Objectors to the proposed €180m Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway say it would split communities, cause increased physical and mental health problems, reduce life expectancy, and significantly devalue their properties.
Increased noise and noxious gas emissions created by additional traffic passing through residential areas and the lack of proposals for an alternative motorway route were also highlighted by objectors at the first day of a Bord Pleanála oral hearing at the Ambassador Hotel in Cork.
At the outset of the meeting yesterday, Bord Pleanála senior inspector Mary Kennelly said she accepted the hotel “was somewhat removed from the site of the proposed project”.
Ms Kennelly said no effort had been spared to seek a venue closer to the southern suburbs which will be most affected.
She said 16 hotels on the southside and in the city centre were contacted and had been ruled out, as they either did not have the necessary space or were not available for the number of days needed.
More than 200 people attended the hearing, with several saying the choice of venue was totally inappropriate as most objectors live on the southside of the city.
Michael Noonan, project engineer for applicants Cork County Council, said 10.9km of motorway was proposed between the Bloomfield interchange and Barnahely, with a further 1.5km single carriageway from Barnahely to the east of Ringaskiddy.
Around 142 hectares of land will need to be acquired for the motorway through compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) from 82 landowners. A total of 139 submissions have been made to the hearing, of which 48 are objections.
The main objectors are the M28 Steering Committee, which represents 10,000 residents in Mount Oval, Maryborough Hill, Rochestown, Carr’s Hill, and Douglas.
Connor Kelly, a resident of Lissadell Estate, Maryborough Hill, said the motorway will split a local community in two.
Maria Cashman said the motorway could cause physical and mental health problems in the Rochestown and Douglas areas and houses would be devalued.
“We have a huge young population and there’s no consideration for them,” she said.
John Twomey, who spoke on behalf of residents in Upper Shanbally, said Transport Infrastructure Ireland wanted to put existing and new high-tension powerlines underground in their area as part of the project, but the ESB had opposed that.
Maureen O’Byrne, from Maryborough Heights, claimed the motorway would represent “a massive overkill” to a beautiful suburb.
She said there was no compensation when the South Ring Rd was built near her home.
“We had to put in double-glazing and can’t hear the television if the windows are open,” she said. “Subsidence will be a real fear due to huge increase in the number of heavy trucks which will use the motorway.
“This proposal proposes a serious threat to our physical and mental health as well as our life expectancy. This proposal tramples on the civil rights of 10,000 people.”
Donal McDonal of the Rochestown Rise Residents’ Committee called the project “an appalling threat and challenge” to locals.
He argued that there are numerous acknowledgements in the Environmental Impact Statement that protections of law for the community and environment can’t be achieved and therefore the project shouldn’t go ahead.
Objectors claim the motorway should be built from the Bandon Rd roundabout up to Cork Airport and on to Ringaskiddy.
Jacqui O’Donovan said the South Link Rd was already above EU levels for pollution and it was about time quality of life was considered more than ever.
Ibec spokeswoman Orla Casey said the motorway is vital to the expansion of the Port of Cork container facility at Ringaskiddy and that her organisation is fully supportive of the new road as it would help drive the economy. She said it would also make Cork a more attractive location for biopharmachem companies.
Ms Casey maintained that the current N28 is no longer fit for purpose and increased gridlock on it would lead to even more pollution.
Cork City Council deputy chief executive Pat Ledwidge told the hearing the motorway “would be a key economic enabler” for future growth in the region.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved