Cllr: Alternative M20 route does not make social, economic or environmental sense
A CORK county councillor has described as “alarming” a plan to conduct roadside interviews and surveys around Mallow and Mitchelstown as part of a review into the proposed M20 Cork-Limerick motorway scheme.
Cllr Gearóid Murphy said that while hopes were high that the project would be included in an announcement on the government’s Capital Spending Plan expected in November, he was concerned that Mitchelstown was being surveyed.
His comments have come following recent speculation that the original plan to run the M20 through Mallow may be shelved in favour of a proposal to re-route it along part of the M8 as far as Tipperary.
Cllr Murphy, who was co-opted onto the council’s Kanturk/Mallow district committee earlier this year, said the importance of going ahead with the original route “could not be understated”.
“This route is the only one that makes sense from many perspectives – be they social, economic or environmental. Connecting Cork and Limerick by building a motorway through the less populous East Limerick would reduce Ireland’s motorway programme to a mere box-ticking exercise and give the lie to any claims by the government of ‘rural-proofing’ its policies,” he said.
“Not only would the towns directly along the motorway be left out in the cold, but so would communities across the entire region of north-west Cork as well as people and businesses based in west Limerick wishing to access the Republic’s second city.”
Cllr Murphy pointed out that 12% of the working population of the Kanturk/Mallow area work in Cork City, with a further 7% travelling outside of the county to get to their workplace.
“Property prices and rental pressures in the cities make this an economically sensible choice, while social and family connections to their home communities and the freedom of a less urban setting help to alleviate the inconveniences of a daily commute. Good transport links connecting larger towns such as Mallow and Charleville with nearby cities are essential to make life outside the city a viable option for these people,” he said.
Cllr Murphy said the economic case for following the original route was a “perhaps the most obvious of all” saying a motorway between Mitchelstown and Limerick City would provide “virtually none of the benefits” to the local economy that a motorway through Mallow and Charleville would.
“Mallow has the largest employment base in the region and the potential for further growth with the addition of a motorway is clear. Meanwhile, Charleville is the only other town in north Cork with a population of over 3,000 not serviced by a motorway.”
He concluded by saying that the direct Mallow/Charleville route would also be more environmentally friendly as the Mitchelstown route would add at least a further 10km to the journey between Cork and Limerick.
“Aside from the costs to motorists it would increase the carbon footprint of commuters between the two cities at a time when Ireland is struggling to meet our international emissions,” said Cllr Murphy.
He said for these reasons any alternative to the original plan for the M20 would be unacceptable.
“While it is vital this project goes ahead it is equally important that, as with any major capital project, it is done right. The government simply cannot cut corners in the interest of short-term saving, which would lead to long-term cost through missed opportunities in north Cork.”
Cllr Gearóid Murphy.