The route corridor on some parts of the proposed M20 motorway has been extended to up to 10 miles in width and anyone who has sought planning permission anywhere along the entire corridor is being told their application is "premature" until the final route is decided.
Fine Gael councillor Liam Madden told a meeting of Cork County Council that the original route corridor selected in 2008 has been widened significantly by the Limerick-based M20 Project Team.
The council heard this is to accommodate the possibility of building a light rail system in the years ahead which would run close to the motorway.
Mr Madden said the project team is advising people seeking planning permission within the new route corridor that their application is “premature” until the exact routes for both the motorway and light rail are finally decided.
This means in effect that no planning permissions can, in the meantime, be granted for agricultural, industrial and housing development along the entire route corridor.
Mr Madden said it is vital that the M20/light rail selection process is sped up and that the route corridor be reduced in size as quickly as possible to allow some planning applications to be granted.
“We need to sit down with these people and define when the route selection will be,” he said.
He got support from colleagues when he said they should seek a meeting with the project team to discuss the issue.
Fine Gael councillor Tony O'Shea said the new corridor stretches from eight to 10 miles wide in his own area while his brother, councillor John Paul O'Shea, said everybody was surprised to see the extensiveness of the new zone area.
“In Macroom the bypass corridor was a few hundred metres wide. This (route corridor) study will continue into 2021 and a lot of land will be sterilised as a result in the meantime, and that's deeply concerning,” he said.
In recent weeks a court case reintroduced protection along the entire length of the River Blackwater from the Kerry border downstream to Youghal for the endangered Freshwater Pearl Mussel forcing the local authority to refuse a developer planning for 95 houses in Mallow as a result. That is now being appealed to An Bord Pleanála.