An embargo on spending in relation to the Galway City Outer Bypass must be lifted as it is vital to start preparing for a Plan B ahead of awaited Supreme Court ruling.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway West TD Brian Walsh who has written to the Minister for Transport Leo Vradkar, calling on him to overturn the embargo put in place in 2010 by the previous minister Noel Dempsey.
Minister Dempsey imposed the embargo on spending, pending the resolution of an ongoing legal challenge to the bypass, currently awaiting a ruling by the Supreme Court.
The European Court of Justice recently issued a preliminary ruling, which found the project as planned would breach the EU Habitats Directive. However, an alternative application can be made to allow for the bypass to proceed under Article 6(4 ) of the EU Habitats Directive.
As a result, Dep Walsh wrote to Minister Vradkar to lift the embargo to facilitate the continued preparation of a contingent application under Article 6(4 ).
Dep Walsh said new environmental surveys and traffic data will be required in drafting a new application under Article 6(4 ) and the Galway County Council “needs to make progress immediately in this regard”.
“Lifting the embargo to allow the local authority to carry out the necessary preparatory works means we would be in a position to proceed apace as soon as the Supreme Court issues its ruling,” he said.
Efforts are currently under way to prepare an application under that Article, known as the Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest procedure, but work on this could be restricted due to the spending embargo.
“I have been saying since last year that preparation of a Plan B should be set in motion,” Dep Walsh said, “so we are not recommencing from a standing start in lodging an application under the IROPI process.”