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A bus and a truck negotiate Blakes corner in Ennistymon. Photograph by John Kelly.

End in sight for notorious Clare bottleneck Blake’s Corner

Ennis College Further Education

AN BORD Pleanala has given the green light for a new bridge in Ennistymon in north Clare that will eliminate one of the most notorious traffic bottlenecks in the country.

The appeals board has cleared the way for Clare County Council to press ahead with the new bridge that will end the long standing Blake’s Corner bottleneck that delays tens of thousands of motorists every year on their way to and from the Cliffs of Moher and Lahinch.

The new bridge – which will be 80 metres upstream of the existing bridge – will involve the demolition of one family home that includes a florist and a local branch of the Dept of Social Protection. The scheme also involves the pedestrianisation of the existing bridge.

In the long running saga, the Council applied for the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to allow the scheme proceed in June 2020 and confirming the CPO today, the appeals board has taken into account to what it describes as the community need, the public interest served and overall benefits, including benefits to Ennistymon town centre through improved traffic movement, improved public realm and setting of protected structures.

The appeals board also cited the proportionate design response to the identified need and that the objections to the CPO can’t be sustained having regard to the necessity of the project.

Two of the objectors to the scheme, John and Sheena Clancy, Bogbere Street, Ennistymon, told the appeals board that the CPO process has had a significant stressful impact on them as the proposal entails loss of a family home and business in which considerable investment has been made and consider it an inappropriate and disproportionate action by the Council

Branch Manager at the Dept of Employment Affairs & Social Protection, Bogbere Street, Ennistymon, Elizabeth McNamara told the board that the proposal entails demolition of two businesses and a private dwelling on which considerable effort and expense has been made upgrade them to their current condition and such contribute positively to the town.

Ms McNamara highlighted the importance of the Dept of Social Protection office in terms of facilitating a service that is essential for the local community, the fact that it employs a number of individuals and concerns about the lack of alternative properties to facilitate its relocation.

An oral hearing was held into the application over two days in June 2021 and in response to the objectors who will lose their properties, the council stated that “the home and business property owners will be suitably compensated and that alternative properties are available in the local area”.

The appeals board inspector in the case, Colin McBride found “that the significant benefits of the Inner Relief Road for the common good of the city, county and region outweigh the profound impacts on affected home and business owners and, on that basis, I consider the proposed acquisition of a dwelling, retail unit, office premises and part of funeral home premises to be generally acceptable”.

Ennistymon resident and Fine Gael senator, Martin Conway today welcomed the appeals board decision.

He said: “This had been a long process which is now ongoing since 2015. Seven years later we are now in a position where the planning process has been concluded.”

He said that the Council along with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) “now need to move through the tender process as quickly as possible so as construction of the new inner relief road can now happen as quickly as possible in order that the people who live and visit Ennistymon can do so with comfort and without the long traffic delays & congestion they constantly face”.

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