Bord Pleanála has set nine working days aside for an oral hearing into the proposed Cork-Ringaskiddy (M28) motorway, which will get underway at the Ambassador Hotel on the northside of Cork City on November 7.
The short notice given by the planning appeals board and its choice of venue for the hearing have been strongly criticised by a county councillor.
“They given very little notice of the event and many people may have to organise time off work and childminding for it,” said Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton. “And worse, they are proposing to hold it on the northside of Cork City.”
She questioned why a venue could not have been found on the southside of the city, where the motorway is to be built and where the vast majority objectors live.
It is proposed that the new 12.5km road would run from the Bloomfield interchange to Ringaskiddy.
The vast majority of it will be built to motorway standard to handle what is predicted to be a 40% increase in average daily traffic and a leap in freight numbers from 700 to 3,900 trucks by 2035.
Some of the redevelopment of the Port of Cork container facilities at Ringaskiddy is dependent on the motorway getting approval.
Ms D’Alton, an environmental engineer, said the project does not include for any upgrade of the Bloomfield Interchange and she foresees bottlenecks developing there.
Along the existing N28 from Mount Oval down almost to the N40 is a residential corridor.
“We’re talking levels of noise that are either simply not permitted or receive compensation in other developed countries.”
Ms D’Alton said residents close to the existing N28 can not leave their windows open at night and if the existing road is widened to motorway status, it will bring traffic even closer to some houses.
“A slip road is planned to bring traffic straight from the M28 onto the N40 westbound,” she said. “This would run virtually over the back gardens of houses. There simply isn’t the physical room down this valley to develop the N28 into a motorway whilst giving existing residents a decent quality of life.”
Ms D’Alton said no funding had been put in place for many years to protect residents living along the existing N28 from the noise that has badly impacted on their lives.
At the same time, huge numbers of cars come out of Cork Airport Business Park into traffic queues at the Kinsale Road roundabout.
Objectors believe it’s a major mistake not to connect the two biggest strategic transport hubs in the county — Cork Airport and the Port of Cork container terminal in Ringaskiddy. They maintain the motorway should be built to connect the two from the Bandon/Macroom road junction at Bishopstown.
It is envisaged that the oral hearing will run until November 17, with a decision made on December 21.