An Taisce’s challenge of the contentious upgrade of the scenic N86 Dingle Route
An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. An Taisce is not a government body, semi-state or agency.
An Taisce has challenged the decision on this road development in the courts because we believe that An Board Pleanála did not correctly comply with and carry out the legal requirements laid down in Irish and EU Law for an Environmental Impact Assessment on the whole project. In this regard, it is also significant that the expert Inspector of An Bord Pleanála highlights An Taisce’s concerns as to how the project was being spilt into sections so as to preclude an overall environmental assessment (Note 5).
Our laws provide, as a statutory right, provision for citizens and organisations to review decisions like this. In granting An Taisce permission for this challenge, the courts have already decided that there is an issue which needs to be fully heard and decided. The matter is now in front of the courts for them to decide on the legality or otherwise of the decision.
To draw an analogy - consider a windfarm developer who decided to split up his project of 32 turbines into separate projects of 1 turbine each. Surely you would argue that the impacts of the all 32 turbines need to be considered and fully assessed as a whole.
It is also worth noting that An Bord Pleanála itself originally decided that the exact same scheme represented an unjustifiable intrusion into the landscape of the Dingle Peninsula until this decision was judicially reviewed by Kerry County Council.
A complete and thorough application of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive requires the project as a whole be assessed. This decision and how it has been handled is not just important for this project but for many other projects.
Since taking this challenge, An Taisce has received comments from people in Kerry and further afield, including tourists who've visited the area, welcoming our action. We have also received criticism and expressions of concern. To those we would say their frustration is more appropriately targeted at Kerry County Council and An Bord Pleanála whose actions have, in our view, compromised this project and how it has been assessed and failed to comply with the law.
An Taisce wishes to see this matter dealt with promptly and will not be objecting to proposals to expedite its progress through the Courts so that it can be decided more swiftly in the interests of justice for all.
- An Bord Pleanála reference PL08.HA0048
- DIRECTIVE 2011/92/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 13 December 2011 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, the EIA Directive”
- Permission was granted by the Board in November 2014, Board Ref PL08 .HA0048 following an earlier successful Judicial Review by Kerry County Council of an earlier decision in September 2013 by the Board to refuse the same scheme, Board Ref PL08 .HA0035, That court challenge resulted in the Board’s decision being quashed and remitted to the Board following on the judgement in April 2014 by Mr Justice Charleton. The Judgement determined in effect that the Board had not discharged its obligations under the Roads Act of 1993 as amended in making that initial decision which refused permission. The Board then in revisiting the scheme, reversed its decision and granted permission in November 2014.
- In October 2010, Kerry County Council, KCC made an application for direction to An Bord Pleanála in respect of the Environmental Impact Assessment requirements for a 32 KM scheme from Dingle to Tralee, Board Ref PL08. HD0019. KCC then decided to withdraw that given the availability of funding for a 4.2km component of the scheme which it advanced under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended and associated regulations and permitting it itself as a Local Authority own Development, without Assessment under the EIA directive. Within 2 months of withdrawing the application for direction for the 32 km route, it submitted an application to the Board for direction on EIA requirements for the remaining 28 km of the route, lying immediately either side of the 4.2 km stretch. ( Board Ref PL08. HD0024) The Board determined an EIS was required for the purposes of Environmental Impact Assessment. That 28 km stretch and how the Board has fulfilled its obligations under the EIA Directive is the subject of the current challenge. An Taisce argues the objectives of the EIA Directive have been compromised, that the Board has failed to fulfil its assessment obligations, and that the Board hasn’t adequately explained its reasons for coming to the decision and conclusions it has.
- The expert Inspector of An Bord Pleanála echoed An Taisce’s concerns as to how the project was being spilt into sections so as to preclude an overall environmental assessment. He noted in the strongest possible terms;
“In the context of assessing the environmental impact of a proposed development, in my opinion the procedures being pursued here are unacceptable…. I must stress that the resulting outcome is that environmental impact assessment process is significantly diminished by this….The submitted EIS is flawed by taking out and separating from the assessment the stretch of road in the middle, which initially and correctly formed part of the overall scheme as originally referred to the Board. The EIS application and approval process is, thus, compromised.”