A long-awaited bypass planned for Galway city will be set back for years after Bord Pleanala only granted permission for a portion of the route.
In a split decision yesterday, the board gave permission for part of the road leading from the entrance to the city coming from Dublin to the main Clifden road via a bridge spanning the River Corrib, but refused permission for the remainder of the scheme to Barna.
An Bord Pleanala decided that the construction of an 8km section of the 21km road would cause too much destruction to a local bog, and refused permission.
Planners will now have to go back to the drawing board and find a new route for the troubled 8km section.
"We'll have to look at what our options are going to be," Galway County Council senior engineer Jack Eising said last night. "We've got approval for a good part of the scheme and will seek funding.
"It runs through a bog which is a natural heritage area and where Slender Cotton Grass grows, which is protected. There would be other route alignments but they would have impacts on housing.
"That section (which is approved) on it's own still has merit. We'll take the part that's granted," he added.
Planners proposed building a 21km dual carriageway linking the existing R336 at New Village, west of Barna, to the proposed N6 Dublin to Ballinasloe dual carriageway, north west of Oranmore. The plan included construction of a new bridge over the River Corrib, north of Menlo Castle.
While the green light was given to the development from Garraun to Gortacleva, planning officials refused to grant permission for the bypass from Gortacleva to An Baile Nua, including the Western Distributor connection, as it would cut through Thonabrucky Bog.
Local Fianna Fail TD Frank Fahey, who has been a long-time supporter of the bypass, slammed the board's decision saying it was "crazy" considering that most of the objectors were not even living in the city.
"The main objectors at the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing are not even resident in the city, yet their actions will result in seriously negative implications for people travelling into the city every day," he said.
"Of course I have shared some of the concerns expressed about the ecological impact that this bypass will have on certain areas, but I am more concerned about the residents of the city and the impact this will have on them, not to mention the economic toll it will take on the city," he added.
Paul Melia and Marie Madde