A CLAIM by An Taisce president Eanna Ní Leamhna that a new €150 million bypass must be built between Tralee and Killarney because too many houses have been erected on the existing road was confirmed by Kerry County Council yesterday.
Ms Ní Leamhna, addressing a public meeting in Killarney, said houses had been built from end to end of the busy road.
“These houses have not been put there by planners, but have been voted through by councillors who ignored the advice of their planners and passed Section 4 motions,” she said.
“The result of all that is the road can’t be widened and a new road must be built.”
A council spokesman said engineers had looked at the possibility of widening and upgrading the existing Killarney/Farranfore road, but ruled it out because there were too many houses, exits and entrances.
However, there are big delays in building the long-awaited bypass as money is being diverted by the National Roads Authority to major inter-city routes and roads in the east cast.
Compulsory land purchase may not be completed until 2010 and it could be many years before the 27km Kerry road is completed.
Ms Ní Leamhna clashed with Kerry Mayor Michael Healy-Rae who said he was “very proud and glad” that Section 4 motions moved by himself, his father and his brother had enabled people to live along the Tralee/Killarney road.
Mr Healy-Rae launched a forceful attack on An Taisce, claiming it was a “secretive” organisation which meddled and interfered with young people who wished to build houses on their family farms.
But this was firmly rejected by Ms Ní Leamhna who said An Taisce was an open organisation which anyone was welcome to join.
Questioning the need for all the new houses, she said the last census had shown 25% of all houses in Kerry were empty. She also denied An Taisce interfered in the planning system, saying it was trying to protect the environment.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Irish Rural Dwellers’ Association (IRDA), Michael Doyle, announced a day of protest outside Kerry County Council headquarters, in Tralee, to highlight difficulties people have in getting planning permission.
“We want to concentrate the minds of politicians, the county manager and planners on problems experienced by people in rural Kerry,” said Mr Doyle, from Beaufort, Co Kerry.