The Slane bypass is ‘idiotic’ says ERSI economist – Dr Edgar Morgenroth

The Slane bypass is ‘idiotic’ says ERSI economist

Dr Edgar Morgenroth, Associate Research Professor with the Economic and Social Research Centre (ESRI), believes the Slane bypass is “idiotic”. On 24 April 2009 he wrote an Opinion piece for The Irish Times called ‘Cuts in capital spending need not mean fewer projects‘ in which he argued the challenge for the public service is to negotiate hard for reduced tender prices. Of the N2 Slane bypass he said:

Of course, not all planned infrastructure projects were good projects to start with and some should certainly be abandoned. It is remarkable that there are plans to facilitate the avoidance of the toll on the M1 by building a bypass around Slane involving the expensive construction of a bridge over the river Boyne when a simple HGV ban would solve the local traffic problems.

This expert advice was submitted to An Bord Pleanala, by Save Newgrange, as part of their submission for the planning process, in February 2010. Since then, Dr Morgenroth has written two posts in The Irish Economy blog, saying the N2 Slane bypass is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The first post, 1 March 2010, was entitled ‘Wasting money on roads?‘ and said:

The simple, cheap and obvious solution to the problem of HGVs going through Slane is to ban them from doing so, as I argued in May 2009. This would also avoid all the hassle of forcing a major construction project through an area rich in archaeological sites and historic significance.

The follow-up post, published 25 August 2010, was entitled simply ‘Wasting money on roads‘, wherein Dr Morgenroth said:

Unfortunately gold-plating of projects is not unusual. In the ESRI Mid-Term Evaluation of NDP 2000-2006 we pointed out that “roads with capacity of 55,500 AADT, or anywhere near it, appear to be a significant overdesign for the numerous lightly-trafficked sections of the N8 and N9″. Such schemes cannot pass a reasonable cost-benefit analysis when compared to more appropriately sized schemes.

Unfortunately, the lesson does not seem to have been learned and the tax payer is expected to pay for overdesign again (the fact that some of the schemes are PPPs is irrelevant here as these also have to be paid for by tax payers).

Take the example of the N2, for which there are two proposed schemes in the system. I have already referred to the idiotic scheme to by-pass Slane where the key issue could be simply dealt with via a HGV ban.

Dr Morgenroth’s August blog post was picked up in The Irish Times, by Frank McDonald on 26 August – ‘Planned Slane bypass ‘idiotic’, says transport expert‘.

PLANS FOR a dual-carriageway to bypass the village of Slane, Co Meath, have been described as “idiotic” by Dr Edgar Morgenroth, associate professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Dr Morgenroth, who is the institute’s programme co-ordinator for research on transport and infrastructure, said he would be making a formal complaint to the Comptroller and Auditor General if An Bord Pleanála approved the current proposal.

He also said plans by the National Roads Authority for a 27- kilometre dual-carriageway between Clontibret, Co Monaghan, and the Border at Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, amounted to “total overkill, especially since Monaghan has already been bypassed”.

Bypass Slane Campaign response

It wasn’t long before the Fianna Fail press office got working on the issue, and decided to take a pro-local ‘Up Meath’ stance, getting their local TD, Thomas Byrne and Cllr. Wayne Harding into the papers again in the 28 August Irish Times – ‘Powerful forces’ trying to stop Slane bypass – TD:

Dr Morgenroth described the proposed bypass as “idiotic” and warned he would make a formal complaint to the Comptroller and Auditor General if An Bord Pleanála approved the current proposal.

The board, which is considering the matter, has asked Meath County Council to supply detailed additional information on the bypass, including whether any alternative route west of the village had been examined.

Mr Byrne said Dr Morgenroth’s opinion “smack[ed] of unwarranted interference” in the board’s independence and was highly inappropriate.

This is a completely unfounded argument, since Dr Morgenroth had clearly made his opinions known about the bypass in The Irish Times on 23 April 2009.

The Bypass Slane Campaign is seen as a real vote-getting cow in Slane, and across Meath; so much so that it is run out of Cllr. Wayne Harding’s pub/constituency office in Slane. A member of the campaign had a letter published in The Irish Times, on 30 August – Planned Slane bypass ‘idiotic’.

