Battle lines drawn in road row

A group of protestors who call themselves ‘Friends of Ardee Bog’ have delivered a petition to Minister Eamon Ryan urging him to halt the building of the N52 Ardee Bypass. The proposed route would see the bypass run directly across Ardee bog and concerned residents in the area believe this result in long lasting damage to the area.

The group’s petition had over 10,000 signatures and last Wednesday they travelled up to the Dail to deliver it to Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan. Anne Lennon was part of the travelling party who delivered the petition to the Dáil and speaking to the Dundalk Leader she outlined a list of reasons why she wants Minister Ryan to put a stop to the N52 bypass project.

“There are many reasons why we believe that this project needs to be stopped and we were very thankful that we got an opportunity to talk to Green Party politician Malcolm Noonan who is the current Minister for Heritage and Electoral reform. He listened to us and was in agreement with much of what we said and we are hopeful that our concerns will be acted upon now,” stated Anne.

“We have many concerns including the fact that there has never been an Environmental Impact Assessment carried out in relation to this project. As well as that the bog is home to many forms of wildlife including the Curlew bird which is close to extinction.

“Curlews nest in Ardee Bog and a recent report has shown that there has been a 96% decline in numbers since the 1980s and it is in danger of extinction in Ireland. I think a lot of people tend to underestimate just how important our bogs are and how vital a role they play in combatting the climate crisis.
“Ardee Bog is the last and most easterly Raised Bog in Ireland. It is a proposed Natural Heritage Area, and a site of national ecological significance. It needs to be protected from so-called “development” and left to regenerate. This bog is an important store of carbon, helping to control greenhouse gasses.and also an important store of water within river catchments.

“Bogs act as a sponge and help to alleviate flooding and I can guarantee you that if that road is built through Ardee Bog there will be all sorts of issues with flooding around Ardee in the years ahead. Untold damage will be done to farmers, businesses, Ardee Golf Club and our local communities.

“The plans for this bypass were drawn up twenty years ago and we believe they are outdated and not fit for purpose today. Traffic congestion in the town of Ardee is largely caused by traffic on the N2 coming from Dublin, Slane, Collon, Carrickmacross as well as two local primary schools, a community school, housing estates (some existing 18 years ago as well as a lot of new developments built since). All this traffic from the N2 gets bottlenecked at a little bridge over the river Dee; it is not traffic from the N52. If this road project aims to solve the traffic problem in Ardee, then it needs to relieve traffic from the N2 rather than the N52. This Bypass is not bypassing the right part of town,” claimed Anne. “We have laid out are concerns with Minister Ryan now and we are hopeful that he will listen to us and act accordingly,” she added.

However local TD’s Peter Fitzpatrick and Fergus O’Dowd have both voiced support for the project with the latter seeking an update from Inister Ryan as recently as last week. During his exchange with the Minister it was revealed that €8.1m had already been spent on the project.

“Ardee town has been choked with traffic for decades. Fumes and heavy goods vehicles clog the town. It is critical that the bypass be built. Money has been allocated to it. How much funding has been spent to date, what are the timelines for commencement, and will the Minister make a statement on the matter,” asked Deputy O’Dowd.

In response Minister Ryan referenced the concerns from local residents about the project as well as the environmental concerns saying he hoped they could be overcome.

“To answer a very specific question, however, €8.1 million has been spent to date. I recall the Deputy was Chair of the transport committee when we had a specific session to consider the road. As I recall, there were concerns from local residents around some of the traffic management implications of it. There were also some environmental concerns around the bogland to the west of the proposed route alignment. I hope we can overcome those.

“My understanding is that we are still waiting, in a sense, for the planning issue in regard to that and for An Bord Pleanála to issue a direction. Subject to those planning and other assessments being put in place, it is hoped that we can get the road approved through both the planning system and the public spending code system,” concluded the Minister.

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