THERE IS no immediate danger posed to the Brú na Bóinne site in Co Meath by plans to build a bypass of Slane village, according to a world heritage expert.
However, Dr Douglas Comer warned the project would be another intrusion on the site and if there were others in the future, they could undermine its designation as a world heritage site of outstanding universal value.
Dr Comer was replying to questions from Gerry Browner, senior architect with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, on the seventh day of an oral hearing by An Bord Pleanála into plans by Meath County Council for the bypass.
The proposed 3.5km dual carriageway, including a new bridge over the Boyne east of the village, would pass within 500 metres of a buffer zone around Brú na Bóinne which includes the ancient burial sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
Supporters of the project claim the bypass and bridge are urgently needed to improve safety for locals in Slane, which has been the scene of at least 22 fatal road crashes.
Opponents say the new road and bridge would have a detrimental effect on the local landscape, especially the archaeological sites. Dr Comer said some features already intruded into the site, such as the M1 motorway and Boyne bridge, the cement factory chimneys at Platin and the new Indaver incinerator at Carranstown, Duleek.
He said if the bypass got the go-ahead, Unesco’s world heritage committee would likely send a fact-finding reactive monitoring mission to assess its impact on the Brú na Bóinne site. The committee might then decide there had been no deterioration to the site, place it on a list of endangered sites, or delist it.
Mr Browner added that the department had already received a yellow card from Unesco over the incinerator.