MEMBERS of Clare County Council have questioned plans for a new online motorway service area, claiming it could have a negative impact on businesses in Newmarket and Shannon.
A letter presented to this week’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District from Halcrow Barry stated, “Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is promoting a scheme to provide online motorway service areas at specific locations across the Irish motorway network. Halcrow Barry is the appointed consultant engaged by the TII to carry out the site selection process and design of the scheme.
“We previously presented to the Shannon Municipal District in November 2015, regarding the site selection process for an online motorway service area on the M18 between Junction 7 (Hurler’s Cross Sixmilebridge) and Junction 12 (Ennis).
“The site selection study is now complete and the preferred site has been identified as Site 1E. Site 1E is situated on the eastern side of the M18 in the townlands of Ballyconneely and Ballynacraffa, approximately 1.5km north-west of Newmarket-on-Fergus,” the letter read.
Councillor Gerry Flynn was first to voice his concern, saying the development “is going to put people out of business in Newmarket, Bunratty and Shannon”.
He said it is too near to off-road businesses in those three areas and that it would be best suited to an area off the motorway north of Crusheen.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Pat McMahon agreed with him, saying that while an array of services are available at the Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Newmarket would be able to offer all of them. He claimed it would be negative for local jobs and businesses.
Councillor Cathal Crowe said, in Britain, service stations adjacent to motorways were developed in the 1990s and have since been redeveloped with further facilities, “obliterating” local businesses.
He claimed that such a facility would actually be very welcome in North Clare, an area where a lot of facilities are lacking.
While he was not exactly enthusiastic either, Sinn Féin’s Mike McKee said he could see arguments both for and against the proposal, including one that jobs would be created by it.
By Owen Ryan