The controversial Galway City Outer Bypass will be the subject of a high level meeting in Brussels next week involving the European Commission.
The meeting, which takes place next Tuesday, will see the Commission, represented by senior officials from the Environment Directorate General and the EU Environment Commissioner’s Chef De Cabinet, Kurt Vandenberghe, holding talks with the Galway Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce, and Oireachtas Transport Committee. Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Frank Fahey will lead the transport committee group.
The aim is to lay the ground work for informal discussions between the Irish authorities and European Commission on the possibility of the Galway City Outer Bypass being “justified for imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature”.
Deputy Fahey believes this approach “will help the Supreme Court in its deliberations” on the appeal taken following the recent High Court decision.
The Supreme Court has agreed to seek a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice on its interpretation of the Habitats Directive.
According to Dep Fahey, if the European Court of Justice finds against the High Court’s consent for the bypass, the authorities here can still present an agreed format to the Supreme Court which would meet the requirements of article 6(4 ) of the Council Directive.
This would involve the same route of the bypass being remitted to An Bord Pleanála together with the Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest case.
A meeting has taken place at the request of Transport Minister Noel Dempsey between his officials and the National Parks & Wildlife Service to examine the implications of preparing an IROPI case and the compensatory measures that might have to be undertaken by the Galway County Council.
“I am confident we can progress the planning of the bypass by finding an agreed way forward which can be submitted by the Supreme Court before it makes its final decision,” said Dep Fahey. “The preparation of the IROPI case can proceed while the matter is being considered by the European Court of Justice