As residents of Slane, we find it unacceptable that we are expected to put our lives at risk on the roads throughout our village every day. The Slane bypass is the only viable alternative to solving this problem once and for all.

The pro-Fianna Fail Meath Chronicle ignored the press release from Save Newgrange, and published an article on 1 September 2010, entitled, ‘Powerful forces’ from outside county trying to sabotage bypass, which quoted Cllr Harding as saying:

“While it is everyone’s democratic right to object to the Slane bypass, among the objectors are quite a number of barristers and senior counsel living on the south side Of Dublin.

This is, of course, completely untrue, and there is in fact strong opposition locally to the proposed bypass, including former Attorney General, Mr John Rogers, SC – as The Irish Times reported on 17 February 2010 – Ex-attorney general among objectors to Slane bypass near prehistoric sites.

FORMER ATTORNEY general John Rogers SC, who lives in the Boyne valley, will be among the objectors to plans by Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority (NRA) to build a bypass of Slane 500 metres from the Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex. The proposed route, running east of Slane, is being opposed by the newly formed Save Newgrange campaign, led by Vincent Salafia, who was prominent in the protracted struggle against the M3 motorway because of its proximity to the Hill of Tara.

HISTORY OF THE FUNDING OF THE N2 SLANE BYPASS

The decision to fund the Slane bypass has been a purely political one, which flies in the face of the NRA’s own decision to withdraw funding from it, as well as expert economic and archaeological advice. The bypass is being funded by Irish and EU taxpayers money, to actually contribute to the Fianna Fail local and General Election campaign strategy.

The economic argument for the Bypass has been blown apart by Dr Morgenroth of the ESRI, who is a specialist in transport, makes very sound economic arguments against the bypass.  He supports the same low cost solution that the locals of Slane campaigned, and even protested for – the HGV ban. The NRA had come to the same conclusion in late May 2009 – that the Bypass was not viable – but then changed their mind, after a visit by Taoiseach Brian Cowen to Slane that very week, during the Fianna Fail election campaign. Since then, in December 2009, Minister Dempsey has cut other more important roads projects across the country, including the N2 Ashbourne to Ardee upgrade to dual carriageway through Meath – but the Slane bypass is proceeding.

Now that Fianna Fail have reversed their decision to fund the bypass, for their own political reasons, not only is the HGV ban not good enough, but funding for the bypass is being demanded on the basis of ‘saving lives’, even as Fianna Fail is pulling funding from Navan hospital and services are being shut down. Badly needed roads projects are being ‘suspended’ all around the country, where there is no such cheaper alternative alternative available like there is with the HGV ban in Slane, Meanwhile, Fianna Fail can be sure that the more local and national press the bypass issue gets, the more free publicity they get. It is almost tempting to say they intentionally routed the bypass close to Bru na Boinne, in order to stir up this very controversy – so they posture at every chance they get. But the bottom line is that the NRA says it wants the bypass for “economic reasons”, and it is now clear those reasons don’t stand up.

TIME-LINE of EVENTS

FUNDING WITHDRAWN – THEN RESTORED TO SLANE BYPASS

4 April 2009 – Locals protest for HGV ban in Slane

Locals have protested for the need for a HGV ban in Slane for a number of years. On 04 April, 2009, RTE reported that local protests had stopped traffic in the village of Slane:

Around 70 protestors blocked traffic through Slane this morning to highlight their campaign to have heavy goods vehicles banned from the Co Meath village.

9 April 2009 – Councillors unanimously vote for HGV ban

A few days later, on 9 April 2009, Meath County Councillors voted to implement a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) ban in Slane – as reported in the  Meath Chronicle story entitled – Slane pile up: Cllrs take first step to ban HGVs. This should have immediately brought a halt to the 1,200 trucks a day passing through Slane, but it hasn’t because the democratic will of the councillors have been thwarted.

The motion to ban HGVs travelling north-south through the village was put to the floor and unanimously passed. Standing orders were suspended at Monday”s council meeting to discuss the issue and a motion put forward by Cllr Ann Dillon Gallagher calling for trucks travelling north-south through the village to be banned received the unanimous support of her fellow councillors.

