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New distributor road will slice through Clare farms

A MAJOR new ring road linking parts of South-East Clare with Limerick City will directly impact on 14 farms by either severing them or reducing the area of their holding, it emerged this week.
About 20 hectares will be taken out of production once the new Coonagh to Knockalisheen Distributor Road is constructed, according to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the scheme. The new road will pass mainly through the electoral divisions of Ballygrennan, Meelick and North Limerick where 30 dairy and 20 beef farmers are running enterprises.
The EIS has described the land quality in the area as good to poor with many areas reverting back to wetland. Land parcels are small and agriculture often extensive due to changes in zoning for development, the proximity of the site to existing development and poor agricultural lands.
Before any mitigation measures are put in place, the new road would have a severe impact on one farm, a minor impact on 10 farms, a major degree of impact on two farms and a moderate degree of impact on one other.
Of all affected farms, 79% of them are in the farm size category of less than 30 hectares. Six farms are leased out to local landowners who are primarily involved in grazing, beef, horses or silage production.
There are three land parcels that will be severed, with the existing access point affected or a new access point off an existing road may be required.
Following recommended mitigation works relating to severance, the residual impact would still be major on one farm.
The EIS noted a number of the farms are currently zoned for development as part of the Limerick Regeneration Plan.
An assessment of the existing agricultural environment was carried out through detailed farm surveys. The surveys assessed how the proposed road would impact on current farming practices on the affected land and what mitigation measures would be necessary to alleviate any negative impact.
An agricultural consultant contacted the 14 farms to conduct an appraisal of farm facilities and layout and to collect information to assess impact and required mitigation measures.
The report warned a “do-nothing” impact would maintain the existing situation of an increasing residential population served by substandard road infrastructure, which wouldn’t allow for further expansion of Limerick City.
Traffic congestion would increase along the Old Cratloe Road and Pass Road, as well as the substandard infrastructure associated with the current alignment of the Knocknalisheen Road.
The proposed Coonagh to Knockalisheen Distributor Road will provide, among other changes, a 2.6km dual carriageway on the north-western outskirts of Limerick City linking the Coonagh Roundabout on the N18 with the Knockalisheen Road in Meelick.

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