A GROUP which lobbied against the Slane bypass because of its impact on the Brú na Bóinne heritage site has welcomed a decision by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to suspend its development.
Mr Varadkar recently said no new road projects were to start in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and only six projects already under way would be completed this year. The Minister has instructed the National Roads Authority to bring all road projects in planning to the end of their current planning stage and then suspend them with a view to reopening them in the future.
Only the N25 Cork SRR interchanges, the N3 Belturbet bypass, the N5 Longford bypass, the N22 Tralee bypass, the N4 Downs Grade Separation and the N52 Carrickbridge to Dalystown will go ahead this year.
The Slane bypass had been the subject of an oral hearing and is currently under consideration by An Bord Pleanála.
Local residents in Slane had lobbied for its construction because of the high level of road deaths on and around the town’s bridge. However heritage groups had expressed outrage at the choice of route for the bypass, which brought it close to Brú na Bóinne, a Unesco world heritage site.
Vincent Salafia, spokesman for Save Newgrange, said the group was relieved by confirmation that the Slane bypass was among the projects suspended.
“The county council’s own expert, along with numerous internationally renowned experts, advised against the proposed route because of the damage it would do to the world heritage site,” he said.
He called on Meath County Council, the National Roads Authority and the Minister to work together to implement a HGV ban in the village.In a statement yesterday, the Department of Transport said it would be “reckless and irresponsible to spend €20-€30 million a year” to bring roads projects on to their next planning stage when there was no money to build them and they were “struggling to find adequate funds to maintain existing roads”.
The same decision was taken for the Luas BXD, Metro North and Dart Underground projects on which €200 million had been spent.