Residents and major industries in Ringaskiddy are united in their opposition to the proposed M28 motorway route as it will sever the Co Cork harbourside village.
Ringaskiddy Residents’ Association yesterday demanded planners should review original proposals, drawn up in 2008.
Residents’ spokesperson Peter Walter told day two of a Bord Pleanála oral hearing the original plan was to route the motorway around the village, instead of ploughing through the village centre.
He said the new route would be “catastrophic” for locals, funnelling large volumes of traffic very close to several homes and likely to cause significant air and noise pollution.
Mr Walter said the road plan ran contrary to the county council’s own Local Area Plan (LAP) for a number of reasons, not least as it would pass through a designated ‘green belt’ area.
He said the original route would have a minimal impact while the new proposal would lead to “free movement in the village being restricted”.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for life science companies Biomarin, DePuy, GSK, Janssen, Novartis, Pfizer, Recordati, Carbon Group and Hovione, which employ over 5,000, confirmed they backed the residents’ group.
And Gerard Harrington, spokesman for the M28 Steering Group which represents 10,000 residents in Maryborough, Douglas, Mount Oval and Rochestown, maintained the proposed €180m motorway was solely designed to transport HGVs in and out of the expanding Port of Cork container-handling facilities at Ringaskiddy.
The Port of Cork, he said, could use a rail link to transport cargo from Marino Point, the former IFI site near Cobh which it recently purchased.
Mr Harrington said many people living in heavily-populated housing areas “will have their way of life destroyed forever” if the project was approved.
“Adverse health consequences were unavoidable,” he also argued.
Residents, he noted, were very concerned the Bloomfield interchange will become a major bottleneck especially, as predicted, an additional 4,000 trucks per day will pass through it by 2035. The steering group also believed it makes more economic sense to link the new motorway from the Kinsale Road Roundabout to Cork Airport and onto Ringaskiddy.
Frances Gordon, whose family have lived near the Bloomfield interchange for the past 95 years, said her mother died earlier this year from a lung disease. Her mother never smoked and the family were not sure if it was caused by pollution from busy roads in the vicinity.
She produced video footage which highlighted the noise of traffic passing her home. Vegetation in the area, which helps muffles the noise, would have to be removed if the motorway was built. Ms Gordon was also concerned about the risk to bats in the nearby Bloomfield Wood.
Cllr Mary Rose Desmond said she consistently raised the issue of traffic noise but local authority engineers claimed nothing could be done about it. “The road will be nearer to homes, the owner may want to move, but who will buy them? We seem to keep putting people at the very end of the list,” she said.
The motorway will not be tolled, but unlike other motorways which have a speed limit of 120km/h, the limit on the M28 will be 100km/h.
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