Galway TDs and senators must crank up the pressure on the Government for the Galway ring road oral hearing, according to a Galway city councillor. Independent councillor Noel Larkin said everyone in favour of the ring road including interested groups, businesses, and organisations, as well as politicians, must come out in force to support the proposal.
Cllr Larkin said that the forthcoming oral hearing will be an opportunity for everyone concerned with the chronic traffic congestion in Galway City to express their support for the bypass, giving it a better chance of getting through this first process.
“It is crucial that An Bord Pleanala (ABP ) hears the support from concerned citizens for the proposed outer ring road. If this project is rejected at this stage, it will be another ten years before progress will be made.
“The funding that is now in place, €750m, will be diverted elsewhere. The whole process will have to be started all over again, and the millions that have been spent already, not just in the last five years, but since 1999, will be lost.
An oral hearing was to take place in May 2019, to give the general public an opportunity to express their views and voice their support on the proposed plans, but there appears to be another delay. I am demanding that all our fair weather TDs and senators intensify the pressure for the Galway Ring Road oral hearing. [It is] time for our higher politicians to start making noise,” he said.
Planning permission for an outer ring road around the city was partially granted in 2008, however, the original design fell foul of ABP, the High Court, and the Supreme Court in 2009 and was finally abandoned in 2013 after a ruling from the EU Court of Justice on grounds of special conservation, and Cllr Larkin has warned that if it the new design does not succeed it could have drastic consequences in attracting investment to the city.
“In 1999, the Galway City Council put forward plans to build an outer bypass on the outskirts of Galway city. At that time some people were unhappy with the route that the bypass was taking. The whole process was dragged through the high courts, and then the European courts, and the Galway City Council and the Government of the day eventually lost the case on the grounds that the road was impacting on special areas of conservation,” he said.
“This ruling has cost city and county inhabitants dearly. Countless hours stuck in dreadful traffic, across the city, loss of business due to people not wishing to come to Galway to do business [because it is] easier to drive to Limerick, Athlone, and even Dublin.
“We must look forward, learn from mistakes previously made, and plan the future growth of Galway city for the next 50 years. If we do not seize this opportunity now, the future of Galway city will be fraught with disappointment. It will be impossible to attract new businesses into the city, and the ones that we are so fortunate to have here may not perceive Galway as an ideal location to stay in or plan for expansion.
“If we miss this opportunity now, we will have to endure this horrendous traffic that now exists for many woeful years to come. Tourists will find other easier accessible areas to visit, which will affect our businesses and people alike. It is imperative that we end this dreadful traffic situation that has gripped our city. I am asking all concerned to support this new outer ring road, and progress our city, county and west of Ireland to a new level. The future of our city is in our hands at this time,” he concluded.