At yesterday’s hearing claims were made that in the current economic climate, building the €800m Cork-Limerick motorway (M20) was a shocking waste of public money.
Brian Hyde, spokesman for the Cork Limerick Alliance Group (CLAG) – which represents a number of concerned landowners and householders along the proposed M20 corridor – said it would make more sense to build a shorter motorway from Limerick to Cahir, which would then link with the M8 and Cork.
He said Cahir would become a “central hub” that could then be connected by another motorway to Waterford and the Europort at Rosslare when the economy improved.
“At least we would have a strategic link through Cahir to Galway, Limerick and Cork, Waterford and Rosslare. This would also link the M7 the M8 the M9 and M11. All of these existing motorways run south, but with no link to each other at present,” Mr Hyde said.
It costs around €10m to build a kilometre of motorway.
Mr Hyde said the proposed Cork-Limerick motorway (M20) was 80km long, whereas the Limerick-Cahir motorway was just 55km long.
He added that with the saving of €250m, bypasses could be built at Buttevant and Charleville and the proposed northern relief road in Mallow could also be constructed.
Mr Hyde said lorries heading out of the Ringaskiddy container terminal for Limerick, Galway and Sligo would use the M8, instead of having to skirt around the north-west of Cork city to join up with the M20.
“The existing M8 has the capacity to take 57,000 vehicles a day so it can easily handle the extra traffic from Limerick, Galway and Sligo, via the proposed new motorway from Limerick to Cahir,” Mr Hyde said.
He told Bord Pleanála inspector Danny O’Connor that the amount of traffic which would use the M20 didn’t warrant the “already overburdened taxpayer” forking out €800m.
Mr Hyde said the building of the M20 – as part of the Atlantic Corridor – might well be Government policy. “Look at where Government policy has got us in relation to the banking crisis. The result has been to mortgage this country to the hilt for future generations. Forgive us for being sceptical about government policy.
“Have we not learned from the crazy situation of building six roads from Dublin to the North? All of us here have an obligation to get this right.”
Meanwhile, Fergal Duff, an environmental consultant acting on behalf of CLAG, said the construction of the M20 would represent a significant threat to the environment.
Mr Duff said many aspects of it were incompatible with the Convention on Biodiversity and UN/EU directives.
The oral hearing into the M20, which has been going on for more than a week at the Charleville Park Hotel, is set to conclude today.