THE TOWN of Drogheda on the border of Meath and Louth is to be split by the proposed Dublin Transport Authority (DTA), with only land south of the Boyne being part of the new body's remit, it has emerged.
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey yesterday acknowledged the problem, but said the new body was a transport authority for the Greater Dublin Area, which included Meath, but not Louth.
Opposition politicians claimed the move means a proposed increase of 15,000 people to the north of Drogheda town, in south Co Louth, will not be covered by the new authority. Nor would recent developments in north Drogheda, or suggested developments along the Dublin-Belfast Corridor in Co Louth.
Speaking at an Oireachtas Transport Committee meeting yesterday Opposition spokesmen Fergus O'Dowd (FG) and Tommy Broughan (Lab) insisted the land use and transportation aspects of the new Bill, under which the DTA would have oversight of local authority development plans, would operate only up as far as the Boyne, but would be silent on developments beyond that point.
Mr O'Dowd said the move would in particular have serious implications for a future extension of the Dart to Drogheda. On the area being incorporated at a later date he told the Minister: "We are making legislation now, you are the executive authority".
Mr Broughan said Dublin Institute of Technology population projections saw the addition of about one million people on the Dublin-Belfast Corridor and history had shown that planning authorities would go out of their way to avoid imposing a public transport obligation on developers.
Mr Dempsey said he had no objection to Louth County Council seeking permission from the Minister for the Environment to leave the Border, Midlands and Western Region, and join the Greater Dublin Area, which would bring them into the remit of the new transport authority. But he refused amendments to the DTA Bill to include Co Louth when the authority is set up later this year.
Mr Dempsey said the new transport authority would have power to regulate all public transport which began in the Greater Dublin Area and ended outside it, or vice versa, which would go some way towards addressing the problem.