CONSTRUCTION of a super prison in north Dublin could be delayed because the EU Commission wants a detailed assessment conducted on the impact it would have on the environment and local community.
If the Government is forced to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as required by EU law, it could delay construction of the jail by a year - and could sound the death knell for the ambitious plans.
There was confusion last night among the state agencies involved in the prison development as to what was required to meet EU rules.
The Departments of Justice and Environment, and the Irish Prison Service, disagreed on what measures were needed to carry out a full investigation of the site and satisfy the EU.
Fine Gael Justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe said Justice Minister Brian Lenihan needed to clarify the position.
"The whole situation seems mired in confusion," he said. "I've been worried about this from the beginning, and I don't want this compounded by total bureaucratic confusion and possibly the courts. They need to clarify the position," he said. An EIA measures the impact major developments have on roads, wildlife, water and the local community.
The lengthy study can take up to a year and it could find that the proposed site is unsuitable. If so, the project might have to be scrapped.