A sum of €4.35m, set aside this year by the National Roads Authority (NRA) for upgrading the N86 Tralee to Dingle road, will now be spent in another part of the country.
This follows a decision by An Taisce to seek a judicial review in the High Court of plans to widen, straighten and provide cycle lanes on the busy tourist route.
Kerry County Council chief executive Moira Murrell told yesterday’s monthly meeting a letter had been received from the NRA and the loss of the money was “very, very disappointing’’.
“Our solicitors are considering the overall position and it is our intention to defend the council’s position (in the court),’’ she added.
An Bord Pleanála recently approved a €65m plan to improve a 28km section of the road. But, there are fears the project could be in jeopardy and decades of campaigning by local people for improvements could be in vain.
Councillors strongly criticised An Taisce, which is to be asked to explain its reasons for the review at a joint meeting with council chairman John Brassil and the chairmen of three municipal authorities in Kerry.
Dingle-based Cllr Seamus (Cosai) Fitzgerald said An Taisce’s legal challenge was disappointing and he pleaded with them not to proceed with the review request.
“This project has already been through a number of procedures, including an oral hearing and a judicial review was sought by the council against a previous Bord Pleanála refusal of planning,’’ he said.
Cllr Fitzgerald said the road was very dangerous, with more than 20 fatal accidents over the years.
An Taisce claims Bord Pleanála has not fulfilled its obligations under the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and widening the road would adversely affect the scenic landscape.
However, Cllr Fitzgerald argued work already completed on a 4km stretch of the road enhanced rather than destroyed the landscape.
“This (review) is the biggest blow the Dingle peninsula ever received. As well as helping the economy of Kerry, the work would have created much-needed employment,’’ he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved