Slane has a medieval bridge and an 18th century
road carrying 21st century articulated traffic…
The only long-term solution to the
ongoing traffic problem in Slane
is the construction of the bypass.

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Disbelief as An Bord Pleanála announce refusal of permission for Slane Bypass.

6th March 2012

Once again, there has been a serious failure to protect the Slane community. More unnecessary loss of life seems inevitable.

The Bypass Slane Campaign is shocked and dismayed by the decision of An Bord Pleanála to refuse permission for the construction of a Bypass around Slane village. Life in the village, over generations, has been overwhelmed by the dangerous volumes of traffic and by the constant threat to life it brings. We now feel that as we have exhausted every avenue open to us that we are now entirely helpless. The decades of inaction and failure to deal decisively with this appalling situation are nothing short of a national scandal.

The Slane Bypass is unlike most other road projects built over the last 15 years, most of which were built primarily to shorten journey times. The clear need for the Slane bypass relates directly to road safety. Twenty-two people have died on the roads of Slane so far, many others have suffered serious injury, while there have been countless, often unreported, lucky escapes. For over forty years our community has been convinced that the only solution to the serious road safety situation is a bypass of our village. Today our hopes of finally being freed from this intolerable situation have been completely destroyed with the decision of the Bord to refuse permission for the Slane bypass.

One of the more striking features of the Oral Hearing held this time last year was that even objectors to the proposal who participated agreed that the ongoing road safety situation in Slane was untenable. We find it difficult to understand how the Bord arrived at a decision that will impact so negatively on our community and ignore the very real dangers we face daily. There has been a serious failure to protect citizens of this State. The future now appears very bleak for Slane. What alternatives are left for us to fall back on now?

The Bypass Slane Campaign will closely examine the report from the Bord and assess what direction we should take from here. However, it is clear that t he full and final resolution of this intolerable situation rests entirely with the Minister for Transport, the National Roads Authority and Meath County Council. Minister Varadkar has repeatedly declared his understanding of the need for the Slane Bypass. In light of the Bord's decision, we will be seeking a meeting with the Minister as soon as possible and we fully expect him to act swiftly and decisively.

This cannot be the end of the line for the people of Slane - there is still a very
big problem to be solved. All that stands between us and the next major incident and inevitable loss of life is an unenforced speed limit and a couple of yards anti-slip road surfacing. Where do we go to from here? Who can we turn to and rely upon? Slane has been let down once again.

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An article in the Irish Times covering the announcement may be accessed HERE.

Planning refused for Slane bypass

TIM O'BRIEN and ÉANNA Ó CAOLLAÍ

Wed, Mar 07, 2012

Residents of Slane have said they are “shattered” and “devastated” following An Bord Pleanála’s refusal to approve plans for a bypass of the Co Meath village.

Meath County Council had sought approval for a 3.5km route crossing the River Boyne on a new bridge between the townlands of Fennor and Crewbane east of the existing Slane bridge.

In its refusal, the board said the proposed bypass, which was to be located some 1.1km to the east of the existing N2 Boyne bridge, which is within the “viewshed” of the of the Brú na Bóinne Unesco world heritage site, “would be acceptable only where it has been demonstrated that no appropriate alternative is available”.

Campaign group Save Newgrange, which opposes the bypass, has called for a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) ban in the village, while the Slane Bridge Action Group and the Slane Bypass Group expressed scepticism that such a ban could be enforced. The village crossroads is a major junction of the N2, the main Dublin to Derry road, and of the main Drogheda to Slane road, the N51.

Minister for State and local Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee said planning for an alternative route for the bypass “that will get through the planning process a second time” should begin immediately.

However, the National Roads Authority (NRA) said the board’s decision appeared to reject any proposed bypass of Slane and “is focused on a traffic management solution”. The authority said this was “disappointing especially for the people of Slane, but the NRA accepts the decision.”

The NRA was told last year to finish planning on all current road schemes and it does not have a budget to prepare a new route. Department of Transport sources said the decision, taken in the current economic context, effectively meant the bypass “will not be built in the next decade, at least”.

Meath County Council said it noted the decision with disappointment, but remained committed to finding a solution to the serious traffic and safety issues in Slane. “We will now examine the reasons for refusal and the report of the planning inspector and will work with the NRA to establish what further steps can be taken to address the issues raised by the Bord,” a spokeswoman added.

Speaking to The Irish Times, John Ryle of the Slane Bridge Action Group said the locals were “shattered and devastated” by the ruling. “We don’t see why aesthetics, a view, should be take precedence over people’s lives,” he said.

Mr Ryle said there were already extensive traffic calming measures in Slane and a 30km/h speed limit leading to the bridge, but nobody obeys it. “What respect does a runaway truck have for a speed limit whether it is 30km/h or 100km/h,” he asked.

Even if the ban worked, he said HGV traffic would simply divert through Navan or Drogheda rather than pay tolls on the M1 and M3 motorways.

He said some 22 people had been killed in crashes on the bridge, including two-year-old local toddler David Garvey and two people who died when their car exploded after a collision.

In another incident, a HGV failed to negotiate the sharp turn onto the bridge. It toppled over and slid along the parapet towards the centre of the bridge before tumbling into the river below, killing the driver. Two days later, the operator of the crane used to lift the wreckage from the riverbed died when the crane toppled into the river.

Mr Ryle said he believed there would be further crashes on the existing route in the absence of a bypass. Many more crashes went unreported because they were not fatal incidents, he said.

Slane Bridge Action Group spokeswoman Michelle Power also expressed regret at the decision. She said life in the village has been "overwhelmed" by the dangerous volumes of traffic. “We now feel that as we have exhausted every avenue open to us that we are now entirely helpless," she said. “The decades of inaction and failure to deal decisively with this appalling situation are nothing short of a national scandal.”

Ms Power, who survived a multiple pile-up on the bridge in 2009, said the planned route was outside the buffer zone around the Brú na Boinne and set in a valley. She said she believed the visual impact would have been acceptable in light of the loss of life on the road.

Save Newgrange spokesman Vincent Salafia welcomed the decision as "a huge victory for heritage and sustainable development in Ireland" and called for an "immediate" ban on HGV vehicles in the village. "The Unesco World Heritage Site is our most popular tourist attraction, which will play a key role in our economic recovery, and it deserves the highest level of legal protection,” he added.

An Taisce said An Bord Pleanála had made “an eminently logical decision and [which] has protected a very important piece of Irish National Heritage”.

Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne said this evening the decision was a "severe bodly blow" to the people of Slane.

"Meath County Council must meet immediately in order to gain approval for this request for a judicial review. My colleague, Cllr. Wayne Harding has already requested this in writing to the Cathaoirleach of the County Council and we await his reply,’ he said.

© 2012 irishtimes.com

 

For the Inspector's report and the Direction of the Bord, please follow THIS LINK.

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Contact us at bypassslanecampaign@gmail.com

Bypass Slane Campaign, c/o Slane Community Forum, The Village Inn, Slane, Co. Meath.