The planning for new N6 Galway City Outer Bypass scheme has begun, with the first of a series of public consultation meetings taking place earlier this week.
It comes after both Galway city and county councils reaffirmed their committment to the scheme following a joint briefing for councillors at County Hall last week.
The briefing reaffirmed the committment of both councils to “developing a solution to the existing transportation issues in Galway city and environs”.
The original scheme had been plagued with difficulties. The original decision by An Bord Pleanala on the December 2006 submission had been split. Approval for the Environmental Impact Statement for the scheme was appealed to the High Court on the basis of the interpretation of the European Habitats Directive in relation to impacts on the Lough Corrib SAC. The High Court upheld the ABP decision, however it was appealed to the Supreme Court which sought the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union on an interpretation of the European Habitats Directive.
The CJEU delivered its judgment in April 2013 stating that the project would adversely affect the integrity of the site and that it could not be authorised on the basis of Article 6(3 ) of the European Habitats Directive. The Supreme Court then subsequently quashed the earlier ABP decision.
The current project is being managed by the National Roads Project Office of Galway County Council on behalf of both councils under an agreement made pursuant to Section 85 of the Local Government Act 2001. The task now is to establish the cause of the existing problems and issues in order to develop appropriate and effective solutions. While transportation and environmental issues will be examined it is also intended to fully examine the possibility of making a submission under Article 6(4 ) of the European Habitat Directive. However certain criteria must be achieved and the original scheme now has no legal status. Councillors were told last week that prior to making an application under Article 6(4 ) all alternatives must be explored.