FF’s Éamon Ó Cúiv describes many routes included in the national plan as “fiction”

Many road projects in the National Development Plan (PND) should be considered a “fiction” because of future carbon-proof investment plans, a prominent Fianna Fáil MP said.

Galway West TD and former minister Éamon Ó Cúiv said that even if projects like the N6 Galway Ring Road were included in the NDP, they would be fundamentally disadvantaged by the approval process envisioned in the plan.

“With the new process the Greens are building with regards to the carbon footprint, and in addition to what Eamon Ryan has said about the road projects, I would be sure that it will not continue as long as Eamon Ryan will be minister, ”he said. .

He said the impact of road projects on emissions would decrease over time as transport is decarbonized and argued that an analysis suggesting that traffic volumes increase with road construction was wrong.

“As far as I’m concerned, because of all these provisions, a lot of what is proposed in the NDP can be put in the fiction section of the library,” he said.

Under the new NPD, for the first time, projects will be subject to a climate and environmental assessment, as well as an assessment of the alignment of the plan as a whole with the “ideals of a plan.” green recovery ”. The National Roads Program received a “C” grade in the climate and environmental assessment carried out by the NPD.

A decision on the Galway ring road is expected in the coming weeks from An Bord Pleanála. The oral hearing of the project has already been delayed by around seven months due to the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions, with a decision now expected by November 19.

Mr Ó Cúiv raised the issue in Dáil last week, asking Minister of State for Road Transport and Logistics Hildegarde Naughton to provide more details on the processes that will need to be followed if the road gets the planning approval.

In response, Ms Naughton said the project was a “key part of Galway’s transport strategy”, which would free up road space in the city by cutting traffic and allowing more public transport and active commuting. in the heart of Galway city.

If the plan is approved and no legal challenge ensues, it will take the next step if it receives the required government approval under the public expenditure code. Since it will cost over 100 million euros, it will also come back to the government for approval before construction.

Sharp Dáil exchanges

In the Dáil last week, Mr Ó Cuív expressed his disappointment that more details on how the carbon assessment will be undertaken were not provided, saying it is “utterly disrespectful of the House that the Minister of State comes here today and does not have the answer to the most obvious and fundamental question that everyone in Galway wants the answer to ”.

Ms Naughton said under Ireland’s National Investment Framework, roads are assessed based on their regional connectivity and decarbonization, along with other criteria. She undertook to give more information on the process to Mr. Ó Cuív and to refer it to Mr. Ryan.

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe said he did not share his colleague’s grim assessment of road projects in the NDP, but called for an overhaul of town planning laws.

“Under current planning laws, most of these projects could take at least five to ten years. We need to revise town planning laws to ensure that these projects see the light of day, ”he said. “If we do this then the NDP is something that can be achieved within a decade. “

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