Galway community group pledges to protect city woodlands

Councillors vote to allow new hospice construction within Merlin Woods

Merlin Woods is home to five species of bat, some 16 species of butterfly and the short-eared owl. Library photograph: iStock

Merlin Woods is home to five species of bat, some 16 species of butterfly and the short-eared owl. Library photograph: iStock

 

A Galway community group has said it will continue its efforts to protect one of the city’s oldest and most biodiverse woods, following a vote by city councillors in favour of building a hospice in the area.

A majority of councillors agreed to a revision in the draft city development plan which would allow Galway Hospice to build on a seven-acre site within Merlin Woods, which had been zoned for recreational and amenity use.

The hospice in Renmore has welcomed the vote as an “important milestone” and the “first hurdle” in its efforts to provide a bigger premises for palliative care.

The hospice had initially sought a 14-acre site from the Health Service Executive, which runs Merlin Park Hospital within the woodlands.

The sale is contingent on planning permission. The hospice said it hoped to meet the community group and HSE before design stage to assuage any environmental fears.

The Friends of Merlin Woods group said its battle was not with the hospice but with the HSE, which, it said, could have provided an alternative at a lower environmental cost.

Merlin Woods is habitat to five species of bat, some 16 species of butterfly and the short-eared owl.