9 April 2009 – Minister Dempsey says he will “actively facilitate” HGV ban in Slane

The Meath Chronicle also reported on 9 April 2009 that Minister Noel Dempsey said that the Department of Transport and National Roads Authority “would actively facilitate a HGV ban in the village“. However, the ban has not yet been implemented. The Bypass Slane Campaign sprang up immediately, designed to actually ‘campaign’ against the HGV ban. This would get Dempsey off the hook for ordering the bypass, despite the fact the NRA had decided to pull funding from it.

April 2009 – Bypass Slane Campaign Forms

The Bypass Slane Campaign is led by Fianna Fail Cllr Wayne Harding, who was elected in the June 2009 elections, and Thomas Byrne, TD for Meath. The group had been hurriedly formed in April 2009, a month before the elections, and the address of the group is the Village Inn in Slane, the premises owned and operated by Cllr Harding, who also uses it for his constituency office.

Crosses commemorating those killed on the roads around Slane at the bottom of Mill Hill are refurbished and a new explanatory sign is added.

25 May 2009 – Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Dempsey meet Bypass Slane Campaign

The leader of Fianna Fail, Taoiseach, Brian Cowen was welcomed to Slane on 25 May 2oo9 by Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, and his local Fianna Fail allies, Thomas Byrne TD and Cllr-to-be Wayne Harding. This was part of the Fianna Fail European and local election campaign. The Taoiseach’s arrival is proudly proclaimed in Cllr Harding’s blog (see him pictured with Cowen and Bypass Slane) – Harding welcomes Taoiseach meeting with Slane Bridge protest group:

The Taoiseach came to Slane to support the candidates running in the local elections in Meath and South Louth.

While here the Taoiseach and the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey took time to speak to representatives of the Slane Bridge protest group.

I along with Thomas Byrne TD have kept the Taoiseach informed of the very dangerous situation in Slane with the Bridge and how a HGV ban for the town is essential and urgent.

I have been actively involved with protesting against HGVs because I know as a local business man and father of a young child the daily danger that the residents and visitors to the town are exposed to.

The proposal to ban HGVs from Slane is now with Meath County Council and it is vital that they come to a positive conclusion very quickly.

By July they were members of the group were rounded up at short notice and bussed up to Dublin to give a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport on 15 July.

27 May 2009 – NRA tells councillors no funding for bypass

The NRA then informed Slane councillors by letter that there was no funding for the bypass in a 20 May 2009 meeting with Slane Electoral Area councillors, which was reported in The Meath Chronicle on 27 May 2009- .  Incredulity in Slane as NRA says no funds for bypass:

In its explanation for a pause in progress on the construction of a bypass – delivered to councillors at the Slane Electoral Area meeting last Wednesday – the NRA said the Government”s national transport infrastructure investment programme, Transport 21, provided the framework for the development of the national road network over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015. It said that, under the plan, the initial focus of the authority”s programme of works would concentrate on the completion of the five major inter-urban routes linking Dublin to Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Northern Ireland (via the M1) to motorway/high quality carriageway standard.

The plan anticipated the completion of these routes in their entirety by the end of 2010. Transport 21 also envisaged significant development of other key national primary roads, including the N2, N3, N4, N5, N21, N22, N24, N25 and N30, the Atlantic Road Corridor from Letterkenny through Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, as well as a number of national secondary routes which were identified in the plan as being particularly important for regional development, it said. Because of this, and the continued uncertainty regarding public finances, the NRA regretted that ‘it is not possible at this time to provide funding for the construction of the N2 Slane Bypass’.

The Minutes of the Slane Electoral Area May Monthly Meeting, which took place at the Chamber Duleek Civic Offices on Wednesday 20thMay 2009, states as follows:

7.0       Correspondence / Issues raised by the Area Manager

The following items of correspondence were circulated and noted by the Members:

7.1       Letter from NRA stating in essence that it was not possible to provide funding at this stage for the construction of the N2 Slane Bypass.

The Members unanimously expressed extreme disappointment with the contents of this letter. Cllr Cudden suggested that that the five area Members contact the area’s TDs and Senator in an effort to progress the delivery of this vital piece of infrastructure.

