— Hyde claimed scheme would have no climate impact, when planning inspector and council report said otherwise.
A new dual carriageway and other distributor roads planned a short distance from the M50 in Carrickmines — which An Bord Pleanála inspector called “outdated and unreflective of sustainable movement and place-making” — is progressing towards construction.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has tendered for contractors to construct the roads which form the Glenamuck District Road Scheme is expected to start in Q1 2023. The project is a mix of dual carriageway and other roads. The project setting is part suburban and is to become more urban as housing is developed in the area.
The An Bord Pleanála inspector was overruled by the board, with an order signed by Paul Hyde, the then deputy chairperson of An Bord Pleanála. The planning inspector had highlighted council data which shows the road will increase emissions, but this was dismissed in the order signed by Hyde.
Regarding the Glenamuck District Road Scheme, in the board’s order, Hyde said: “The proposed road development would have significant positive effects on Population and Human Health in terms of the increased benefits in terms of shorter journey times and a reduction in traffic hazard for pedestrians and cyclists and other road users.”
However, the planning inspector, Donal Donnelly, claimed in his report that the project would have an adverse impact on human health and climate, with “improved car journey times and increased car dependency discouraging the use of more sustainable transport modes and impacting on the health and well-being of the local population.”
The planning inspector said that an alternative of a local system of roads serving the area “may have the dual benefit of encouraging local trips by sustainable modes whilst minimising traffic flows to nearby strategic roads”. He said that the council’s Environmental Impact Assessment Report “does not assess the impact of such an alternative scenario.”
Donnelly said: “I would be of the opinion that the proposed development will give rise to increase traffic and associated emissions that may have a nationally imperceptible but nonetheless cumulative impact on climate change. It was submitted on behalf of the applicant at the hearing that the proposed scheme will result in 4,855 tonnes of CO2 in the opening year of 2020 and 9,239 tonnes of CO2 in the design year of 2035. This represents a change of 701 tonnes and 2,560 tonnes of CO2 in 2020 and 2035 respectively…”
The order signed by Hyde dismissed this without providing any details of how it was untrue. The order said: “…the Board considered that the proposed road development would not have an adverse impact on climate associated with improved car journey times or increased car dependency as the use of more sustainable transport modes is actively encouraged and facilitated through the proposed road development which will also provide viable public transport alternatives…”.
The idea that large new roads are justified based on public transport being able to use such is a common theme among supporters of large-scale road building. It was an argument used heavily in the 1960s/1970s by those building large-scale roads when challenged about the alternative of public transport investment.
“Hopefully” the last road of its type built in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Cllr Oisín O’Connor (Green Party) said: “This road project has been in the pipeline for many years having been approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2019 and been part of local area plans going further back. It’s hopefully the last such road built in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown as the new climate legislation and carbon budgets mean that planning authorities have to give greater weight to climate impacts.”
He said: “I’m happy that my requests that the designs be revised by the active travel team were listened to and that the new junction layouts will be much more walking and cycling-friendly.”
“There are unfortunately many roads projects still provided for in our County Development Plan. It’s unlikely these will ever get built because of their climate impact and their reliance on the fantasy that extra road capacity eases congestion,” said O’Connor.
He added: “Every engineer assigned to work on road expansion is a choice made not to prioritise the spending of the record levels of walking and cycling budget that’s available from the current government.”
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