Green light for €600m Galway City ring road project

Green light for €600m Galway City ring road project

Supporters said the ring road would help to alleviate widespread traffic congestion in Galway City, while opponents said it would only increase emissions. Picture: Ray Ryan

An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to the controversial 18km Galway City ring road, over three years after receiving the application.

The process, which featured lengthy oral hearings and delays due to Covid-19, may still be subject to legal challenge but detailed planning can now get under way for the project.

Around 500 landowners are affected by the proposed ring road running from the west of the city near Barna to the existing M6 motorway.

Demolition of 44 houses

The plan for the ring road involved the demolition of 44 houses.

Supporters of the road said it would help to alleviate widespread traffic congestion in the city and aid its future development, while opponents said it would only increase emissions and called for more sustainable transport options.

In the inspector's report from An Bord Pleanála, the inspector agreed with the reasoning put forward by Galway County Council for the compulsory purchase of land as part of the plans.

The land acquisition would be “in the public interest and the common good”, the report said. It recommended granting permission with some conditions attached.

An Bord Pleanála, in its decision, said the proposed road development is “likely to result in a significant negative impact on carbon emissions and climate that will not be fully mitigated”.

It also said that the loss of properties would have a “profound permanent negative impact on homeowners” that could not be “avoided, mitigated, or otherwise addressed by means of condition”.

The decision to approve the road was warmly welcomed by Galway County Council, Galway City Council, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

In a statement, the groups said: “This is welcome news for the thousands of commuters who travel to Galway on a daily basis for employment, education, medical or other services and who find themselves at a standstill for long periods in traffic congestion.” 

However, they also acknowledged the “significant impact the road will have on many property owners but especially those residential properties affected by it”.

Unfortunately, given the significant constraints for developing new transport infrastructure in the urban environment and the linear nature of the city, avoidance of properties was not possible.

“The council will continue to engage as constructively as possible with each and every land and property owner along the route.” 

They said numerous alternative routes had been considered, but were deemed more damaging in terms of property demolitions and environmental impacts.

The cost of the project is currently estimated at €600m, including property and construction costs.

Subject to legal challenges and funding, the project can now advance to the next stage following An Bord Pleanála approval.

This includes land and property purchase, detailed design, and the procurement of contractors for the construction phase.

It is expected the main construction phase could take three years, on top of the 18 to 24 months expected for the detailed design and tendering phase.

A statement added that some of this work could be progressed alongside any legal challenges to the plan.

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