Tuesday 7 July 2009

Metro rail delay as board seeks new details

AN BORD Pleanála is now unlikely to make a decision on the Dublin Metro North project until early next year following its request for a raft of further information on the project from its promoters, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA).

An RPA spokesman has conceded that the board’s request will result in a delay in determining its Railway Order application, but he said the agency would work hard to meet the October 1st deadline for submitting the new information.

Apart from seeking further details about the impact on “sensitive” properties such as the Rotunda and Mater hospitals, the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green and Corpus Christi National School in Drumcondra, the board wants to know more about many aspects of the project.

It complains that the RPA’s application for a Railway Order as well as the format of the original environmental impact statement (EIS) “make it very difficult for the public and affected parties to determine specific impacts of the proposed development” on particular properties.

The board’s request, which runs to 32 pages, requires the RPA to submit environmental reports on the likely effects arising from the construction and operation of the proposed metro line for 10 “sensitive receptors”, including specific mitigation measures in each case.

It also notes that the EIS, prepared by consultants, “does not address” the likely adverse environmental impacts from the diversion of utilities – electricity, gas, telecom and sewer lines – along the 18km route between Lissenhall, north of Swords, and St Stephen’s Green.

The board also wants an environmental assessment of the impacts of utility works in Ballymun as well as Parnell Square, O’Connell Bridge and St Stephen’s Green.

“Plans and details of the existing and proposed arrangements of utilities are requested. In addition, clear timeframes for the utilities works must also be included,” the board said. All utilities to be protected or diverted away from excavation areas are to be identified.

Dealing with archaeology, the planning board wants a geophysical survey of the area of St Stephen’s Green (“an important national monument”) that would be affected by metro construction works, with an assessment of the archaeological issues to be resolved.

Noting that the metro depot would be located on the site of Belinstown Castle, near Swords, it seeks a geophysical survey as well as test-trenching – with the results to be submitted to the board along with plans to preserve, record or protect archaeological materials.

The board is also seeking more information about flood risk assessment, park-and-ride sites, the impact of constructing a “cut-and-cover” tunnel through Ballymun, noise and traffic, and electromagnetic interference with sensitive hospital equipment.

Irish Times


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