The proposed widening and removal of bends on a notable tourist road in Kerry will have a profound impact on the landscape, it has been claimed.
An Bord Pleanála is to hold an oral hearing into a proposed €69m revamp of 28km of the N86 from Tralee into the peninsula village of Dingle.
The scheme envisages removing some notorious hairpin bends and creating a three-lane carriageway to provide for cyclists.
However, environmentalists, tourism operators, and a group of Dingle residents are questioning the need for change. They claim the “personality” and character of the existing, fuchsia-strewn road winding through protected landscape at the gateway to the peninsula will be destroyed. A number of landowners along the route are also objecting.
The scheme falls under the NRA’s “low cost volume tourist route programme” — targeted at upgrading national secondary roads along the western seafront. It is to be carried out in stages, with a €5m, 4km section, currently underway near Annascaul.
An Bord Pleanála said 27 submissions had been received, including six on an environmental statement and 21 from landowners involved in a CPO process.
An organisation of Dingle residents submitted that “re-alignment and large width increase is questionable, especially at the expense of the character of the road”.
The work will turn the landscape “into a barren monotonous journey with no personality”, they claim, adding that “views of laneways and hedgerows, of farms and fields, of the natural landscape (of moorland, mountain, sky, and sea), will all whiz by in a blur”.
The hearing is to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Dingle Skellig Hotel.
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