Nine multinationals employing 5,000 people in a Cork town say they are “deeply frustrated” that the concerns of the local community were “ignored” by planners designing a new motorway.
The representation was made at the third day of An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearing on the proposed M28 Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway yesterday.
The proposed motorway has faced objections from residents living along the route south of Cork City, who say it will have a significant, detrimental impact on their health and quality of life.
Yesterday’s hearing concerned traffic issues arising from the development, which would see the existing N28 road that joins Cork’s South Ring Rd to Ringaskiddy upgraded to a motorway.
The hearing was told the nine life-science companies represented yesterday employ a combined 5,000 people, spending €338m on salaries, and that the firms believe the motorway “is a critical piece of infrastructure”.
Michael O’Donnell, site lead at Biomarin International, represented the companies at yesterday’s session. He said the companies “are strongly in favour of the N28 road upgrade” and said it is “essential” for future industrial growth in the area.
The latest proposed route of the new motorway has sparked fears in Ringaskiddy that the area would be divided by the route. Mr O’Donnell said an earlier design put forward in 2008 “took into account the wishes of residents”, unlike the latest plans.
Companies including Carbon Group, DePuy, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Hovione, Janssen, Pfizer, and Recordati urged the planning inspector to “take the cogent arguments of the Ringaskiddy community into account in your determinations as to the final shape of the M28”.
“We share the concerns and frustrations of residents regarding the proposed route through Ringaskiddy in the planning application,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“Despite our engagement with Cork County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, we are at a loss to understand why the requests of our local community were ignored.
“We are deeply frustrated that the wishes of people in Ringaskiddy and Shanbally were not taken into consideration.”
Some objectors have proposed an alternative motorway, along a new route from the Kinsale Rd Roundabout eastbound that would link Ringaskiddy to the airport.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton, an engineer and environmental consultant, said there is a responsibility to develop a proper motorway with “the potential to offer more than a simple connection between Ringaskiddy and the N40 South Ring Rd.
“I believe that the route that is currently planned for the proposed M28 is far from optimal and that if this project is pursued to construction, it will have tremendously negative impacts on the lives of thousands of residents living along that route,” she warned.
Ms D’Alton also asked whether the Bloomfield Interchange — which links the existing N28 to the South Ring Rd — has the capacity to handle the extra traffic predicted for the proposed motorway, especially in light of planned expansion of industry in Ringaskiddy.
“This combination of likely growth in the port, industrial, and residential sectors is a portent of significant additional demand on the proposed M28 corridor,” she said. “And whilst the motorway would undoubtedly be able to accommodate it, the Bloomfield Interchange presents only a single lane loop connecting the N28 to the N40 eastbound.
“Upgrading this interchange does not comprise part of the current project.
“So it is an entirely valid concern that, regardless of the undoubtedly adequate capacity of the M28 as proposed, it would always be constrained at the Bloomfield Interchange and battling for capacity on the N40 South Ring Rd.
“We have a known constriction at the Bloomfield Interchange and a nationally recognised congestion hotspot on the N40 against the backdrop of potential for further Port expansion, almost certain further large-scale industrial development in Ringaskiddy and a growing commuter town in Carrigaline.”
Ms D’Alton also rejected what she described as “the perception imparted by all three speakers on behalf of Cork County Council” earlier in the week which suggested that an upgrade of the N28 is required to facilitate the redevelopment of Port of Cork to Ringaskiddy.
“Planning permission was granted for the port’s relocation on the basis of the port’s proposal to implement a mobility management plan in conjunction with Cork County Council,” she said. “This would restrict freight movements from the port onto the N28 during peak periods. The port asked to proceed on this basis and it was granted planning permission on this basis.”
John Higgins of Lissadell Residents Association said the proposed motorway would widen the existing road that comes close to the back of some houses in the estate on Maryborough Hill.
He said residents have sought noise-reducing measures since the existing road was put in, and that there are fears the motorway will exacerbate matters. He said that trees lining the existing road offer some noise reduction, which is less effective in winter when the branches are bare, but that these plants will be removed as a result of the new, wider, road.
Mr Higgins also said that Maryborough Hill has had cycle and bus lanes installed as a ‘green route’, but that the road is a ‘rat run’ as it is — a situation residents believe will become worse due to the associated works.
Residents said plans to replace a slip road that allows traffic off Maryborough Hill onto the N28 with a system allowing traffic to also come off the motorway onto the hill would cause chaos on an already busy road.
Michael Noonan, of RPS Consulting Engineers for Cork County Council, said these plans were to increase local accessibility to and from the motorway and that they believe it will be beneficial overall for the area.
The hearing continues and is expected to run into next week.
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