CLARE COUNTY Council has given the go-ahead for Ireland’s largest rail and road museum at Moyasta, west Clare, in spite of concerns by the National Roads Authority (NRA).
The proposal is part of the West Clare Railway tourist attraction which has seen numbers treble since the return of a 115-year-old Slieve Callan steam engine last August.
The museum proposal is the brainchild of entrepreneur and driving force behind plans to rejuvenate the west Clare railway Jackie Whelan.
Mr Whelan said yesterday he hoped to begin work in the next number of months on the museum. “I am delighted. It will be a huge boost to west Clare.”
The sole objector is Moyasta native David Browne, who has said he will appeal to Bord Pleanála any decision to grant permission to the museum..
Mr Whelan also faces the prospect of the NRA lodging an appeal with Bord Pleanála.
The authority has a high rate of success in appealing council decisions, and in its submission it says the project is located on a section of the N67 national road where the maximum speed limit applies.
“Therefore, it would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard and obstruction of road-users due to the movement of the extra traffic generated.
“The proposed development by itself, or by the precedent which the grant of permission for it would set, would adversely affect the use of the national road by traffic.”
Mr Whelan would require permission from the NRA for a rail line to cross the main road linking Kilkee and Kilrush.
He said: “If they allow Luas lines in Dublin, allowing a rail line cross a road in west Clare shouldn’t be a problem.”
Mr Whelan confirmed that he wants to lay down two miles of track over the next two months to Kilkee “and with the good will of the people extend the line eventually to Kilkee and Kilrush”.
In its granting of planning, the council says that no development can take place on the site until such time as permission has been obtained from the Railway Safety Commission.
The planner in the case states that “in terms of visual amenity and rationale for the chosen site, it is considered that on balance, having regard to the nature of the proposal, it would be acceptable”.
The council has granted permission having regard to the zoning of the site, the existing use established on site, the intended use of the proposed building, the policies of the county development plan, and the pattern of development in the area.
The council found that the proposed development would not seriously harm the amenities of the local area or of property in the vicinity.