THE National Roads Authority (NRA) believes planning permission should be refused for 1,210 houses on the outskirts of Cork City because it would lead to even further traffic congestion at the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle interchange.
Dermot Flanagan, for the NRA, said one of the main reasons an Bord Pleanála refused the Port of Cork permission for a new container terminal at Ringaskiddy was because the extra traffic it would generate would have had a major impact on the already overloaded interchange.
Mr Flanagan said that traffic generated by O’Flynn Construction’s proposal to build a large number of houses at Dunkettle should be viewed in the same light and therefore permission should be refused.
"Unless you can guarantee no effect you are into the realms of the unknown on a critical piece of infrastructure which is at, or over,capacity," he told Bord Pleanála inspector Pauline Fitzpatrick at an oral hearing yesterday.
The hearing was supposed to take place last July. However, David Holland, acting for O’Flynn Construction, pointed out that it was postponed because the NRA wanted more time to prepare a new design for the interchanges.
Mr Holland said, eight months on, the NRA is still in the process of carrying out a "feasibility study" into planning the design project.
Pat Lyons, a senior planner with Cork County Council, said the developer’s decision to provide creches, a community centre and recreational facilities would provide the site with a "core identity".
He said O’Flynn Construction also intended to put on a local shuttle bus service and had set aside land for a 16-classroom primary school.
Mr Lyons said he felt the project adhered to the Cork Area Strategic Plan (CASP) and the council’s local area plans and thus "was in keeping with proper planning and sustainable development".
Meanwhile, the NRA indicated yesterday it isn’t in favour of the county council’s plans for revamping roads in the area, especially around the eastern end of the Tivoli dual carriageway.
The NRA believes these plans are premature, as it has not completed its design for upgrading the Dunkettle/Jack Lynch Tunnel interchanges, which are used by 83,000 vehicles every day.
The local authority wants to remove the roundabout at Dunkettle and replace it with traffic lights.
Mr Lyons said it was hoped to begin construction on that project next September and complete it in 2012.
Dr Jervis Good of the National Parks and Wildlife Service said it was proposed that the Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds in Cork harbour be extended to include Dunkettle mudflats and the Glashaboy estuary, which are adjacent to the O’Flynn Construction site.
Speaking on day two of the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing, Dr Good said around 100 cormorants roost in Glanmire Wood and the roosting area would have to be fenced off if it was disturbed too much.
Dr Good also proposed fencing off areas of theupper salt marshes so feeding otters wouldn’t be disturbed.
Sharon Casey, the county council’s heritage officer, said new planting should take place in the area to maintain the resident bat community.
The hearing was told the council’s conservation officer, Mona Hallinan, had some concerns about the conservation of Dunkettle House, which is to be turned into offices.
However, following reassurances from the developer about future funding for its maintenance it was decided to allow work on the protected building to proceed, providing 12 conditions attached to the planning permission were adhered to.
The oral hearing continues today at the Rochestown Park Hotel.
Mr Holland said he would be calling up to 10 expert witnesses to speak on behalf of O’Flynn Construction and their testimony was likely to take two days.