Sunday 20 June 2010

Appeals board to look at Slane bypass

AN BORD Pleanála has asked Meath County Council to supply detailed additional information on the proposed N2 Slane bypass – including whether any alternative route west of the village had been examined.

The current proposal, which includes a new bridge over the river Boyne, runs to the east of Slane and has proved controversial because this would bring it close to the Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex – a designated Unesco World Heritage Site.

The council, which is acting as agent for the National Roads Authority, has now been asked to furnish 12 points of additional information to “clarify” its environmental impact statement (EIS), to assist the appeals board in adjudicating on the scheme.

Seeking details of any alternative route, the board said: “If such a route has not been examined, a desktop study and drawings are required of a potential route to the west of Slane to the same level of detail as the routes examined [but not chosen].”

Referring to a statement in the EIS that the route selection for the Slane bypass “has been influenced by its potential for future inclusion in a longer [dual-carriageway] route between Ashbourne and Ardee, the board wants more information on this plan.

“The non-technical summary of the EIS should be expanded to include an illustration of the proposed bridge, a map showing alternative routes considered for the road and a map/aerial photograph showing the route in relation to the world heritage site”.

It is also seeking details – “with drawings as appropriate” – of alternative designs examined for the proposed bridge over the Boyne, which has been criticised by objectors as unnecessarily intrusive in the context of the landscape of Brú na Bóinne.

The board’s request said it considered that the photomontages in the EIS are “not of sufficient scale” to enable it to “fully assess the landscape and visual impacts of the proposed development”, and more high-quality photomontages are required.

These should include views from the Hill of Slane looking east, the Knowth prehistoric site at both ground level and from the top of this monument, and existing and proposed views from the river valley 300 metres east of the planned Boyne bridge. The board also wants A3-size photomontages of views of the bridge from Knowth, the Hill of Slane, the Battle of the Boyne crossing point at Rosnaree, poet Francis Ledwidge’s cottage, and a typical point within the world heritage site buffer zone.

It has also asked the council to provide a report of “all geophysical and archaeological investigations carried out for the purpose of route selection and impact identification” to clarify the extent of land subject to surveying, field walking and excavation.

The council has been given a deadline of next Monday to respond.

Irish Times

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