Lorry ban sought as plan for Slane bypass rejected
A BYPASS of Slane village is unlikely to be built for at least a decade following yesterday’s refusal of planning approval by An Bord Pleanála, Department of Transport sources have said. The new road would have bypassed the existing Boyne bridge and N2 road through the Co Meath village. In its refusal yesterday, the board said the proposed 3.5km bypass, which was to be located 1.1km to the east of the current bridge, was within the “viewshed” of the Brú na Bóinne Unesco world heritage site, which includes the neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. It said the scheme “would be acceptable only where it has been demonstrated that no appropriate alternative is available”.
Campaign group Save Newgrange which opposed the bypass immediately called for a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) ban in the village, while the Slane Bridge Action Group said it was “devastated” by the refusal and expressed scepticism that a HGV ban could or would be enforced. The Slane Bypass Group also expressed disappointment. Minister of State and local TD Shane McEntee said planning for an alternative route for the bypass should begin immediately. However, the National Roads Authority (NRA) said the board’s decision “rejects any proposed bypass of Slane and is focused on a traffic-management solution”. This was “disappointing especially for the people of Slane, but the NRA accepts the decision”. The NRA was told last year to finish planning on all current road schemes and it does not have a budget to prepare a new route.
A Department of Transport spokesman said: “The Minister has asked the NRA to review the matter and return with recommendations in the near future on how to proceed”. But sources said the decision, taken in the current economic context, effectively meant the bypass “will not be built in the next decade at least”. Speaking to The Irish Times, John Ryle of the Slane Bridge Action Group said the locals were “shattered”. “We don’t see why aesthetics, a view, should take precedence over people’s lives.” Mr Ryle said there were already extensive traffic-calming measures in Slane and a 30km per hour speed limit leading to the bridge, “but nobody obeys it”. “What respect does a runaway truck have for a speed limit, whether it is 30 kilometres or 100 kilometres an hour?” He recalled the death of local toddler David Garvey (2) on the bridge in recent years, and said this had been one of 22 fatal crashes he could recall. He did not want to be a “prophet of doom” but he believed there would be further crashes on the existing route in the absence of a bypass.
Save Newgrange spokesman Vincent Salafia said the group urged Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, Meath County Council and the roads authority to immediately implement a HGV ban in the village “in order to protect drivers, villagers and the heritage value of the village”. The bypass decision was “a huge victory for heritage and sustainable development in Ireland”. “The Unesco world heritage site is our most popular tourist attraction, which will play a key role in our economic recovery, and it deserves the highest level of legal protection.”
Slane bypass plan rejected
Sir, – After the decision to route the M3 close to Tara when a viable alternative existed, I doubted that the proximity of a Unesco world heritage site to the proposed N2 Slane bypass would influence the planners, whatever about the NRA and Meath Co Council officials.
Happily I was mistaken (Home News, March 8th). It is worth citing part of An Bord Pleanála’s judgment to drive home this point: “The board considers that the proposed development would have a detrimental impact on the rural character, landscape setting, cultural amenity and archaeological heritage of the Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex, and would be contrary to the heritage protection provisions of the [County Meath] Development Plan. The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.
An important question remains. Why won’t the NRA and Meath Co Council implement a heavy goods vehicle ban to address the genuine and important safety concerns of local residents? After all, the distance between Dublin Port and Ardee is 73km via the M1 and 74km via the N2. – Yours, etc,
Dr JARLATH MOLLOY,