THE Hill of Tara can become a UNESCO World Heritage site -- even with a motorway running alongside it.
International experts have told Environment Minister John Gormley that the controversial M3 motorway under construction should not stop Ireland's richest archaeological site from joining the Acropolis, Vatican City and Taj Mahal as having "outstanding universal value".
Mr Gormley is to recommend that the Tara Skryne Valley in Co Meath be awarded World Heritage status, and will shortly undertake a conservation plan which will stop any future commercial development in the valley.
It is likely that one-off housing applications will be considered, but shopping centres, large-scale housing estates and other commercial developments will not be allowed.
Addressing the International Council on Monuments and Sites last night, Mr Gormley said that Dr Jukka Jokilehto did not see the motorway as excluding the Co Meath site from attaining world heritage status.
"I find his remarks very encouraging and it is my view that this site would be a contender for possible World Heritage site."