convention that “the GAA had run into difficulties with local residents” over their plans to erect permanent flood-lights at Pearse Stadium. The local residents are saddened but not surprised to read of the GAA’s determination to put the lights in place despite all the objections, and all the problems it would cause the people living in the area.

Nor are we surprised at his efforts to white wash over our concerns with his comment that “We have tried to respond to their concerns (the residents) by reducing height and levels, while meeting our own (the GAA’s) needs going forward.” Past experience has led us to expect nothing else. In the unlikely event that the GAA have actually forgotten what our concerns are we would be glad to meet with them and remind them. But to date the GAA do not do meetings with local residents.

“Mr. Burke also paid tribute to the behaviour of GAA supporters, who ensured that “ugly” fencing did not have to be put in place in front of the main stand.” This just goes to prove that there are some things that the GAA and local residents can agree on. It is such a pity that the good behaviour of the ordinary supporter is not replicated by the upper echelons of the association. They did not want a fence in front of the stand, and rightly so. But they had no problem with attempting to put massive hoardings that would dwarf any such fence directly in front of the homes along Rockbarton Road.

The GAA denies any responsibility for anything that happens outside the grounds. They wash there hands of any duty of care to the residents during events in Pearse Stadium. They are not the only ones who fall down in this regard. The activities of hawkers are not properly controlled. Some residents have felt the need to add extra fencing around their properties to protect them from trespass and dumping of rubbish. Some do not want to fence in their properties but have to erect temporary fencing on match days.

In this matter as in other current debates within the GAA we continue to see the signs of a split personality between the community based Gaelic Athletic Association of which we can all be proud or the Greedy Athletic Association where the motivating factor comes down to money.

As we enter a brand new year we still have to contend with the same old greed.


Pearse Stadium Update: Tactical Retreat or Abuse of Process? 19/11/07

The due date for the decision by the City Council on the application for floodlighting at Pearse Stadium has passed without a formal decision being announced. All those who paid their money, so that they could exercise their right to express their opinion on what should be allowed in the area where they live, should by now have received the registered letter informing them that the GAA have withdrawn their application.

Some may see this action by the GAA as a legitimate tactical retreat when they knew that their application would be refused. Others may see it as an abuse of the planning process in which the planning authority has being cheated of the opportunity to formally reject the application and state their reasons in a transparent manner. The local people have being denied a formal vindication of their stance.

We believe from recent comments in the local press, attributed to the chairman of the Pearse Stadium Development Committee, Frank Burke that they may resubmit an altered plan for floodlights. They can dress it up anyway they like but any resubmission of a plan to erect massive pylons with lights to allow games at night would be just resubmitting what would be materially the same plan. Logic would dictate that any such resubmission should be refused on the same grounds as the current version would have been if it had not being withdrawn.

The plan for Pearse Stadium has being rejected by local residents, by An Taisce, and was due to be rejected by the City Planners. All a resubmission will achieve is further stress and expense to local people. This is no way to treat your neighbours.

We now call on the GAA to accept the decisions of the local residents, An Taisce and the City planners and to announce that they have no further intentions to continue with this project.


GAA deny pulling plug on Pearse Stadium floodlights – questions arising

There are some interesting points to be made and questions to be answered following on John Fallon’s article titled “GAA deny pulling plug on Pearse Stadium floodlights” in last week’s edition (October 10th) of the Galway Independent.

The speculation that the floodlights might be installed in either Tuam Stadium or Duggan Park in Ballinasloe raises the question of considering an alternative venue. There would be much sense in this approach. Any site considered for such a proposal should at a minimum have easy access and egress without causing traffic disruption, congestion of footpaths, potential blocking of emergency services and restriction of access to residents’ homes. It should be far enough from residential areas to avoid the problems of light and noise pollution interfering with local residents. It should have sufficient parking to cater for maximum capacity crowds. It should allow for a safe distance between masts and surrounding buildings like houses or schools. It should be compatible with relevant city or county development plans. This is the exact opposite to the situation at Pearse Stadium.

We are told that Oyster Homes has purchased a site, along where the new Galway Dublin road is to run between Craughwell and Athenry, with the intention of doing a land swap with the GAA. How well would this green field site meet the proposal’s requirements?

