A GROUP of residents in Sandyford, Co Dublin, have expressed dismay at the transformation of a green recreational area in their estate into a compound for M50 topsoil.
Concerned residents in Sandyford's Moreen and Blackthorn estates say that a large temporary fence is being erected in the green recreation area used by the 300 houses in the estate.
Up to this point the green area had a cycle track, daffodils and trees and had been well-maintained by a local residents' group and the owners of the land, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, said Joanna Tonge, from a local residents' group.
The move also came as a surprise to local councillors Lettie McCarthy (Labour) and Tom Joyce (FG), especially since plans had been lodged by Landmark Developments to build a community centre on the site.
"It's fair to say it was poorly handled by all concerned," said Ms McCarthy. "The first I heard was when I got calls from residents and that is not how it should be done."
"There's a real problem with the manner in which it was done and local representatives weren't told about it," said Mr Joyce.
After calls to the council and developers, the residents' group discovered that the land was allocated for the M50 works and was identified in part of an environmental impact statement which was approved by An Bord Pleanála after public consultation in 2005.
Residents and local councillors say they were not aware of the plans. The company contracted by the National Roads Authority, M50 Concession Ltd, has since apologised to the residents for "the oversight in not providing them with the information".
The council said in a statement: "We cannot object to the NRA's use of the site but what the council can and will do is to insist that the area is safe and secure and does not create a nuisance."
The works are set to continue until at least September 2009 and possibly 2010.
"An apology is easy," says Ms Tonge, who remains concerned about the impact of the works, their proximity to the estate and the disruption from hundreds of daily loads of topsoil. The problem of a lack of recreation space remains in an area which has few facilities, she says.
However, the disruption for residents may not end in 2010 as the green area is also part of future plans for the proposed eastern bypass.
The Irish Times