MOTORISTS passing through Parteen on Saturday morning were presented with the unusual sight of a human chain link protest against the proposed €100 million Limerick Northern Distributor Road.
Parteen residents joined hands in the middle of the road to remind people of the scale of the route corridor that is being planned, so they chose to fill the proposed corridor with people, where it bisects the village of Parteen.
There is an important vote coming before Clare County Council in June, which will, if passed, amend the county development plan to include the preferred route corridor for the controversial distributor road.
Ed English from the Concerned Northern Distributor Road Residents’ Association has pledged the group will continue working with and lobbying their local councillors in advance of their vote.
Mr English warned that residents will continue to voice their concerns about the impact this road is going to have on the locality, as it bisects a village, crosses a major flood plan and crosses the lower Shannon Special Area of Conservation.
They will be working to draw the councillors’ attention to the fact that the flood maps, which have been considered in the planning of this route, are only at draft stage and are not the final maps showing the extent of possible flooding in the Clonlara area.
If councillors vote to include the preferred corridor in the amended Clare County Development Plan, the next steps involve an environmental impact statement and, ultimately, an application to an Bord Pleanála.
However, Mr English warned residents will continue to make their voices heard at all available opportunities up to and including hearings in front of an Bord Pleanála.
Clare County Council has stated the Limerick Northern Distributor Road will improve accessibility to Limerick City from South-East Clare and relieving pressure on the existing river crossings in the city centre.
It believes the road will provide significant improvement in connectivity between different areas along the northern fringe of the city, allowing people living in residential areas to the east of Limerick to access employment areas in the west of Limerick and vice versa.
Once completed, the Limerick Northern Distributor Road will connect the Coonagh Roundabout with the old Limerick-Dublin Road. Phase One of the project, from Coonagh to Knockalisheen, is presently under construction.
The Route Corridor for Phase Two extends from the Knockalisheen end of Phase One and north of the University of Limerick (UL), before crossing the River Shannon to link up with the old Limerick-Dublin Road (R445) at the Cappamore junction.
In his submission to the council, Councillor Cathal Crowe described the proposed route as “offensive” to local communities, as it will lead to the demolition of a number of homes in the Gortatogher and Shankyle townlands of Parteen.
The Fianna Fáil councillor proposed that the council should publish and circulate an information leaflet to all homes along the proposed route line, informing members of the public of the planning restrictions in place.
He claimed the road would “divide the village in half”. On one side of this divide would lie the church, local primary school, pub, pitch and putt course and housing estates of Bishop Murphy Park, Ballykeelaun, Fairyfield and Fieldbrook.
On the opposite side of the proposed dual-carriageway, the Firhill housing estate, a ribbon development of one-off houses in Gortatogher, the HSE-owned Inisgile Residential Centre, the Dairygold Co-Op store, Clancy’s Service Station and Louis Craughan’s Butchers Shop would be left in a divided cluster.
“ I fear that the construction of a major road through Parteen would suck the life out of the village and transform this tightly bound, rural community into a suburban mishmash without identity,” Councillor Crowe said.
By Dan Danaher