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M3 go-ahead as objector drops case


M3 go-ahead as objector drops case

Meath Chronicle
Sat, Oct 07 06


NRA looks to June 2007 start to biggest ever road project

Paul Murphy

THE 'Battle of Tara' is over.

The last legal obstacle to the long-delayed M3 motorway has been removed and work on the project will start in June of next year following an agreement by an environmental campaigner to end a legal action blocking the road's construction.

The news got a warm welcome across the political spectrum yesterday (Tuesday) and was described as a major boost to the creation of infrastructure in the county which would draw inward investment.

Mr Salafia's retreat from legal action - signalled in the Meath Chronicle last week - had been rumoured in the past 10 days. He said on Tuesday that he was pleased to announce that a settlement had been reached before the Supreme Court in his case against the Minister for the Environment, the Attorney General, Meath County Council and the NRA regarding the excavation and planned construction of the M3 "through the Hill of Tara archaeological complex."

He said he had accepted an offer from the other parties to settle the proceedings after advice from his lawyers that it was in the best interests of the campaign to preserve the integrity of the Tara complex.

In the agreement, he has agreed to withdraw his Supreme Court appeal in return for their pledge not to pursue him personally for costs, estimated to be s600,000.

Ominously, Mr Salafia said that the path was now clear for fresh legal challenges to the M3 at Tara by independent third parties, "one of which is understood to be under way." However, the NRA said this week that it knew nothing of any further legal actions against the project.

Mr Salafia had taken a judicial review of the 2005 decision of the Minister for the Environment Dick Roche and was granted leave by Justice Peart in July last year.

The hearing had been postponed by the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Joe Finnegan, in anticipation of the then pending Supreme Court ruling in the Carrickmines Castle/M50 case. The hearing went ahead in January 2005 after the Carrickmines had been postponed for a third time.

He said that the best result campaigners could have hoped for in the Supreme Court was a rehearing in the High Court, followed by another Supreme Court appeal. The substance of his case would now be brought directly to the Environment Directorate of the European Union and he was petitioning the EU to take legal action directly against Ireland for breaches of EU law.

The total length of the N3 from Clonee to north of Kells swill be around 60km and cover 700 hectares of land. It will be by far the biggest ever road project ever undertaken in the county. The scheme includes 60km of mainline and 50km of ancillary and access roads. The NRA said that some archaeological work had been undertaken but other major excavation would now take place in preparation for the start-up of the project "post-May 2007."

The removal of legal blockages to the construction of the M3 got a warm reception across the political spectrum.

The Mayor of Navan, Colr Tommy Reilly, said that the news that the way was now open for the building of the M3 was "brilliant."

He added: "It is long overdue and just what we need to bring business in County Meath. It should be a major boost in bringing industry in. It will also help us to service properly the needs of people who have come to live in the county."

He said that it was imperative that all interests in the county would now push for the railway line. This was a vital link in creating the infrastructure which would ensure that Meath was able to avail of inward investment.

Meath East Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee also welcomed the go ahead. "I am very pleased that work will shortly start on the construction of the M3 motorway. It will be welcome news to the thousands of harassed commuters who use the existing road to get to and from work and college in Dublin."

Many people had heartfelt views concerning the possible impact of the project on the historic area around the Hill of Tara, he said. "The experience of archaeologists should, I believe, be available during the project to advise the contractors who will construct the motorway."

North Meath TD Johnny Brady has welcomed the news. He said: "I welcome very much that Mr Salafia has withdrawn his objection and that common sense has prevailed at long last. This has been a long drawn out battle. It has gone through one of the longest oral hearings in the history of the State. It went through the planning process in Bord Pleanala, it went through the High Court and was now in the Supreme Court.

"I welcome the decision of Mr Salafia to withdraw his objection and this leaves the way open for construction to start and we will hopefully see the construction under way in the very near future."

Colr Brian Fitzgerald, welcoming the ending of legal process, said that, for too long, the development of the county had been held up. He hoped that a number of projects which had been in the pipeline, and were delayed because of legal action against the proposed M3, would now go ahead.

It was now time for interests in the county to make sure that the reopening of rail links in the county should proceed hand-in-hand with the construction of the motorway.
Posted by BrigantesNation
4th October 2006ce

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