Nobody told us: An Bord Pleanála says it knew nothing about the climate plan when it got the green light for the €600m Galway bypass

AN Bord Pleanála says it was unaware of the climate change plan when it gave permission for the Galway Ring Road because nobody told them about it.

This is despite the plan being unveiled to great fanfare by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Minister for the Environment four days earlier at a high-profile event at government buildings.

Its release, which coincided with the UN’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow last November, was preceded by much media speculation and was widely reported on the day and in the days that followed.

That Irish Independent its own lead story correctly predicted on the day the plan was launched that it would focus heavily on reducing car use in favor of public transport, cycling and walking as a way to reduce carbon emissions.

But four days later, the Board gave planning permission for a highly controversial €600million 18km bypass around the city of Galway.


The Irish Independent’s cover story on 4 November 2011

Plans for the street are now in disarray after the planning board told objectors it would not defend the legal challenge they would take to court next week.

This means that the granted building permit is effectively revoked.

Friends of the Irish Environment’s complaint was accepted on the grounds that the permit was granted without taking account of the National Climate Change Plan.

The board explained its decision not to oppose the challenge and said it held five meetings on the Ringstrasse before making its final decision to grant the permit on November 8 last year.

A statement said: “The Board was not aware at this meeting that four days earlier, on November 4, 2021, a new 2021 Climate Action Plan had been adopted. The acceptance of the same was not communicated to the organization.”

It continued, “Failure to consider the New 2021 Climate Action Plan under Section 15 of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Act 2015, as amended, prior to its decision is sufficient to prejudice the legality of its decision.”

Galway Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly welcomed An Bord Pleanála’s decision, saying it would allow work to begin on a “climate resilient” solution.

“Now is the time to develop an approach to reducing traffic through public and active travel,” she said.

“A redesigned Galway is required.”

Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton, however, expressed disappointment at what she described as a “setback”.

“This project is vital to the city,” she said. “I am involved with the relevant bodies behind the project. It is important that we have clarity about the way forward as soon as possible.”

Galway Senator Sean Kyne said the decision was “very difficult to take”.

“We finally thought we were making headway in solving the chronic transportation problems that haunt the lives of residents and workers, and it’s a devastating blow.”

The bodies behind the project, Galway City and Borough Councils and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, also said they were disappointed with the latest development but insisted the project go ahead.

In a joint statement, they said the challenge for the road was accepted “on very limited ground”.

“We are confident that the issues encountered can be resolved and therefore intend to move forward with the delivery of the N6 Galway City Ring Road project.

“It is crucial to secure the future development of Galway City as a major economic center in the West of Ireland and to ensure its development is sustainable,” they said.

They also claimed that the new road would reduce traffic through the city center and allow more space for public transport, cycling and walking.

Local politicians have been told in recent weeks that €35 million has already been spent to get the project into the planning phase.

The Ibec group of companies expressed its disappointment with the move.

“The GCRR is an infrastructure project of national importance and an important growth factor for the entire western region,” it said.

“Galway’s transport strategy places a strong emphasis on providing sustainable transport solutions. The GCRR is a core component of the strategy that provides more space for sustainable modes of transportation such as walking, cycling and public transport in the metropolitan area to support population growth , compact and sustainable.

“The bypass will support improved mobility in the city. It will address the city’s congestion challenges by reducing the number of cars in the city, creating a city center more conducive to pedestrians and cyclists, and more efficient for public transit journeys between cities. This will ultimately lead to an improved quality of life for residents and workers, making the city more livable and attractive.”

It described the latest move as a major setback.

“The problems that arise must be resolved quickly and the speedy processing of the application must be treated as a priority by An Bord Pleanála. It is unfortunate that the Board appeared unaware of the government’s previous (published) decision to adopt the Climate Action Plan 2021.” Nobody told us: An Bord Pleanála says it knew nothing about the climate plan when it got the green light for the €600m Galway bypass

Fry Electronics Team

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