A FATHER of five who fought a compulsory purchase order on his land has been left with a €40,000 bill which he claims the National Roads Authority had said it would pay.
Tadhg O'Scannail (50) from Gorey, Co Wexford, decided to fight the NRA's bid to secure part of his land under a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for a controversial motorway truck stop in the area. He claims he was told his costs for an engineer and a solicitor would be covered by the NRA in the event of any effort to block the CPO.
But the NRA says it never made any such promise and that in the end his land wasn't even wanted. "I am a self-employed plumber," O'Scannail said. "My wife is a nurse who has been hit by all these levies. I don't have a penny and I have three kids in school, one doing the Junior Cert and one starting first year next year.
"It's taken me 10 years to get the house the way it is and it's still not finished. My property is devalued by the economic climate anyway and who is going to buy a house beside a service area?
"This was supposed to be my pension and security for my children but now we are stuck behind a truck stop."
According to O'Scannail, the NRA told him his costs would be covered, or partly covered, in the event that his land became the subject of a CPO.
He incurred various costs including €25,000 for an engineer, €11,000 for a sound engineer, and €5,000 for a barrister to represent him at an oral hearing.
However, the NRA later notified him that a CPO would not be required on his land following a reassessment of the project. "I have been told nothing. We had to make a passionate plea to the inspector in An Bord Pleanála to ask if he would make a recommendation to cover the costs. They are under no legal requirement to do so," said O'Scannail.
"My whole problem is the unfair manner in which we have been dealt with. [The NRA] have misrepresented themselves on a number of occasions. But the NRA says any decision to incur costs before the official CPO process was initiated was "his responsibility". Its spokesman said that a 'notice to treat', which makes the CPO process official, was never furnished and that the decision not to take the land was communicated as soon as they knew.