LISTOWEL BYPASS GETS GO-AHEAD
AN Bord Pleanála’s decision this week to grant permission for the Listowel Bypass and the compulsory purchase of land needed for the project has been met with deep disappointment in the town where many are concerned about its impact on everything from trade to the environment.
The decision has been made subject to two key conditions – that the EIS is implemented and public water at Scartlea protected.
The Board arrived at its finding having considered a range of concerns outlined by groups and individuals in submissions to the plan and in direct testimony at an oral hearing held over three days in September. The board ruled that the bypass would not have ‘significant negative effects on the community in the vicinity’.
Kerry County Council can now proceed with the N69 Listowel Bypass Proposed Road Development Compulsory Purchase Order, allowing it to acquire the land needed to construct the 5.95km ‘western and northern bypass’ of the town, and extinguish rights of way.
The bypass will comprise 3.65km of new road construction to the west of the town as well as the upgrade of 2.3km of the John B Keane Road it is to encompass to the north of the town centre in a project that will include three roundabouts, one bridge of the river Feale, a number of side-road realignments, junction upgrades as well as new bicycle and pedestrian provisions between the N69 at Billeragh and Caherdown roundabout at the junction with the Tarbert Road.
Kerry County Council believes the project is vital if the authority is to provide for the future development and expansion of the town, in terms of population and economy.
32 written objections to the CPO itself were received, four of which are still outstanding.
There remains deep concern among businesspeople about the impact on trade; among residents of neighbourhoods directly impacted by the project, and by many worried about the effect on local wildlife - not least a significant whopper swan colony little over 100m from where the bypass will traverse south of the Feale.
The much-loved Sive Walk on bogland west of Listowel will also be transformed, with the plan to ‘accommodate’ it on a new walkway to the north at less than 1km in length.
One of the main groups formed to oppose the plan, the Listowel Anti-Bypass Community, described the Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the Council in the application as ‘deficient’ in the way it assessed the alternative route option in the group’s submission to the board; arguing the baseline analysis of the EIS did not provide a sufficiently rigorous assessment of how the town would develop in the absence of the bypass; and that the impact on the ‘vitality’ of the town was not comprehensively addressed.
However, the board considered the EIS as well as the report, assessment and conclusion of its inspector as ‘adequate in identifying and describing the direct and indirect effects of the proposed road development.’ “It is considered that, subject to compliance with the conditions set out... the proposed road development would not have significant negative effects on the community in the vicinity, would not give rise to a risk of pollution, would not give rise to detrimental visual or landscape impacts, would not have a detrimental impact on... heritage, would not seriously injure the amenities of the area... and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience,” the Board’s conclusion stated.
The first, and main, condition of its decision is that the proposals, mitigation measures and commitments of the EIS be implemented in the project.
Members of the Anti-Bypass group at the recent oral hearing: Denis Carroll and Andrea Taylor, front, with Brian Finucane, Angela Moloney, Matt Mooney, Ross Walsh and Michelle Whelan.