The granting of planning permission yesterday by An Bord Pleanala to the controversial Central Access Scheme and bridge crossing has been condemned by Kilkenny Green Party County Councillor and Environment Spokesperson, Malcolm Noonan.
Speaking following the decision, Cllr Noonan said that it effectively spells the death knell to Kilkenny’s Medieval Character and a streetscape unaltered for 800 years. ‘We can now kiss our reputation as a heritage city goodbye on foot of this decision. It will split the medieval foundations of the city in two with a road to nowhere, to a brownfield site for a supermarket’ he said. ‘Furthermore, Kilkenny County Council cannot afford to build it. Both Local Authorities have already set aside significant sums of money for this project and members of the Borough Council will set aside a further €1m in the Capital Programme, precious funding that could be used to benefit the community. The Council’s own estimates of costs are way off the mark given the archaeological sensitivity of the area, effectively meaning we will be seeking IMF borrowed money to finish the bridge. We also could be looking at an unquantifiable timeframe given the complexities of the project’.
Cllr Noonan said that the scheme (formerly known as the Inner Relief Road) was first proposed in the 1980’s and some sections of road were widened then to accommodate it. He said that since it’s inception, the road has been significantly altered and compromised with controversial spurs being either removed or refused planning by An Bord Pleanala. Cllr Noonan, community and heritage groups in Kilkenny have objected to the Central Access Scheme and he gave evidence at the Oral Hearing in 2008. Following the Oral Hearing, An Bord Plenala granted in principle permission to construct the bridge, for the already widened section on Dean St and spur onto the Castlecomer road.
‘I have spent the past ten years campaigning against the road and for the prioritization of the completion of the Outer Ring Road as a means of addressing through traffic in the city’ He contended that the road would exacerbate traffic problems in the city and that it was completely contrary to the ‘modal shift’ envisioned in the Smarter Travel initiative, which Kilkenny is participating in.
Cllr Noonan who was the only member of both Borough and County Council to object to the Central Access Scheme said that he would be meeting with the other objectors of the scheme to see what options were left for their campaign. ‘We don’t have the resources to take this campaign any further. I feel very sad for our city today as I believe that all of the really progressive work we have been doing to consolidate Kilkenny’s reputation as a heritage city will be undone by this unnecessary piece of outdated infrastructure. It has no place in sustainable urban planning’ he concluded.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan
Green Party Spokesperson
Environment, Community and Local Government
086 839 9418
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