The plan for Pearse Stadium has being opposed by local residents and An Taisce. The fact that the chairman of the Pearse Stadium Development Committee, Frank Burke, has now conceded that it may be necessary to withdraw their current application and resubmit an altered plan for floodlights shows that they expect the City Planners to reject it also. They can dress it up anyway they like but any resubmission of a plan to erect four massive pylons with lights to allow games at night would be just resubmitting what would be materially the same plan.

As to the concerns of residents he says they wish to address, will this involve engaging with the residents and having face to face discussions with them and if so when?

As for the advertising hoarding they wanted to put in front of the houses on Rockbarton Road and for which permission was refused, how come they are still soliciting sponsors for this on their website?





Parking and Traffic Circulation - 1/10/07

The Galway City Council Development Plan 2005-2011 includes as one of its four strategic goals “providing for a built and natural environment that is of high quality and that contributes to providing a good quality of life for residents and visitors.” In section 11.2 on Land Use Zoning it states that “In the boundary areas adjoining zones it is necessary to avoid developments which would be detrimental to the amenities of the more environmentally sensitive zones. For instance, in areas abutting residential zones a particular proposal may not be acceptable which could be acceptable in other parts of the zone. Where a site for a proposed development straddles the boundary of different land use zones the permitted density on the overall site will be an average between the different zones subject to residential amenity”.

It further enforces this when it states that the zoning objective for residential and low density residential zones is to provide for residential development which will ensure the protection of existing residential amenity and will contribute to sustainable residential neighbourhoods. The current application conflicts with this on several grounds.

Parking and Traffic Circulation is an important component of any overall plan to protect this amenity and sustainable development. The existing parking plan for events in Pearse Stadium is deficient and it is based on misinformation. The venue could hold a crowd of 34,000 people but the surrounding area has only got adequate space for residential parking. The last traffic management plan seen by residents presumes the availability of parking in school grounds and the racecourse six miles away and a park and ride service from there. It assumes the availability of 500 non existent parking spaces at The Prairie. It lists parking spaces along the Prom in Salthill that are usually already filled on any ordinary evening when nothing special is on in the area. It expects people to park along the side of the road all the way out to the Barna Silver Strand junction and to walk in from there and back again afterwards in the dark. It does not indicate where residents are to park.

The conditions imposed to provide satisfactory car parking arrangements when permission was granted for the existing Stand (planning register reference number 541/94) required that 500 spaces be available at Arus Bothar na Tra. Thirty spaces would be closer to the reality. It also required that additional facilities for up to 1500 cars proposed at Colaiste Einde grounds shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities at the Arus are inadequate. There is no guarantee that the relevant board of management would be prepared to allow this even if the space existed. These conditions were laid down thirteen years ago, when there were a lot fewer cars on the roads, in the interests of road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity. They still have not being complied with.

Even on their own web site on the page headed “Pearse Stadium Venue Information” under the topic “Parking” their entry reads “Very limited parking available within the vicinity of Pearse Stadium. Many roads close to Pearse Stadium have restricted access and are under garda control.” It is indeed true to say that there is very limited parking around Pearse Stadium, but the garda control is hit and miss. Again, last Sunday (September 23rd) some resident’s driveways were blocked by the cars of patrons at the games in the Stadium. The gardai had put out no parking bollards on one side of Rockbarton Road but these were ignored. While being blocked from entering or exiting your driveway is an annoyance, the real fear is that is that some day their will be a hold up in an emergency situation. Cars parked on the footpaths each side of the road between Rockbarton Road and Ardnamara forced pedestrians, including some with prams, and wheelchair users off the path and on to the middle of the road. This is now the “normal” situation during match times. The previous week a woman parked directly in front of the gateway of one resident. He politely asked her to move her car either a few feet forward or backward so as not to block the gateway. She not so politely told him to “fuck off for your self.” The poor man was so startled he did not think to take her number and report her.

There has being lately an intensification of usage in the Stadium and incidents like these are causing residents patience and tolerance to wear thin. The further intensification of use proposed by the planning application for flood lighting in Pearse Stadium would have a negative impact on the quality of life of local people. It would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road users and pedestrians and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.





