An Taisce says its latest legal challenge to a €69m upgrade of the N86 main road to Dingle is “to ensure things are done properly”.
The organisation, which describes itself as the “National Trust for Ireland”, earlier this month lost a legal challenge, in the Commercial Court, against the improving and straightening of the narrow, winding road.
It is now seeking, at the Court of Appeal, to overturn that High court decision. An Taisce is also warning that “the EU Commission is watching this case very closely, as it concerns Ireland’s compliance with EU and international law”.
However, An Taisce is being criticised in Kerry, with the former mayor of the county, Fine Gael councillor, Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald, saying An Taisce cared nothing for the people of West Kerry, for ambulances getting to hospital or for the safety of road users.
“We all care about the heritage and the beauty of this area,” the councillor said, adding that the people of Kerry were “very disappointed”. “All Kerry County Council and the NRA are trying to do is to make this road safer. An Taisce care very little for the people of this peninsula — they have no time for people — and they are hell-bent on stopping the project.”
Huge rallies in support of the road have taken place in West Kerry. Mr Fitzgerald, using statistics obtained from the Department of Transport, said during the last 10 years there were 75 recorded collisions; eight people died; 25 people were seriously injured; and 79 suffered minor injuries.
An Taisce’s decision to take the matter to the Court of Appeal is the latest twist in a labyrinthine process to straighten a road full of twists, turns, and blind bends. After decades of campaigning, 4km of the road, from Camp to Gortbreagoge, were upgraded to include cycle paths. In 2011, the further 28km, between Dingle and Annascaul, were put before the public and an oral hearing convened in Dingle in 2012.
At that hearing, An Taisce claimed the bends in the road were “natural geological features” and should not be removed.
Concerns were aired by others about the width of the road and the provision of paths for cyclists.
An Bord Pleanala refused permission. However, via a judicial review by Kerry County Council, the project was approved in November, 2014. An Taisce then sought to overturn that. They maintained the N86 project had been “split” and this was in breach of EU rules on EIA directives. Their argument was dismissed. They are now seeking to overturn that dismissal, at the Court of Appeal.
An Taisce requires a certificate from the High Court to allow it to appeal.
The hearing of that certification application is provisionally scheduled for November 6.
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