A MAYO Oireachtas member has described as 'shocking' the disappointing news An Bord Pleanála that it intends once again to put back the decision on the planning application for a new bridge at Cloongullane, Swinford on the N26.
In March 2017, an oral hearing was conducted by the board. From then until July 2018 it was asking questions of an environmental nature, citing concerns about alluvial woodland and freshwater pearl mussel, because this is a designated special area of conservation, SCA, never mind that there is a road there and a sizeable population.
Said Senator Michelle Mulherin: “We are not talking about a wilderness but an area where there is human activity. That does not seem to be catered for. More than €4 million has been spent to date just to get to this point.
“The planning process has not even concluded nor has a cent been paid to a farmer for land. It is shocking that although the decision was to have been made on November 30, it has been delayed once again.
“This is the worst stretch of national primary road on the network. Year after year, people have been trying to find a solution to overcome the environmental designation. It is very frustrating. There are serious questions to be asked.
“There is either a significant problem within An Bord Pleanála or serious practical issues with the operation of the habitats and birds directives. This is impeding much needed development of a road that is necessary for economic and social growth and all the good measures planned under Project Ireland 2040.
“I ask for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to help get to the bottom of this. The N26 Cloongullane bridge is not alone.
“The west, including the western seaboard, where there is a significant volume of designated land, is being persecuted by this designation. The balance is not being got right between the wildlife and the human beings.”