A challenge to An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant approval for the 14km long M28 motorway between Cork and Ringaskiddy has been dismissed by the High Court.
An NGO representing local residents called the M28 Steering Group brought judicial review proceedings seeking to quash the planning authority's decision made in June 2018 to give the proposed road the go-ahead.
The proposed development, which will be carried out by Cork County Council on behalf of the National Roads Authority, comprises of approximately 14km of standard dual divided motorway, 1.6km of single carriageways and a service area 1.8 hectares in size.
Mr Justice Michael MacGrath today said that despite the skilful arguments by the group's barrister Oisin Collins Bl the court was not convinced that the project was not properly assessed by the board before it made its decision.
The group, the judge said, had failed in what was a difficult case to discharge the onus of proof required that would allow the court grant the reliefs it seeks, and must, therefore, dismiss the case.
The group had claimed that the board's decision was flawed on grounds including that the application for permission to construct the road was premature, incomplete and did not meet the requirements of both domestic and European Law.
It also argued that there was a failure by the board to consider the whole project or the cumulative effects of the proposed development.
They claimed that material to be used as part of the construction of the new road is to be extracted from a disused quarry, known as Raffeen Quarry, located along the route.
The group claimed that the quarry is important ecologically and is home to an array of protected flora and fauna. No proper assessment of the proposed roadworks on the quarry has been carried out, the group claimed.
Material is to be extracted from the quarry to construct the proposed roadway at a rate that between 10 and 30 times greater than what is permitted, the group further claimed.
As well as seeking to quash the board's decision the group also sought various declarations including that the Council failed to assess the environmental impacts of the proposal as a whole and that it failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment.
The action was opposed by the board. It said that the project had been properly assessed before the decision to grant planning permission was granted.
It also said that the potential cumulative effect of the road development and the quarrying had been addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the board's own assessment of the site.
The impacts of quarrying during construction, and issues concerning flora, fauna and the ecology within the quarry were also addressed, the board submitted.
Cork County Council, a notice party to the action, submitted to the court that an appropriate assessment in respect of the proposed project had been carried out.
It also argued by the Council that some of the points raised by the group in its proceedings were previously raised at an oral hearing in respect of the proposed scheme.
The board, the Council argued, had adequate information before it to justify its decision in regards to the impacts that the proposed road projects will have on the environment.
In dismissing the action the Judge said that the EIS was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the relevant EU directive and that the board had not been in breach of any of its obligations under that directive.
The group, he added, had not established that the project was not properly assessed or that the combined effects of the road and quarry were not adequately addressed and assessed by the planning authority.