Revised plans for the controversial Galway city outer bypass are being drawn up and Galway City Council is examining a number of potential routes for the road.
The city council is the lead authority in developing a new planning application for the €300 million project. There will now be a consultation phase with the public and affected landowners and the amended plans are expected to be ready for submission to An Bord Pleanála by the second half of this year.
It follows the rejection of the original route by the European Court of Justice in 2013. The court ruled that construction of the bypass would result in “lasting and irreparable loss of the whole, or part, of a priority natural habitat” in the County Galway area. However the court added that national planning authorities might grant approval if the application was made through the Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest [IROPI] procedure, and that the authority was satisfied there was no alternative solution.
Speaking at Monday’s local authority meeting, Mayor of Galway Donal Lyons said it was patently obvious there was a need for a traffic solution in Galway to meet the problems being encountered by motorists and commuters in the city on a daily basis. He said much of the traffic which was passing through the city centre could be diverted to the bypass.
“I think the outer bypass is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure ever for Galway. It is not going to solve all our problems but as a city going forward, we need this to happen. We have not had a major transport initiative in Galway since 1986 when the Quincentennial bridge was built.”
Independent councillor Catherine Connolly said it was unfair on people whose land was reserved for potential use by the bypass, saying farmers and landowners were effectively “in limbo” regarding the future use of their land.
Director of services for transport Joe O’Neill appreciated the difficulties. “Our intention is to bring the process forward so we can begin to de-sterilise land when a preferred route is chosen. I am conscious of how difficult it is for people whose land is reserved. I would hope we would make a lot of progress on that issue this year.’’