Throwing further light on the situation

In their spin on their application for flood lighting in Pearse Stadium, The GAA has set out to mislead the public. They claim that by virtue of using extremely high masts they can better control the “spill” of light into adjoining areas. They say it will be greatly reduced from the situation experienced by locals while they experimented with lighting for the International Rules game against Australia. That much might be true.

But then the deviousness and deception begins. The first gambit was to try and sneak the application through without the locals knowing about it. They almost succeeded.

With the lights used for the Australian game the light spill extended all the way to the edge of Galway bay, lighting up the whole Prom., and all within a similar radius of Pearse Stadium. Improving on this is no good to people within the zone still affected.

The guidelines of the Institute of Lighting Engineers state that in urbane areas vertical illuminance through windows should not exceed 10 Lux, and in city centre areas it should not exceed 25 Lux.

Telling someone that the new bigger lights are improved and better controlled because they do not dump light spill in Galway Bay is no consolation if they are still getting 187 Lux as the applicant’s drawings show for homes in the south side of Dr. Mannix Road at Na Cuilini, or 75 Lux in homes in Rockbarton Road, or even “only” 56 Lux in Bothar Micheal O’Uigin (Rockbarton Court).

The bulky file of submissions on this application in the planning office makes for interesting reading. One couple says that their three young children are used to going to bed at a reasonable time each evening. They claim that these children have a right to be able to continue to do so without their sleep being disturbed. What do you think? One thing is sure, the members of the County Board or perhaps it would be fairer to say the puppet masters in Croke Park will not have their sleep disturbed.

An Taisce Backs Local People

In An Taisce’s submission on the application for floodlighting in Pearse Stadium, Mr. Derrick Hambleton says “An Taisce have previously avoided making comment on planning applications affecting Pearse Stadium, since it was not felt that these applications had any significant effect on heritage, or raised any serious environmental issues. However, this application could certainly be said to have the potential to affect the quality of life of many of the residents living within the local ambit of Pearse Stadium. Therefore, we would wish to have it recorded, that we support those residents who had some serious concerns and by their own objections have made these concerns known to Galway City council.”

An Taisce say “the height of masts are obtrusive on the skyline and would represent a visual blot on the Salthill horizon.” They further say “the residents have alluded to their own fears for safety and the integrity of the masts in high winds. The masts are clearly to be constructed close enough to existing houses in the area that, should the unthinkable occur, there is a strong possibility of serious damage being done, even if it were only to be a stray part of the structure which fell off and not the failure of the whole mast”.

An Taisce further point out that “it is also clear from the application that there is sufficient evidence to indicate a substantial usage of the Stadium with “flood light events” likely to increase in frequency over time, thus leading to a greater level of inconvenience and disturbance to residents in surrounding streets, who already put up with considerable inconvenience”.

An Taisce then suggests that the GAA find an alternative site for their proposals. An Taisce further objects to the application for signage along Rockbarton Road , (which the City Council have now refused), as “unacceptable visual clutter”.

