THE ONGOING hearing into the compulsory purchase orders relating to the proposed New Ross bypass could end lead to the European Court of Justice.
That was the news which Mr. Ian Lumley, from An Taisce, relayed to the hearing during its opening day last week. Insp. Dominic Hegarty, from An Bord Pleanála, is overseeing the hearing, which is taking place in the Horse & Hound, Ballinaboola.
The proceedings began on Wednesday morning when representations were made on behalf of Wexford Co. Council. Mr. Lumley told the hearing there were fundamental legal flaws in the proposal. He argued that certain aspects of the proposal were in breach of planning regulations and that others were in breach of EU law.
At times the debate between Mr. Lumley and Insp. Hegarty verged on becoming heated with Insp. Hegarty assuring Mr. Lumley that he would get an opportunity to air his concerns throughout the hearing. Mr. Lumley said there were inaccuracies in the way the proposal was advertised to the public. "This proposal is described as the New Ross bypass," he said.
He then highlighted the fact that major road works had already taken place on the N25 between Glenmore and New Ross and on the eastern bank of the river Barrow in the Wexford Co. Council and New Ross
Town Council areas. "Instead of providing a bridge connection to complete this long planned road bypass alignment, this proposal is in fact a completely separate development," he said. "It is separate to the New Ross bypass and involves over 14.9km of motorway dual carriageway from Glenmore in Co. Kilkenny to Ballymacar Bridge in Co. Wexford," he added.
"Therefore the advertised description of the project as a ‘bypass' is legally incorrect and the project should, accordingly, be re-advertised," told the hearing. Mr. Lumley also said the drawings created for the proposal were not up to the standard required by Article 5.3 of the EIA Directive. Insp. Hegarty said he would take Mr. Lumley's submissions at the appropriate time. However, Mr. Lumley continued with his argument over the legality of the process.
Wexford Co. Council's representatives, who included the Environmental Resource Management Corporation, then argued that the hearing was being held for the purpose of ‘information dissemination'. "There is an element of fact on which submissions are based but information gathering should take place first," argued the Co. Council side. "It is clear that the submission is based on what Mr. Lumley regards as factual details," they added.
Mr. Lumley countered the argument by claiming he was acting in the interests of everybody involved with the matter. "People will be affected by this," he said. "It's an illegal process and there are costs mounting for ordinary people in this and I don't want to see that happen," he added.
He then requested that the hearing be adjourned and when Insp. Hegarty failed to adhere to that request, Mr. Lumley left the building.
Before leaving he said he was going to make a formal complaint to An Bord Pleanála over the manner in which the hearing was being conducted.
It's believed a formal complaint was lodged with An Bord Pleanála with regard to the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposal which it alleges is outside EU law. Mr. Lumley also confirmed that the matter will be pursued to the European Courts even if the EIS statement is accepted by the hearing. The hearing was ongoing as the New Ross Echo went to press yesterday afternoon.