The Area Manager advised the Members that they raise this issue at the Full Council meeting to discuss the Slane LAP on the 25th May.

9 July 2009 – County Manager announces he cannot implement the HGV ban

On 09 July 2010 The Meath Chronicle reported that the County Manager, Tom Dowling, said he could not implement the ban, for commercial and legal reasons, according to a ‘report’ circulated to councillors, on the implications of the HGV ban:

The banning of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) from the streets of Slane could have huge financial consequences for Meath County Council in terms of possible exposure to legal claims, delays to deliveries and business frustration, a council official said this week.  The report reaches the conclusion that the banning of HGVs would have national and international implications and, if implemented, could have serious consequences for the council in terms of possible legal exposure, delivery delays and business frustration. ‘

As it is the general duty of the NRA under the Roads Act to secure the provision of a safe and effective network of national roads, it is considered the responsibility of the NRA to have the above mentioned study carried out in order to ascertain the full impacts that such a ban would have on Slane, the county in general, and settlements and infrastructure in other jurisdictions.

It should be noted that Meath County Council is fully supportive of a HGV ban in the village and is willing to work with the NRA in the implementation of whatever proposals that emerge from the study.’

15 July 2009 – NRA announces reversal of Slane bypass decision

On that day, The NRA announced to the Transport Committee that they had changed their mind and wished to proceed with the N2 Slane Bypass, as planned:

The National Roads Authority believes that Slane should be bypassed on economic, environmental and safety grounds. The planning is well advanced and the compulsory purchase order, CPO, and environmental impact statement, EIS, documentation will be available to submit to An Bord Pleanála by October this year. Subject to Department of Finance approval, CPO and EIS applications will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála as soon as the documentation is ready.

This was a complete turn-around by the NRA, and there is no doubt that there has been an intervention at Cabinet level, to secure the funding for the bypass.

15 July 2009 – Oireachtas Transport Committee member tells County Manager he has a legal duty to implement the HGV ban

On 15 July 2009, Meath County Manager, Tom Dowling, made a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, along with the NRA and Bypass Slane campaign, alleging that the HGV ban in Slane would be unworkable:

A resolution to implement a ban on HGVs travelling north-south through Slane on the N2 was passed by the elected members at the council meeting on 6 April 2009.

A report was circulated to the full council on 6 July 2009 on the potential implications that such a ban would have and I fully support the elected representatives in their desire to ban HGVs through Slane. However, it would be remiss of me not to draw attention to the fact that whereas the banning of HGVs from Slane will resolve some of the problems associated with the inadequacy of the existing route, it may well create a multiplicity of other problems.

These will have wide ranging impacts which will extend beyond the borders of County Meath, largely because of the need to give HGV drivers, who would otherwise pass through Slane, sufficient warning so that they can plan alternative routes.

The banning of HGVs in Slane may have wider implications which could have serious consequences for Meath County Council in terms of possible legal exposure, delivery delays and business frustration. These should not be dismissed lightly and could also apply to other affected local authorities and agencies. Apart from the impact on the local commercial interests, any restriction of HGVs through Slane could bring significant local difficulties for the residents along other roads, villages and towns that diverted vehicles would use to avoid Slane and minimise journey times.

In addition, the use of these local roads by HGVs could result in the rapid and serious deterioration of the local road infrastructure and increase the risk of accidents. Consequently, it is vital to consider this matter carefully and to ensure that whatever we do will be done in the proper manner.

Then Fine Gael Spokesperson on Transport, Deputy Fergus O’Dowd, said:

A resolution has been passed by the county council. As the elected Members have called for it, notwithstanding everything the county manager said, I presume the position is he must effect that policy now.

The County Manager responded that “Obviously it is a reserved function to pass the resolution and so on, which has been done. While the resolution has been passed, members are aware that one must find a way to implement such a resolution.” Deputy O’Dowd responded:

However, the law states the local authority must do it. It does not have a choice because the council has passed a resolution and its officials must carry that through.

The County Manager is clearly acting illegally in refusing to implement the HGV ban.

