The European Commission is to examine the proposed Merlin Bus Corridor to see if it complies with the EU Habitats Directive, that is according to Midlands-North West MEP Jim Higgins who will be visiting the Merlin Woods site this coming Saturday.
The visit by MEP Higgins is at the request of city councillor Frank Fahy, a member of the Friends of Merlin Woods, who has tabled a motion for the February Galway City Council meeting calling for the controversial proposal to be removed from the Galway City Development Plan.
Speaking in Brussels this week, MEP Higgins confirmed that he has formally asked the European Commission to look at the proposed development for the Merlin Bus Corridor and that he is “certain that given the features of the site, there is scope to block the destruction of the wood under the [EU Habitats] Directive”.
Giving his full support to Cllr Fahy’s motion, MEP Higgins, who is Ireland’s only member of the European Parliament Transport Committee, will visit the city this Saturday in order to examine first-hand the proposal for the new bus corridor.
“I am already familiar with the site, and those who know me know that I am all in favour of public transport, including the provision of improved bus services in Galway city. However we must get the balance right - this is a fabulous natural amenity, valued by the people of east Galway city, and the city council quite literally want to drive a coach and four through the site.
“The EU Habitats Directive has been a very contentious piece of legislation, and is responsible for blocking the much-needed Galway city outer bypass, however on this occasion, we might be able to use it to the people of Galway's advantage. I am in favour of Cllr Fahy's approach - build a new bus lane from the old Corrib Great Southern to the Galway Clinic, at a fraction of the cost. The council are barking up the wrong tree. I am very familiar with the directive, and I am not certain that building a road through an amenity such as Merlin Woods would comply with EU Law.”