Listowel voices its opposition to bypass plan
LISTOWEL people opposed to the bypass plans outlined their concerns clearly in closing statements before last week’s oral hearing held by An Bord Pleanála in the Listowel Arms.
Concerns range from the impact on trade to road safetyfears, the impact on wildlife and natural amenities like the Sadhbh walk, the splitting of communities it’s proposed to push through and much else.
Listowel Anti-Bypass Committee member Andrea Taylor said: “I totally reject the argument made by Kerry County Council regarding the protection of wildlife...and the blatant disregard shown for the North Kerry landscape...I say stop the proposed N69 bypass and promote North Kerry for the beautiful place it most certainly is.”
Jackie Barrett for Concerned Residents of Ballygologue Park:”We’re not convinced that this is a bypass that’s going to be safe; that we want this level of traffic...we don’t want it and you’re wronging the people of Listowel to go ahead with it.”
Local trader and anti-bypass committee member Damian Stack: “There are numerous experts here today who’ve drawn up these plans...people who don’t live in Listowel..you will all go back to your jobs and we’ll still be here suffering the consequences.
“As for the concern over the Forge Road - when something goes wrong who is going to be held responsible?”
North Kerry Tourism Forum Chairman John O’Sullivan said:
“One of the most pressing problems (as shown in Council documentation) is the concentration of deprivation in North Kerry, especially in its principal towns of Tralee, Listowel and Castleisland.
“Beside the obvious, what does this indicate? It indicates there’s very little slippage room in North Kerry if a project like this bypass has a negative economic impact... listening to the arguments here I think much more economic analysis is needed before it can go ahead.”
“Listowel is designated a hub for North Kerry in the tourism strategy. If it is bypassed will that have an impact on tourists not visiting Listowel with a knock-on effect on the rest of North Kerry?” he asked.
Christina O’Connor spoke on behalf of the residents of the Forge Road saying the bypass would effectively split the Forge Road community in two.
“We are asking this hearing to refuse the proposed severance of Forge Road...[the bypass] will mean a major risk of accidents.”
Ms O’Connor also questioned what she described as the ‘logic’ of the argument that the road would reduce traffic in the more populated area of the town centre:
“This bypass will redirect pollution to the rural countryside in which we live. On the basis of evidence heard here it is clear the bypass would pose a heightened risk to safety.
“We are a very community-conscious road. We assist our neighbours. At times of heavy weather you often hear people urged to help their neighbours.
“But the lower part of our road comprised of elderly residents would be cut from the upper part of our road...this is not acceptable,” Ms O’Connor said.
Local man Matt Mooney raised the issue of the impact on the Sadhbh walk and local wildlife - in particular the impact of the bypass on the seasonal residents of hooper swan on the western outskirts of Listowel. “It is a crying shame to interfere with the migration of hooper swans which come from Iceland each year in a fantastic addition to the natural life here in Kerry that’s so important to us,” Mr Mooney said, also citing evidence Tralee’s owl population suffered from its bypass. Pixie Gorman and John Healy also outlined their concerns over the bypass, questioning official figures relating to the number of traffic through the town each day.
Dermot Flanagan SC made the case for the bypass in the closing statement stage of the hearing on Thursday, arguing that if a ‘do-nothing’ approach was adopted Listowel would face serious traffic difficulties in the near future: “It is not the function of the infrastructure to take the life out of Listowel. It is about giving life back to Listowel,” Mr Flanagan said.
“There will be very significant levels of traffic moving through in a do-nothing scenario,” he warned, referring to project population growth figures cited previously at the hearing. Mr Flanagan said the proposal strikes a balance between competing interests of managing traffic and protecting the ‘precious culture’ of the literary heritage town.
Members of the Anti-Bypass committee in Listowel outside the Arms Hotel where last week’s oral hearing was heard. Front: Andrea Taylor and Denis Carroll. Back, from left: Brian Finucane, Angela Moloney, Matt Mooney, Ross Walsh and Michelle Whelan. INSET: The bypass as it skirts north of Greenville en route to the John B Keane Road.