Rockbarton residents call on GAA to accept sign refusal decision


Avril Horan Galway Independent 15/8/07

The residents of Rockbarton Road in Salthill have appealed to the GAA to accept city planners' decision to block plans for a large sign at Pearse Stadium. City planners have turned down the application for the controversial sign, which would have run the length of the Rockbarton Road Terrace.Residents strongly objected to the proposed sign, which would have been one meter deep and 80 meters in length. They said the sign would "obliterate all evening light, would severely impact the aesthetics and visual amenity of the area, and would devalue property in Rockbarton Road". City planners have agreed with the residents concerns and refused the application. Noel Molloy of the Rockbarton Road Residents has now called upon the GAA to accept the decision and not take it any further by lodging an appeal."As the local authority and the residents have reached the same conclusion that the proposal is not in keeping with the area we believe the GAA should accept this. We also believe it appropriate that they no longer solicit invitations to sponsor these signs through their website or elsewhere," he said. The Rockbarton Road residents have been fighting a long battle to maintain their living conditions in the area. They have argued that proposed developments at Pearse Stadium, including another application for floodlight masts, shows "a total lack of respect or acknowledgement of the needs of the residents and are generally injurious to our quality of life". City planners ruled the controversial sign would be contrary to proper planning and development. In refusing the application, they agreed that it would be a "visually obtrusive feature, which would be out of character with and seriously detract from the visual amenities of the area". They said it would go-against the City Development Plan and would conflict with conditions already set down restricting the height of the terrace.The planning conditions already set out for Pearse Stadium stated that:'The upper level of the proposed terrace (exclusive of safety fence) on the eastern end of the pitch shall not exceed 1m in height over the adjoining site boundary wall'. The application for the sign on top of the Rockbarton Road Terrace was designed to be 2.7m to the underside of the sign and 3.7m to the top of sign - far in excess of the conditions set out in the original plans. As a result, city planners have rejected the plans for the sign. Residents in the area will have to wait to see if the refusal will be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Report on Pearse Stadium Information Evening of November 29th, 2012

The battle lines are being redrawn again as the GAA County Board prepares to submit yet another planning application for floodlighting to allow night time activity at Pearse Stadium. Previous attempts have floundered when false information or forged documents or signatures included in the GAA's submissions to the planning office were publicly exposed. This time round they have cleared house so to speak, with new members on the County Board and Pearse Stadium committee. They have drafted in the politicians with Councillor Donal Lyons on the Pearse Stadium Committee and former Fianna Fail Deputy Noel Tracy as secretary of the County Board. On Thursday November 29th the GAA held an "information evening" on which we would like to clarify a few points. People reading brief press reports that the GAA met with councillors and local residents may be misled into thinking that councillors and residents met with the GAA at the same time. In fact the meeting with the councillors was separate and in secrete before the meeting with the residents. In the main the local residents did not attend as past experience caused them to have little faith in anything the County Board or its committees might say in relation to Pearse Stadium. Instead they had their representatives go along to hear what was said and report back. In summary the report is that the GAA are to submit another application for floodlights at Pearse Stadium. Based on the information given it is the same application as before except that the four masts for flood lights of the earlier applications are replaced by five of lower height in the next application. Despite claims to the contrary no other issues were addressed in any meaningful way. The traffic management plan is the same discredited one that has being resubmitted again and again since 1994, and in which they claim to have secured thousands of parking spaces on the playing fields of St. Enda's and St. Mary's colleges, as well as at the golf club. Photographs of all the information sheets they had on display can be found at http://pearsestadium.wordpress.com/information-evening-29112012/. We have no doubt that the principle purpose of the "information evening" was to conduct a box ticking exercise so that they could say they had consulted with local residents when it comes to submitting the application, regardless of the quality of that communication. On receiving notification of the "information evening" the local residents requested that rather than having people come in dribs and drabs, that the format be modified to include a formal presentation from the GAA and their experts of what they have in mind at a fixed time say 7 to 8pm at which the assembled residents, the GAA and their consultants could ask and answer questions of one-another. This should have presented no problem as their people were to be in place from 5 to 8pm anyway. However the request was declined. And while they would agree to a meeting at another time, they would only meet with a maximum of six representatives of the residents. Apparently the last thing they want is for the residents all to meet together and be in a position to put questions in a public assembly. So much for their democratic ideals. The GAA, its County Board or Pearse Stadium committee have never apologised for their misdeeds. The best they could do under pressure from residents is concede that some things might not always have being done properly in the past but that they will behave themselves from now on. However there remains a big gap between what they say and how they act. They have not published any report on their internal investigation on the matter of the forged garda signature. For that matter neither has the City Council. Old habits die hard and breeches of planning laws continue under the new County Board and Pearse Stadium committee as they did with the old. Following complaints from locals the City Council issued an enforcement order to halt work earlier this year on unauthorised construction. However that is as far as it went. The local authority seems to still be as impotent as ever in dealing with planning issues at Pearse Stadium. The GAA just ignored the order and continued work until they were finished. After which the the local authority then lifted the order and took no action what ever against those breaking the law. Some things just never seem to change. As this occurred under the tenure of the present County Board and Pearse Stadium committee it seems only the names and faces have changed, the practices and habits have not. As in the past the local residents depend on an informed public to see that justice is done and to reign in the worst excesses in dealings concerning planning matters at Pearse Stadium. Feel free to subscribe to our mailing list to be kept up to date on the goings on. If any members of the public wish to send us information they can do so by emailing us at salthillresidents@gmail.com.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Rockbarton Road Residents submission to Galway Corporation

