IMAGE: An artist’s impression of College Green as envisaged by the Draft City Centre Transport Assessment Study
A report outlining a practical vision of how to give cyclists, pedestrians and public transport extra space on Dublin city centre streets is expected to be finalised and released in the first half of this year.
Following the coverage of the Draft City Centre Transport Assessment Study, by the The Irish Times in September, this publication requested a copy of the draft study from the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council.
Both rejected the request which was made under environment freedom of information, the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) regulations.
However, in its rejection letter in October, the NTA said: “It is anticipated that the study will be finalised and available in the first half of 2014.” It said Dublin City Council and the NTA continue to work on the study.
Both the council and transport authority used the reasoning that the document was a draft document as a reason for rejecting the request. The regulations state: “(2) A public authority may refuse to make environmental information available where the request…(c) concerns material in the course of completion, or unfinished documents or data.”
The NTA said: “In relation to the document requested, its full title is “Draft City Centre Transport Assessment Study”. The word ‘Draft’ is not simply an additional discretionary word in the title, but rather at the essence of the document – the City Centre work undertaken by the NTA is preliminary and conceptual in nature, intended to inform an ongoing discussion between the NTA and Dublin City Council, as to how the city centre traffic and surface transport could be managed, and to provide a broad framework against which a programme of investments might be developed.”
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The authority added: “The document is not in any way complete, as it requires significant Dublin City Council response and input, and further work by the NTA. On that basis, it is not appropriate nor in the public interest that the document be released by the NTA at this time.”
COMMENT: Due to our own time constrains we were unable to appeal the decision. However, this publication is of the view that the public interest is not severed by the debate about the future of Dublin’s streets happening behind closed doors between the council and the NTA. Given that the draft study was complete enough to include artist’s impressions, once the document was leaked to The Irish Times it should have also been released publicly with the clear warning it was a draft document.