THE development of a DART underground line is the essential “missing link” in the Dublin commuter rail network, An Bord Pleanála has been told.
At the start of a two-week long hearing process, Iarnród Éireann’s strategic and business planning manager, Micheal Reidy, said the construction of the two-mile underground link is key to the future development of the city “enabling growth” and providing “a more sustainable alternative to the private car”.
Iarnród Éireann estimates the development will treble the number of rail passengers to 100 million by linking up with the inter city, commuter and LUAS lines as well as the planned Metro North.
The company also says the project will mean 7,000 jobs and the overall economic benefits will be 2.4 times the cost.
However, An Bord Pleanála must consider nearly 280 objections and submissions concerning the development.
Among those opposing the scheme are lawyers for developer, Owen O’Callaghan, who have threatened legal action against the project, claiming delays could harm the Cork developer’s Dublin property interests,
Residents of the East Wall area, where the proposed works will take place, protested outside the public hearing.
Angela Broderick, vice-chairperson of the East Wall Residents’ Association, said: “The bulk of the city-wide excavation works, which will continue for over six years, will be shuttled via HGVs, 24 hours a day, through the East Wall Area resulting in constant traffic, dust and spoil.”
She added that East Wall residents were outraged that the oral hearing was taking place in Tallaght — 15km away from where the proposed works will take place.
At the hearing, lawyers for Mr O’Callaghan challenged An Bord Pleanála’s jurisdiction
Mr O’Callaghan owns the Davenport and Alexandra hotels, as well as other properties in the city centre, and his barrister Colm Allen SC said that with no public money identified for the project his lands could lie “sterilised” for years without any agreed compensation.
An Bord Pleanála refused to hear a submission on this and Mr Allen said he may have to take the issue “elsewhere”.
In a joint statement Labour Dublin Central TD Joe Costello and his wife local Labour councillor Emer Costello condemned the decision to hold the oral hearing in Tallaght.
Mr Costello said: “The proposed route for the DART Interconnector lies just north and south of the River Liffey in the heart of the city and in the area of Dublin City Council. Yet residents along the route who have made written submissions will only be able to make oral submissions if they travel all the way out to Tallaght.”
At the hearing Iarnród Éireann chief executive Dick Fearn said the recession should not be used as an excuse for not going ahead, as it was used in the 1980s.
The hearing continues today.
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