Cork County Council said it will now consider the next steps with a view to ensuring that it can progress to construction on the €220m Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway “as soon as possible”.
The local authority said the 13km motorway would improve the safety of the existing N28 route while facilitating the relocation of the Port of Cork container terminal from Tivoli to Ringaskiddy, which in turn would free up a land bank for development in the city centre.
The comments followed the announcement yesterday that An Bord Pleanála has given its approval for the motorway to go ahead.
The planning authority said that in giving approval for the motorway, it was recognising the need to improve connectivity between the local, regional, and national road network, and also the connectivity with the Tier 1 Port of Cork at Ringaskiddy.
It also said it had regard for “the reduced congestion on the local, regional, and national road network” that will come about as a result of the motorway’s development.
It added six conditions to its approval, which included the introduction of additional noise mitigation measures, a revised junction layout for Carr’s Hill/Maryborough Hill and other traffic issues, and landscaping mitigation actions.
Significant announcement today as An Board Pleanála approves the M28 Cork-Ringakiddy motorway, a key infrastructure project for all of Ireland and Munster @IDASouthWest @corkcitycouncil @Corkcoco https://t.co/lr7eUHxbFl— Cork Chamber (@CorkChamber) July 4, 2018
An Bord Pleanála held a 12-day oral hearing into the motorway last year, during which a number of issues were raised by objectors.
Among the most prominent objections were concerns that the motorway would add to the noise and air pollution suffered by residents along the road, particularly those living at the north end of the N28 where it terminates at the Bloomfield Interchange near Douglas.
However, in her report to the board, inspector Mary Kennelly said she was satisfied that those concerns have been addressed by the environmental impact assessment.
“It is clear from the analysis that should the road project not go ahead, the noise levels for most of the existing N28 route will continue to increase,” she said.
“Thus, whilst the noise levels at the northern end are unacceptably high, they will reduce for all properties within the 300m band [distance from the motorway] and the number of properties within the higher band will also decrease.
"The increase in noise levels for a small number of properties is also inevitable given the rural nature of much of the off-line section of the route.”
Ms Kennelly conceded that there will be “a slight temporary adverse impact on air quality during the construction phase” but that, when open, the motorway would cause no net change in the air quality “due to a combination of the realignment away from residential properties and the increase in traffic volumes being offset by a reduction in congestion on the proposed alignment”.