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November 22nd 2006

Locals worry that view of bay and islands will be obstructed by sewerage pumping station

Our sewerage scheme is proceeding apace - indeed according to a spokesperson for the main contractor involved, it is well ahead of schedule. But one aspect of the work is causing concern to locals and visitors who love the bay area. Last week as the new pump house started to take shape, it became apparent that the structure will project substantially over the pier, potentially obstructing views of the bay and islands from the town side. The pump house will, when complete, be about one metre higher than the pier and approximately level with the old Abbey wall. Local people are concerned that this structure will block the view down the bay and leave part of the islands hidden from the town side. Denis O’Donnell, clerk of works for the council on the site, insists there is no change from the original plans - he said that an Environmental Impact Study was carried out and passed before work began.
Dara Kerrane, assistant Council resident engineer, told me“There will be a paved platform from pump house to the pier for pedestrian access, with a seating area and viewing platform on top of the pump house. There will be stone armour-facing from pump station out to sea - when complete, this will be an attractive area”.
Veolia, the company in charge of the sewerage scheme, have subcontracted Ascon to carry out the work. While I was on site, big guns from Veolia arrived for a high powered meeting with ESB officials. Patrick Boudrot, project manager; Nino Fotirossito, Director; and Aidan McGinley, project engineer, told me that the development is on schedule. Mr Fotirossito said everything was going to plan and the reason they were down in Donegal was because of some problems encountered by the ESB. “We were proposing to put the transformer undergound but the Electricity Supply Board have other ideas.” Nino said.
When the two ESB officials arrived, I asked them if underground would be possible as there was already concerns in the public arena re the pump house building defacing the pier area. One replied “This is our first consultation on the project and the substation which is required for the scheme will measure 3.5metres high and 3.5 by 4metres floor area approx. It has to be built above ground due to the high voltage. This was not dealt with on the original plan thus today’s discussion on the positioning of this station. It will require planning.”
So not only is there going to be a pump house one metre higher than the pier but there will also be a second structure on this site. This was the fear expressed in our ‘Opinion’ piece in the last issue of Donegal Times - that the pumping station over at the pier will protrude upwards to possibly disfigure our greatest natural asset. But it is now too late to be asking questions - our town managers, chamber, councillors, Enterprise Group and concerned residents should have been looking at the plans when permission was applied for, and pointing out these problems. You object before - not after!
Retracing a bit - at the Donegal Electoral committee meeting in the Public Services Centre last week, I expressed the public fear of possible defects at the pier to Senior Council Engineer, Peadar Thomas. He referred me to architect Roci Allen “who has been handed the brief for overall planning and co-ordination at this area.”
On Friday, our editor rang Mr Allen and expressed concerns about the height and visual impact of constructions in the bay area.
“My brief is solely to plan the new tourist office, path and lighting, it does not extend past the pier.” Mr Allen said. However he intimated that he would be willing to meet with the other parties involved to try and produce an aesthetically pleasing result. “It is outside my remit” Mr Allen said. “But it is in the interest of everybody to keep the views of the bay and islands intact.”
Mr Allen went on “I would be surprised if those responsible gave permission for any structure that would visually impair this view – the list of restrictions placed on me in building the hospitality centre was very onerous, so as not to block sightlines. I would be amazed if it was otherwise with other contractors.”
Mr Allen told the Times that the new centre would be tucked under the sloping wall below Mrs Johnstons house. The roof would contain a seating area accessible from Quay Brae and there will be steps leading from there down to the pier area. Stretching to 3,000 sq foot. the interior will be mostly open plan and contain the tourist office and waterbus booking office along with other facilities.



RTE Reporter Paul Tanney interviews Donegal Times Editor Liam Hyland

Three years ago, in a flurry of excitement, then Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy announced that the mighty civil service, based in Dublin, was to decentralise to many towns around the country. Two of these were Donegal Town, and Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
In the Midlands centre the operation is complete, new offices constructed and staff in place. Donegal, meanwhile hasn’t moved forward an inch.
Last week RTE man Paul Tanney arrived in town to discover the reaction of locals to this lack of progress. In interviews to be broadcast on ‘Morning Ireland’ in the near future, Paul talked to various people around town about what many consider the greatest political con of all time.
Having already carried out the same exercise in Tullamore, the programme will gauge sentiment in both towns.
When asked why he picked Donegal Times to gauge public opinion, with two other rags in town, Paul said he had been told by people in the area that this paper was the true voice of the local community.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937


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