Reference: File number 07404 (Status: decision extended to 18/11/07)

We, the residents of Rockbarton Road, strongly object to the planning application from Galway GAA County Board for Pearse Stadium, for the erection of four floodlight masts 56 metres high (over 183 feet) with associated floodlights and control gear.

People living in the vicinity are concerned as to the levels of pedestrian and motor activity that would be generated at night in what is currently a quite residential area, the levels of light pollution and the hours to which it might extend.

A second application, which we also object to, seeks permission for the erection of signage on top of the Rockbarton Road terrace. It would run the full length of the terrace extending 16 feet above the existing wall and blocking out sunlight. We believe that these are just the first of a series of applications.
Putting things in context
To put the proposals in context one needs to consider the layout of the Pearse Stadium and its intimate contact with the surrounding houses. Some houses share a common boundary with it. The area surrounding the Stadium is a quite, peaceful, mature residential area with a predominantly elderly population. It also has several families with young children. The residents are prepared to live with some inconvenience on daytime match days for a few hours. We accept that some traffic congestion around the four schools in the immediate area is for the most part unavoidable. We accept that there will be overflow from the commercial centre of Salthill from time to time. We accept that traffic from events in Leisureland will sometimes spill over into the adjoining streets. But this is in a different league altogether.

This proposal involves the totally inappropriate intensification of use and a change from day time to night time use in what is effectively a quite, mature, residential area which can not meet the requirements for parking and traffic movements. It would place unreasonable restrictions on residents in the area until the crowds disperses after each match. It is intended to hold 38 nighttime matches a year. It would lead to noise and light pollution, disturb sleep patterns and cause much anxiety to local people. It would also contravene the guidelines given in the GAA’s own club handbook and in the City development plan.

The Official GAA Guidelines
The official GAA website contains a club manual. In the section on planning it states that “There are a number of potential impacts accruing from grounds and facilities development which may raise cause for concern and ultimately comprise reasons for refusing planning permission. The main issues are summarised below as follows:

Issue Development
Light Pollution Floodlighting of car parking, pitch or training area
Noise and disturbance Generated generally by people participating in activities
(i.e.) matches, training; spectating particularly during
matches; large social gatherings (i.e.) club function; by
equipment such as generators, refrigeration units and
finally by servicing.
Visual Impact Unacceptable visual impact of structures including
Floodlighting, stands, indoor facilities and clubhouses in
visually sensitive areas.
Hazard to road safety Inadequate, dangerous or excessive traffic movements to
and from a facility. ”


All of these issues and more arise with this application to an extent that would seriously degrade the quality of life of the local residents.

The same document under the heading “Best Practise – General Location and Siting” states that “New facilities likely to generate significant traffic and noise particularly in the evening, should not be located in residentially sensitive areas.

It goes on “New facilities especially where floodlighting is proposed (or there is a prospect of it being proposed) should not be located in visually prominent areas”.
It further makes the points that “Parking should not be located where it will interrupt the free flow of traffic”.

“Sufficient parking should be provided to discourage on street parking, especially in residential areas”

With regard to floodlighting, “Lighting should be designed to avoid lighting overspill into surrounding areas particularly in sensitive residential areas” and “clubs should consider the height and location of proposed structures in relation to the surrounding residential properties”.

How big is it?
The surrounding residential one and two story properties would be dwarfed by the four giant masts each the height of a twenty story building and having an attachment on top it bigger than the size of the gable end of the neighbouring houses. Each of these masts can be visualised as a half size version of the Spire in Dublin’s O’Connell Street with the massive light fixtures stuck on top. Stuck on the four corners of the Pearse Stadium they would actually be closer to the people in neighbouring houses that some of the spectators at a match. They are so high that the Aviation Authority will have to check what danger they might present to aircraft. To contemplate allowing these would make a mockery of height restrictions which were attached to previous applications for good reasons.

