Galway County Council have been charged with the daunting task of trying to sell plots of land – with no access.
The lands are located along the M6 motorway between Ballinasloe and Galway city, and have been deemed surplus to requirements.
Prior to the motorway being constructed, the then-National Roads Authority acquired huge tracts of land along the route but now some of this stretch is no longer required.
And it has emerged that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (the former NRA) has asked Galway County Council to commission auctioneers to sell off the land to the highest bidder.
Some of these properties, however, have no access; but yet the local authority has to go through the official process of trying to dispose of them – even if they are landlocked.
Director of Services Michael Timmins said that while some of the land was inaccessible, the Council had to go through “an open and transparent” process of disposing of these properties.
He explained to Ballinasloe Municipal Council that Transport Infrastructure Ireland, which own the lands, had asked Council to source auctioneers for the disposal of these properties. Mr Timmins said that TII would then get the money back when the lands are sold.
But an irate Cllr Timmy Broderick said that the simple process would be to approach the farmers who had their lands acquired by compulsory purchase order to see if they were willing to buy the strips of ground back.
The independent councillor said that it was ridiculous that there would be an attempt to put land up for sale that was not accessible – except to the farmer who it had been acquired from in the first place.
But Mr Timmins said that there was a process that had to be adhered to while accepting that some of the lands being put up for sale was not accessible but to the original land owner.
However, he said that some of the strips of land off the motorway were quite valuable and could have development potential for housing.
“It is an absolute joke,” added Cllr Broderick. “It is going to cost a fortune to try and sell land that has no access. How do the Council expect to sell land that nobody can get access to? It is a pure waste of public money.”
Cllr Aidan Donohue agreed that it was a waste of money appointing auctioneers and valuers. He added when the lands were acquired for the motorway, it split farms in two and he believed that they should be offered back to the farmers who originally owned the properties.
Cllr Michael Connolly of Fianna Fail said that the process should be done locally as was the case when land was acquired to widen the N17 between Milltown and Ballindine. “We are dealing with faceless individuals when the Council should be working with people on the ground,” he said.