Proposed road will destroy Kilkenny’s unique tourism product – An Taisce
Grossly compromising the city’s Medieval Mile would see tourist businesses hardest hit Kilkenny’s reputation as one of Ireland’s premier destinations for history lovers will lie in tatters if a new road is built through the city’s medieval quarter, according to An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland.
“It’s simply not possible to maintain an attractive environment for tourists and at the same time construct a busy road that would cut key historic attractions off from each another”, according to James Nix, Policy Director for An Taisce.
Hosting 215,000 visitors each year, Kilkenny accounts for one third of all tourist trips in the south east. If the road scheme proceeds very substantial financial inflows from tourism revenue in Kilkenny will be thrown in jeopardy, according to An Taisce.
Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile stretches from Kilkenny Castle to St Canice’s Cathedral. The Medieval Mile was officially launched in 2012 with a €5.5m investment plan announced by Minister Hogan. All stakeholders, including Failte Ireland, are agreed that the Medieval Mile is vital to Kilkenny as a world class tourism destination.
However, the proposed road would sever the Medieval Mile and the result would grossly compromise Kilkenny’s unique tourist product. Businesses that rely and thrive on tourism to Kilkenny would be hardest hit, with follow-on consequences for employment.
There is a clear alternative here, An Taisce points out. More than 4,500 people have signed a petition – some online, others with their personal signature - calling for funds to be diverted away from the plan to build a road through the centre of Kilkenny and dedicated instead to the completion of the city’s ring road.
Completing the Kilkenny ring will actually take traffic out of the city centre, in marked contrast to the plan current being progressed, which will simply burden the core of this historic city with more vehicles.
All forward-thinking cities have stopped building new or wider roads through their cores, notes An Taisce, with the Trust adding that the emphasis now is on more accessible and relaxed movement for people walking, cycling and taking public transport. The progressive solution here sees a percentage of private car use migrated to more sustainable modes over the coming years, instead of miss-spending taxpayers’ money on a project that could only further embed car-dependence. In turn, this miss-spending would then need even further taxpayers’ money to undo it in the medium and long term.
Kilkenny businesses must also look to their vital interests, as must all interested in maintaining employment in the tourist sector: these all point to building the ring road, not a road through Kilkenny’s heart.
There is a window of opportunity left to avoid chronic miss-spending here, says An Taisce. Once the counter-productive nature of the road through the centre is realised and acknowledged, money can be transferred to the ring road without difficultly.
Kilkenny has an opportunity to learn from Dublin, and avoid mistakes made in the capital. In the 1970s and 1980s misconceived road proposals in Dublin saw the widening of roads adjacent to St Patrick’s and Christchurch cathedrals. Now there is a realisation that these roads need to be narrowed. Kilkenny can avoid repeating errors of the past.
For further information, please call:
James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce Tel: +353 86 8394129
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce +353 87 2411995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland