Author: Stephen Corrigan
~ 3 minutes read
A further €3 million is to be spent by Galway County Council on Galway City’s ill-fated Ring Road.
County councillors were told at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District (MD) that the local authority was setting aside the money to be spent on legal and consultation fees this year as part of An Bord Pleanála’s ‘Further Information’ process.
The High Court overturned planning permission for the €600 million project in January after it was revealed that the Board failed to consider the Climate Action Plan in approving the project, and the application has been remitted back to the planning authority for reconsideration.
Cathaoirleach of the MD, Cllr Liam Carroll (FG), questioned if it was wise to be spending more money on the project.
“I hope this is not a black hole because, as I understand it, €33 million has already been spent on this,” said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Jim Cuddy (Ind) said there was genuine anger in the city and county about the quashing of planning permission for the ring road as he criticised An Bord Pleanála for failing to properly consider climate legislation.
“I’d like to know what this [€3 million] is being spent on? If it’s for consultants, then by God, they’re having a great day out of the taxpayer,” he said, as he sought guarantees that those who would be appointed were “competent”.
Director of Services Derek Pender said there was no question of the Council’s or consultants’ competence to date, stating that their plan had been granted permission, only for new legislation to move the goalposts.
He said the Further Information request which the Council awaited would likely require additional environmental and traffic surveys, and incur legal fees, and “we need that money to fund it”.
Meanwhile Cllr Cuddy blasted the Government for failing to recognise the need for a relief road in Claregalway which he said had been dropped from the National Development Plan (NDP).
“You see other places with only a fraction of traffic going though and getting funding for projects,” said Cllr Cuddy, adding that Transport Infrastructure Ireland had indicated it would not fund the road as it was not in the NDP.
Cllr James Charity (Ind) said “we have a ‘Green’ problem in this country” as he blamed the Green Party Minister for Transport for the lack of progress on both the city ring road and the Claregalway relief road.
“We had a local Green Party senator actively celebrating the collapse of the [city ring road] application before the High Court.
“The Green Party is playing a blinder in terms of their remit,” said Cllr Charity as he expressed doubt that there would be progress on either project for as long as the Greens controlled the Department of Transport.
Mr Pender said he had written to the Department regularly in relation to the Claregalway relief road and believed it was “improbable” that it would be delivered.
“There are schemes that are actually in the NDP that are not progressing, including the upgrade of Clifden to Maam Cross which is much needed,” said Mr Pender.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:
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