How safe is it?
These masts are supposed to be able to withstand wind speeds of 52m per second (116 miles per hour) but according to Met Eireann wind speeds of 125 mph have being recorded in Ireland. The proposed attachments on top of each mast to hold the lights would measure 7.5m by 6.6 metres. These would act like sails to catch the wind and should winds approaching some of those already recorded occur, it does not bear thinking about. Is it only the mast that is rated to withstand wind speeds of 116 mph? I imagine that the attachment at the top could not, and that even the mast could not if the attachment was catching severe winds at a height of 56m. The west and northwest of Ireland and Scotland have the highest winds in Europe.

The Health and Safety issues do not end there.

Light pollution causes night time vision to be impaired which can be dangerous to motorists and pedestrians as well as causing damage and confusion to flora and fauna. Light pollution can also remove an individual’s privacy, cause sleep disturbance, wastes energy and has even been linked with health problems.

Glare is the result of excessive contrast between bright and dark areas in the field of view. Light shining into the eyes of pedestrians or motorists can obscure night vision for up to an hour after exposure. Caused by high contrast between light and dark areas, glare can also make it difficult for the human eye to adjust to the differences in brightness. Glare is particularly an issue in road safety, as bright and/or badly shielded lights around roads may partially blind drivers or pedestrians unexpectedly, and contribute to accidents.
It particularly affects the elderly.

Light trespass on bedrooms would not be the only stress factor invading our homes.
Noise pollution from transport, generators, low frequency vibrations from trucks and buses, or nuisance noise from spectators, service vehicles and public address systems would all assail us. These are even less acceptable at night than during the day. During the Australian rules game the noise caused by spectators banging the advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch was terrible. The air horns both inside and outside the stadium are even worse.

An Bord Pleanala laid down the condition that the Galway Bay Hotel had to ensure that “activities carried out therein shall not make or cause to be made any noise or vibration which is so loud, so continuous or so repeated or of such duration of pitch or at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in any premises in the neighbourhood or to persons lawfully using any public place”. Its reason; to prevent annoyance by reason of noise to occupants of nearby premises and to safeguard the amenities of the area. Proper planning would require the same conditions be attached to any development in or adjoining this residential area. The present application is in conflict with such requirements and so should be refused.


We take comfort in the existence of the Galway City Council Development Plan 2005-2011 which includes as one of its four strategic goals “providing for a built and natural environment that is of high quality and that contributes to providing a good quality of life for residents and visitors.” In section 11.2 on Land Use Zoning it states that “In the boundary areas adjoining zones it is necessary to avoid developments which would be detrimental to the amenities of the more environmentally sensitive zones. For instance, in areas abutting residential zones a particular proposal may not be acceptable which could be acceptable in other parts of the zone. Where a site for a proposed development straddles the boundary of different land use zones the permitted density on the overall site will be an average between the different zones subject to residential amenity”.

It further enforces this comfort when it states that the zoning objective for residential and low density residential zones is to provide for residential development which will ensure the protection of existing residential amenity and will contribute to sustainable residential neighbourhoods. The current application conflicts with this.

Parking and Traffic Circulation
The existing parking plan for matches is deficient and it is based on misinformation. The venue could hold a crowd of over 30,000 people but the surrounding area has only got adequate space for residential parking. The last traffic management plan seen by residents presumes the availability of parking in school grounds and the racecourse six miles away and a park and ride service from there. It assumes the availability of 500 non existent parking spaces at The Prairie. It lists parking spaces along the Prom in Salthill that are usually already filled on any ordinary evening when nothing special is on in the area. It expects people to park along the side of the road all the way out to the Barna Silver Strand junction and to walk in from there and back again afterwards in the dark. It does not indicate where residents are to park.

