The oral hearing into the proposed Slane Bypass will begin on 15th February in the Boyne Valley Hotel, Drogheda. An Bord Pleanala confirmed the date last week for the hearing on the route of the proposed N2 bypass. The roads would divert up to 10,000 vehicles a day away from Slane bridge, the scene of numerous fatal accidents over the years.
The planning board will hold a preliminary meeting in Drogheda’s Boyne Valley Hotel next Wednesday to acertain how many people want to make submissions to the main oral hearing. Cllr Wayne Harding has welcomed the oral hearings, pointing out that Slane bridge has been the scene of numerous traffic accidents which has claimed the lives of 22 people over the years. “Another milestone has been reached in what has been along journey. I am very happy with what will be extensive consultation in relation to the proposed route. I believe that the enormous amount of further information submitted clears up a lot of the issues that have grown up around the application,” he said. “I fully respect the independence of the board, but will be making the point that this year’s winter only strenghtens the argument for the bypass. It was impassable on many days during the cold spell, the western wall of Slane bridge partially collapsed due to what engineers believe was frost, and subsidence on the Mill Hill caused an emergency road closure. This is unacceptable for a national primary route,” he said.
Deputy Shane McEntee said the hearing was another step towards the new bridge and bypass being built. “This new bridge is a number one priority for me. It has taken so long to get this far and every new development is a step in the right direction. I am hoping that once this oral hearing has taken place, the people of Slane will be one step closer to getting the new bridge they so desperately want and need. “The closing of the bridge this week due to roadworks is just another indication of how necessary a new bridge is. Thousands of people have been inconvenienced and have had to take alternative routes, many of which are on small back roads. It has put extra time on their journeys, as well as extra pressure on the smaller back roads, which cannot cope with the huge level of traffic. A new modern bridge would put an end to disruption like this,” he said.
Senator Dominic Hannigan said he would be adding his support to the Slane bypass campaign and stressed how important building the bypass is to the people of Slane. “Too many lives have been lost already and there have been too many times when tragedy has only narrowly been avoided. The people of Slane and their children need this bypass,” said Senator Hannigan. “As I am very much in favour of the bypass, I will be informing the board of my intentions to make an oral submission.” He added: “The first week will be spent looking at how the proposed bypass will contribute to the improvement of traffic in Slane. The archaeological implications, including the fact that the proposed route for the bypass is 500m from the buffer zone around the World Heritage Site at Brú na Bóinne, will be considered in the second week,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Save Newgrange campaign has requested a postponement of the oral hearing until after the general election. Spokesperson Vincent Salafia pointed out that the Oireachtas Transport Committee was to hold hearings in February. He said the planning board had a legal duty to consider the committee hearings, as part of the planning process, and therefore the Bord Pleanala hearing should take place after the Dail hearings.
“It is also unfair to expect stakeholders to participate in two sets of hearings simultaneously,” he added.
WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – firstname.lastname@example.org