Supporting Local News

Small road repairs in Conamara ‘nearly need Vatican’s permission’

You’d nearly have to ‘apply to the Vatican’ for permission to do a small job on a road in Conamara – given the rules and restrictions that apply – according to a local councillor.

Cllr Tomás Ó Curraoin (Rep SF) told last Friday’s Conamara Area meeting in County Hall that ‘too many groups had too much of a say’ when it came to emergency works being carried out.

“There is something really wrong when these groups can hold up important and emergency works that need to be carried out – you’d nearly have to go to the Vatican to get permission to do a small job in Conamara,” said Cllr Ó Curraoin.

His comments came after an update was given in relation to ongoing delays on the N59 upgrade and realignment works planned on a 10km stretch of roadway between Claremount (west of Oughterard) and Bunnakill (east of Maam Cross).

Conamara Cathaoirleach, Cllr Noel Thomas (FF), read out an updated statement from Galway County Council outlining the delays in relation to the project.

In the statement, the Council said that they were obliged to get approval from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Inland Fisheries for the construction stage method statements.

“Last year, the NPWS wrote to Galway County Council advising that the responsibility for ensuring that the method statements comply with the EU Habitats Directive lies with Galway County Council (GCC).

“GCC sought legal clarity on the NPWS position, and after receiving initial advices, held a competition for legal advisors to ensure compliance with the development consent.

“It is anticipated that the legal advisors will be appointed this month (January 24) and their advice will help determine when advance work contracts could commence,” according to the County Council update.

Cllr Thomas said that the Claremount to Bunnakill road upgrade project was an absolutely essential one for the people of Conamara which had been dogged by delays.

“From an environmental and ecological point of view, the road upgrade will have a positive impact. People just can’t understand how such a necessary infrastructural project can be subject to such hold-ups,” said Cllr Thomas.

According to Cllr Tom Welby (Ind), the road upgrade was not about trying to reinvent the wheel. “There is nothing new to NPWS on this project – they are just dragging their feet on this: it’s not good enough,” said Cllr Welby.

Cllr Gerry King (FF) described the delays with this section of the N59 as ‘very frustrating’ for what he said was a very straight forward road project.

Green Party councillor Alastair McKinstry said that moves needed to be made quickly to get the ecologists’ reports completed, with more resources required to carry out that part of the project.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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