The conditions imposed to provide satisfactory car parking arrangements when permission was granted for the current stand (planning register reference number 541/94) required that 500 spaces be available at Arus Bothar na Tra. Thirty spaces would be closer to the reality. It also required that additional facilities for up to 1500 cars proposed at Colaiste Einde grounds shall be available for events where it is anticipated that the facilities at the Arus are inadequate. There is no guarantee that the relevant boards of management are prepared to allow this even if the space exists. These conditions were laid down thirteen years ago, when there were a lot fewer cars on the roads, in the interests of road safety, traffic circulation and residential amenity. (See appendix 1). They still have not being complied with.

The proposed development would, therefore, endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road users and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.


Waste Management
Despite a more than adequate supply of bins by Galway Corporation there is always a terrible amount of litter all over the place after games. Would this be swept up after the games at night or the following morning? If done at night there would be the noise of road sweepers and if left till the next day an increased likelihood of attracting vermin.

A Dirty big sign
A second application is for permission to erect signage along the full length of the Rockbarton Road terrace. It would extend about sixteen feet above the existing boundary wall which is already about ten feet high. How would you like to be looking out your front window with this directly in front of you? Not much chance of seeing the sun staring back at you. This shows a total disregard for the residents.

Property Values
Property values in a given residential area are a measure of the desirability of living in that area, which in turn is a measure of its amenity value. The loss of amenity which would result if this proposal was allowed would be reflected in depreciation in property values.

No Environmental Impact Assessment
No Environmental Impact Assessment is included with the application. Is there still a population of Irish hares (a protected species) in the stadium? We used to see scores of them nibbling away on the pitch when we would look out the windows of Saint Enda’s national school.

Watch the sun go down on Galway Bay
One of the attractions for tourists and locals alike is to “watch the sun go down on Galway Bay”. In fine weather crowds watch and photograph the beautiful red sunsets made famous the world over by Bing Crosby’s song. Later in the summer the sun is actually seen as setting over land if viewed from Salthill. The proposed masts would damage this world famous visual amenity.

Previous Form
The GAA’s record in regard to adherence to conditions attached to previous planning applications for Pearse Stadium is not exactly squeaky clean. In my own view, repeat offenders in the planning process should have onerous terms attached for non-compliance with any future permission that might be granted. Otherwise the planning process becomes a joke.

A quick search of the Planning Office’s database threw up nine previous applications for Pearse Statium for the last few years of which seven were for retention of works that did not comply with grants of permission. Other conditions such as the one mentioned above for parking spaces have never being complied with. This also raises questions on the quality and level of checking for compliance and of enforcement by the local authority.

Split personality of a great Association
In general we have great admiration for the GAA and many of us are members. But we are concerned at the tendency to slip from one personality to another, from Gaelic Athletic Association with a proud history of voluntary, democratic community involvement and development to Grab All Association which pushes an agenda of maximum profit at the expense of local communities. Rather than the open communication and discussion with a local community that one might expect from an organisation with such a proud history we have in this case an attempt to sneak applications through the planning process before the local community becomes aware of them. While the letter of the law might be observed the spirit certainly has not. We look to the planning officials of Galway Corporation to protect our rights.

In conclusion
The residents oppose these applications as inappropriate to the location, out of scale and character with, and damaging to residential amenity in terms of light, noise, intensity and timing of use, inadequacy of traffic flow and management, lack of parking, health and safety concerns, conflict with previous planning conditions and general disruption and injury to our quality of life. All of which would be reflected negatively in property prices. For all the above reasons the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and should be refused.






Reference: File number 07438 (Status: refused)

We, the residents of Rockbarton Road, strongly object to the above application seeking permission to erect signage on top of the Rockbarton Road Terrace. The existing wall is high enough and still does not meet the requirements laid down in previous conditions with regard to its finish.

This signage would obliterate all evening light which presently shines into the gardens and windows along Rockbarton Road. It would also severely and adversely impact the aesthetics and visual amenity of the area and would devalue the property in Rockbarton Road. It would conflict with conditions previously laid down restricting the height of the Terrace.

The proposed developments – floodlight masts and signage – show a total lack of respect for or acknowledgement of the needs of the residents.

The residents oppose this application as inappropriate to the location, damaging to residential amenity in terms of light and visual impact, in conflict with previous planning conditions and generally injurious to our quality of life. For all the above reasons the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area and should be refused.