8 December 2009 – Dempsey cuts national roads programme – not Slane bypass

On 8 December 2009, with the financial crisis deepening, the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, announced that there were to be severe cuts to the national roads programme – as reported on 9 December 2009, The Irish TimesMajor road plans put on hold due to cutbacks.

MORE THAN a decade of budget allocations to begin major road schemes is expected to come to a close today, when reductions in annual funding for the National Roads Authority (NRA) are announced by Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan. For the first time since December 1999 the roads authority is not planning to match its budget allocation with early announcements of new road schemes to go to construction within 12 months.

The N2 Ahsbourne to Ardee, which is to link on both north and south ends of the Slane bypass, was “suspended,” but the bypass itself has miraculously kept its funding.

15 December 2010 – Public consultation for Slane bypass begins

The following week, on 15 December 2009, a public notice announcing the selection of the preferred route for the N2 Slane bypass, and the Compulsory Purchase Order for the land along the route, was published in national newspapers. No opposition whatsoever was reported in the media.

21 January 2010 – RTE reports ‘Slane bypass would run close to Newgrange’

In fact, the Slane bypass story didn’t even make it into the national news until a month after the public notice appeared on 15 December, when RTE reported on it on 21 January 2010 – Slane bypass would run close to Newgrange.

The National Roads Authority has given details of plans for the new Slane bypass, which would be built 500m from the World Heritage Site at Newgrange. While the plan has been welcomed locally, it is expected that there will be controversy.

Even An Taisce, the (so-called) Tational Trust for Ireland,  were quoted in The Irish Times on 22nd of January as supporting the route.

Brian Taylor, spokesman for An Taisce in Meath and a resident of Slane said: “I’d be very reluctant about anything that might hold up that road. It has been several years in the offing and it has gone through numerous public presentations and the route chosen appears to be the least offensive [one].”

The Irish Times also reported that:

THE NATIONAL Roads Authority has confirmed that the proposed route of the bypass of Slane village will pass some 500 metres “from the perimeter” of the buffer zone of the Brú na Bóinne Unesco World Heritage Site. The road, which will be a dual carriageway, will have “the least impact” taking all factors into consideration, including the archaeology and heritage of the area, a spokesman said.

Clearly, the initial publicity about the bypass was stirred by the pro-Bypass campaign and Fianna Fail – as well as the NRA – not the objectors, as one would have expected. None had yet appeared publicly, nor were any quoted in any initial media reports.

22 January – Save Newgrange campaign begins.

The Save Newgrange campaign was immediately launched on 22 January 2010 when Professor George Eogan, Professor Emeritus at University College Dublin, expressed outrage at the preferred route of the proposed bypass – and made a submission to An Bord Pleanala., in late January 2010. He said:

If this plan goes ahead, it will have a significant impact on the landscape and will result in the World Heritage Site being boxed in between two motorways, the M1 and the M2.

500 metres is simply too close, and it is conceivable that Newgrange could lose its World Heritage Status, if this plan goes ahead, like Dresden did last summer.

They should simply ban HGVs from the town. There is simply no need to spend all this money or to do all this damage.

A letter to the Editor of The Irish Times, on 26 January 2o10, by Vincent Salafia , refuted the claims made by the NRA, that the proposed route would have “the least impact”, saying:

This is not true and there is no doubt that a western bypass would have a much lesser impact, as the proposed dual carriageway will sever the World Heritage Site from the village of Slane, and box it in between the M2 motorway and a dual carriageway.

Dr Edgar Morgenroth, associate research professor and co-ordinator of the Transport and Infrastructure Research Programme at the Economic and Social Research Institute noted: “It is remarkable that there are plans to facilitate the avoidance of the toll on the M1 by building a bypass around Slane involving the expensive construction of a bridge over the river Boyne when a simple HGV ban would solve the local traffic problems” (Opinion, April 24th, 2009).

Meath councillors voted in 2009 “to ban HGVs going through Slane because of the dangerous and steep incline from the bridge on the N2 into the village.” (Home News, July 16th, 2009).

The county manager has failed implement the ban, which would have been the solution with the “least impact”. The next best option would have been a western bypass, but instead the NRA has chosen the route with the most impact.

