Sunday 13 June 2010

NRA puts halt on nine 'truck stops'

The National Roads Authority has shelved controversial plans for a series of 'truck stops' around Ireland that local opposition groups say will lead to an increase in crime and shatter local property values.

The stops were designed to provide service facilities to motorists on Ireland's expanding road network, but plans for the service areas (SAs) have been heavily criticised by communities.

Due to special planning laws, the SAs – which include parking, restaurants, showers, toilets, picnic areas and garages – are not dependent on local authority planning, ruling out the first line of defence afforded to concerned communities.

Residents near a proposed site on the N11 in Co Wexford estimated in 2008 that their property values would drop by as much as 75%, although values would have already dropped by now due to market conditions.

Other concerns harboured by those in areas close to the proposed SAs included increased crime levels and visual and noise pollution. "We oppose this on several fronts," Fran Seale of the Ballyellen Action Group told the Sunday Tribune.

"We are talking in excess of 30 acres [for the developments]. We have not seen anything on this scale in Ireland before."

The NRA said that this type of project would always attract local opposition and that everything was being done to listen to concerns.

However, those living in the vicinity of nine of the proposed SAs have had the 'threat' lifted, at least for the time being.

The NRA has said it does not have the finances in place to deliver on all of the plans, with the exception of three sites due to open later this year. A spokesman said: "The rest of them are on hold until funding is put in place."

The SuperStop consortium, which won the contract to run six of the SAs, are now close to finishing the build on the three given the go-ahead.

These are located at Lusk and Castlebellingham on the M1 and at Enfield on the M4, all of which should be open by November.

Sunday Tribune

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