Lis­towel voices its op­po­si­tion to by­pass plan

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By DÓNAL NOLAN

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 Lis­ 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.

Photo by Dom­nick Walsh

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....

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