A Facebook group was set up, and went over 5,000 members in one week. A new Facebook page has now been set up for increased traffic.

17 February 2010 – Submissions made to An Bord Pleanala

Save Newgrange included the comments made by Dr Morgenroth regarding the lack of sound economic basis for the N2 Slane bypass in their submission to An Bord Pleanala, made on 17 February 2010.  An Bord Pleanala was already legally on notice of the expert opinion of Dr Morgenroth, long before he repeated those comments in his August blog, which were then re-reported as news. More critically, the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, the NRA, and Meath County Council were also on legal notice of his expert opinion, before the decision was made to re-allocate funding was made in May 2009. Certainly, long before the NRA and Meath County Council decided to proceed with the CPO and publish the route, in December 2009.

12 March 2010 – Fianna Fail Oireachtas Press Office makes false press release

Suzanne Collins, Byrne, who works in Fianna Fail “HQ” press office at the Oireachtas, sent out a press release on the afternoon of Friday, 12 March, 2010, entitled, ‘Byrne expresses disappointment at High Court challenge to Slane Bypass’. The release condemned Save Newgrange spokesman, Vincent Salafia, for supposedly launching a legal action that very day. However, there was no such legal action taken, or announced by Mr Salafia or anyone associated with the Save Newgrange campaign.

For immediate release
12 March 2010

Byrne expresses disappointment at High Court challenge to Slane Bypass

Meath East Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne has expressed his disappointment at the High Court challenge to the Slane Bypass.

“The Slane Bypass will be subject to a High Court challenge on Monday the 15th of March, enforcing yet another delay on progressing the project.”

“The challenge is being led by Vincent Salafia who also objected to the M3 motorway. Mr. Salafia is objecting on the grounds that the planned Slane Bypass would pass too close to the Newgrange site.”

“This is inaccurate. The planned bypass would pass close to the buffer zone that protects Newgrange. The Slane Bypass is no threat to Newgrange.”

“Slane urgently needs a bypass. It is a matter of road safety,” concluded Deputy Byrne.

ENDS

The story broke and was featured on RTE Drive Time radio show that afternoon, with Mr Salafia being and the Save Newgrange campaign being condemned for taking legal action. This story was a pure fabrication by the Fianna Fail press office. No action or announcement by Vincent Salafia had ever been made in relation to filing a legal action. When asked to explain the release, Ms Collins said it was a ‘mistake’.

After his election to TD in 2007, Thomas Byrne thanked Suzanne Collins, along with the press staff of the Fianna Fail; press office:

FF HQ top brass Sean Dorgan, Charlie McConalogue, Olivia Buckley, and PJ Mara and Suzanne Collins did their bit. PJ addressed me three months ago as “Future Deputy Byrne”, so there was pressure!

14 June 2010 – Planning board seeks further information on western route and Bru na Boinne

It was reported on 14 June 2010 in The Irish Times that An Bord Pleanála considering an alternative route for Slane bypass west of village, after asking for further information on certain aspects of the Environmental Impact Statement, which were not considered complete, by the board:

The council, which is acting as agent for the National Roads Authority, has now been asked to furnish 12 points of additional information to “clarify” its environmental impact statement (EIS), to assist the appeals board in adjudicating on the scheme.

Seeking details of any alternative route, the board said: “If such a route has not been examined, a desktop study and drawings are required of a potential route to the west of Slane to the same level of detail as the routes examined [but not chosen].”

Referring to a statement in the EIS that the route selection for the Slane bypass “has been influenced by its potential for future inclusion in a longer [dual-carriageway] route between Ashbourne and Ardee, the board wants more information on this plan.

“The non-technical summary of the EIS should be expanded to include an illustration of the proposed bridge, a map showing alternative routes considered for the road and a map/aerial photograph showing the route in relation to the world heritage site”.

It is also seeking details – “with drawings as appropriate” – of alternative designs examined for the proposed bridge over the Boyne, which has been criticised by objectors as unnecessarily intrusive in the context of the landscape of Brú na Bóinne.

