Archive for the ‘Nenagh Guardian’ Category

Shannon bridge Crossing and Killalo Bypass – From Nenagh Guardian

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Oral hearing on Ballina-Killaloe bridge
(13/10/2012)

By Peter Gleeson
An oral hearing by An Bord Pleanala on plans for a new bridge over the Shannon at Ballina-Killaloe could last a number of weeks if objectors to the scheme are not dealt with in a meaningful way.
The claim was made on day one of the hearing in The Abbey Court Hotel in Nenagh on Monday by Richard Rae, who, along with John Crowley, are consultants for up to 70 people who have concerns/objections in relation to the scheme.
Clare County Council, as the lead local authority in the project, is seeking to acquire lands by compulsory purchase order to facilitate the construction of the new bridge downstream of the existing bridge. The latter is deemed too narrow for modern day traffic purposes.
The scheme includes plans to construct a bypass of the town of Killaloe and an upgrade of the R494 route linking Birdhill and Ballina.
In an opening statement at the hearing, Mr Rae said Clare County Council had refused to engage in a meaningful manner with his clients and those of Mr Crowley.
Mr Rae said the council had failed to respond until last week to detailed points submitted by him back in May of this year, aimed at assisting the local authority in furthering the project.
He said he and Mr Crowley were rejecting an offer made by the council on October 3rd last, which, he said, was “in effect asking us to act against the best interests of our clients and is coercion”.
“We are not prepared to accept a Clare County Council substandard design and lack of legal commitment,” said Mr Rae.
He said the standard required for the scheme should be the same standard as that which applied during the construction of the M7 through North Tipperary and the M8 through South Tipperary, “and all other national roads that we have been involved in”.
He said he and Mr Crowley would not be abiding by a request that they withdraw objections on behalf of their clients by Tuesday of this week.
“Even if Clare County Council were to offer us 30,000 pieces of silver per client, there will be no withdrawal of objections to meet the Clare County Council deadline,” said Mr Rae.
Mr Rae submitted that under the Danish system, the Irish way of dealing with compulsory purchase orders would be deemed to be fatally flawed, “because the system does not act in favour of the person impacted by a CPO”.
Mr Rae told the hearing that it would take up to two weeks for the oral hearing to deal with the submissions of his and Mr Crowley’s clients, if the Clare County Council did not fairly address their submissions. “We could be here for an awful long time.”
Stephen Kay, the chief planning inspector who is conducting the oral hearing on behalf of An Bord Pleanala, said there were a total of 86 objections to the scheme.
Peter Sweetman, a representative for a number of other objectors, said it was unacceptable that the Office of Public Works were not present at the hearing.
He described a submission made to the hearing by the National Roads Authority as “unintelligible” and said it, too, had a duty to be at the hearing, as did CIE who had land in the area of the scheme.
Mr Sweetman also said that certain documentation and transcripts that should have been made available to the inquiry were unavailable – a situation he referred to as “sloppy”.
Mr Kay said Clare County Council had made a commitment to make such documents available to the hearing and was prepared to facilitate people with copies. He said any concerns raised about the absence of the NRA, CIE and the OPW from hearing would be noted when evidence was being taken.
Barrister Michael O’Donnell, representing a number of objectors, said certain documentation pertaining to the environmental impact assessment would have to be made available by the council so that it could be meaningfully discussed. He said certain evidence would be prejudicial to his clients if specific documents were not made available, and it would not be appropriate to proceed with the hearing unless the material he requested was furnished.
Project manager of the proposed scheme, Michael Conroy, of Roughan O’Donovan Consulting Engineers, said a bypass of Killaloe was considered a necessary part of the scheme as it would assist in traffic reduction in Ballina-Killaloe, making the area more of an attractive place to live and visit.
He said a bypass would assist in the overall development potential of Killaloe and improve access to the area and to nearby towns such as Scariff and Tulla.
Mr Conroy said the existing narrow bridge over the Shannon was a protected structure and could not be widened or improved to accommodate present day traffic requirements. The proposed scheme would substantially reduce traffic congestion in the area.