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Former mayors pile pressure on planners over Galway City Ring Road decision


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Former mayors pile pressure on planners over Galway City Ring Road decision Former mayors pile pressure on planners over Galway City Ring Road decision

Two former mayors of Galway have piled political pressure on An Bórd Pleanála to speed up its deliberations on the city’s proposed ring road.

City Councillors Clodagh Higgins (FG) and Noel Larkin (Ind) have vented their frustrations at the lack of progress on the proposed ring road to bypass Galway City.

The duo tabled a Notice of Motion at a recent Galway City Council Strategic Policy Committee on Transport emphasising to Green Party leader and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan the “urgency for an expedited decision” on the road by An Bórd Pleanála.  Both councillors said Galway was “being ignored” when it came to infrastructural projects such as the ring road, which they support.

Ironically, environmental opponents of the ring road want a speedy decision, too, arguing that the delayed decision on the project was also delaying the implementation of greener transport options.

“After years of discussions and debates, a decision on the proposed ring road is urgently required. The construction of the new road would result in significant benefits for the city and region, including  new job opportunities, improved transport links and enhanced economic development,” said Cllr Larkin.

Cllr Higgins said Galway was fastest-growing city in Ireland, and was projected to grow substantially in the coming years.

“To accommodate this, the construction of the ring road is an urgent necessity. The ongoing delay is causing significant frustration and uncertainty for residents, businesses and the wider community and it is damaging our reputation which is currently focused on the shocking traffic jams in the city,” she claimed.

Opponents of the ring road, argue that the new road will actually lead to more traffic congestion and more urban sprawl. They argue that active travel and encouraging a transition away from cars is a better option for a city of this size.

But Cllrs Larkin and Higgins said the ring road is vital to diverting traffic that does not need to go through the city centre.

“The time has come for a decision and it is important that all stakeholders work together to ensure the best possible outcome for the city and its residents.

“The fate of this project lies in the hands of An Bord Pleanála and it’s imperative they urgently make this decision so the benefits or fall-out from same can be best dealt with,” she said.

Both councillors wrote to the ABP calling for the decision to be expedited.

Galway County Councillor Alastair McKinstry (Green) described the new plan as a “zombie plan” that is not about traffic but about opening up land for development. He wants a swift decision for different reasons.

“We need to move on,” he said.” It’s serving nobody that the decision is taking so long. The plan is in contravention of the Climate Action Act, which says we need to reduce the amount of cars driven by 20% inside six years.

“It’s a zombie plan. It’s basically about opening land around Bearna and Knocknacarra for development and more associated traffic which we cannot sustain.

“Only three percent of traffic wants to go from east to west, the rest goes into the city and will not be positively affected by the ring road. It will not solve the problem in the city but everything else that is designed to solve the problem of congestion, like park and ride, and new cycle lanes, is being delayed until the ring road decision, and that’s what we need to prevent.”

The project suffered a setback this year after An Bord Pleanála conceded that it did not consider the Government’s new Climate Action Plan when it granted planning permission for the 18km road last November. It has now been remitted to ABP to reconsider the case in the context of the Climate Action Plan.

Government has indicated it will fund the project if it gets planning permission, which will cost at least €600m according to estimates.

ABP has given no indication how long it will take to consider the plans afresh in the context of the State’s climate obligations.

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