2 July 2010 – Lord Henry Mountcharles condemns western route for bypass 500m from Slane Castle

So, instead of passing within 500m of Bru na Boinne, UNESCO World Heritage Site, the N2 Slane bypass may now pass to the west of the village, within 500m of Slane Castle – much to the chagrin of Lord Henry Mountcharles, concert promoter and owner of Slane Castle.

He was quoted in The Irish Times on 2 July 2010 as saying:

“If they think I am a pushover they have another thing coming. ”  According to Sir Henry serious questions have to be answered about “a planning process that can take us back to stage one again and delay the building of the road.Meath County Council discounted this route years ago based on its feasibility study. To propose this now is nothing short of lunacy.”

So, it is OK for the bypass to run 500m from a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it is not OK to run the same road 500m from a field belonging to an English castle?

5 July 2010 – More cuts to national roads programme, but not Slane bypass

More severe cuts were made to the national roads programme, in July 2010. The Irish Independent reported on 06 July 2010, Key road and rail projects axed as money runs out:

FORTY major road projects and key rail and Luas projects have been scrapped because there is no money to build them. The National Roads Authority (NRA) has run out of money to build the 40 roads, which include bypasses and dual carriageways. It has been “directed” by the Government not to build the remaining rest areas along motorways, sources revealed. The axed projects will be confirmed in a government mid-term review of the National Development Plan (NDP), which is expected to be completed within weeks.

The mid-term review of the NDP has not taken place. But it is important to put the NDP into perspective, along with the roads programme – Coalition to dangle a €175bn vote-getter – Irish Independent – 22 January 2007.

2 September 2010 – Fianna Fail to close Navan hospital

Even the dogs on the streets of Navan have known since 2007 that Fianna Fail plans to close Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, Co Meath; when staff were told that Surgery services are to cease immediately, and A&E and Psychiatric services will go before 2012. On 2 September 2010, the Health Service Executive (HSE) announced that all acute and emergency surgery was to end at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, with immediate effect.

The move was criticized on an economic basis by Dr Muiris Houston in The Irish Times, who said the Navan move may only offer short-term savings.

CONCLUSION

Bypass Slane campaign is a Fianna Fail election cow

The pro-Slane bypass campaign in County Meath is being orchestrated by Fianna Fail – and the mailing address is: “Bypass Slane Campaign, c/o Slane Community Forum, The Village Inn, Slane, Co. Meath.” Cllr Harding’s address, listed on his web site, is: “The Village Inn, Main Street, Slane , Co. Meath”  The Meath Chronicle, election profile for Mr Harding states:

Runs his family pub, The Village Inn, in heart of Slane village. Married with one son. Secretary of Slane Community Forum, which aims to promote and develop the community of Slane in a positive and proactive manner. Former chairman of Slane GFC. Says aim is to ensure people of Slane Electoral Area are provided with employment, necessary services and clean environment.

The Bypass Slane campaign was dreamt up by Fianna Fail “HQ” Press Office, like people like Suzanne Collins and PJ Mara,  to help elect Fianna Fail candidates in Meath, like Wayne Harding, in the June 2009 local elections, and is seen as a key facet of the upcoming 2012 General Election campaign for Meath Fianna Fail.

Don’t believe the hype.

This is an outrageous waste of taxpayers time and money. Who dictates transport policy in Ireland? The local Slane Fianna Fail Cumann or the Department of Transport? Dr Morgenroth advised against funding the Slane Bypass in The Irish Times in April 2004 2009, at the same time that the NRA informed Meath County Councillors that it was withdrawing funding from the project, because resources were needed for more nationally important road schemes. Somebody went against the advice of both Dr Morgenroth and the NRA, and decided to fund the bypass anyway. That was a political decision, in favour of Fianna Fail, not an economic one, made on solid economic or environmental grounds.

The Bypass Slane Campaign is not now campaigning to have the HGV ban introduced in Slane. In fact, they have been opposing it, ever since the day it was voted for. It is in fact what sparked their formation, as the decision to implement ban seemed to indicate that the bypass was not needed.  In their submission to An Bord Pleanala they now state that they only want it implemented “in conjunction with the Bypass”.  The next death or serious injury in Slane due to HGVs will be on their shoulders, along with Tom Dowling, the Meath County Manager and Noel Dempsey, the Minister for Meath.

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