THERE was harsh criticism of the National Roads Authority this week, with warnings that Clare’s county councillors would be “only cutting our own throats” if Part 8 planning permission is given to plans by the NRA to build a salt depot on the old GAMA site at the Tulla Road Interchange.
At this week’s meeting of Ennis East Electoral Area councillors, Councillor Tommy Brennan criticised the plan describing it as a “farce” in light of the fact that Clare County Council recently developed three new salt barns to deal with the county’s roads.
The NRA are planning to take over maintenance of the motorway network throughout the country, with plans to establish similar depots in other regions. The proposed Clare depot would be used to maintain the motorways in Clare as well as parts of Galway and Limerick.
Speaking at this week’s meeting, Councillor Brennan stated, “This Part 8 is for the very people who are objecting all around the country to people trying to build a house. I don’t believe Part 8 should be used for this development, it should go through the normal planning processes.”
He raised concerns by the former owner of the land, which was acquired with a Compulsory Purchase Order. In objecting to the CPO, the former landowner argued that the land required for the bypass project was excessive.
“They took all the land, and they didn’t require it all,” said Councillor Brennan at the meeting. “If he wants to develop something at the back of his land in a few years’ time, it will be objected to by the NRA for the entrance being too close,” he commented. Councillor Brennan suggested a roundabout be put in place by Clare County Council to facilitate the landowner, with plans for the it to be included before the granting of planning permission.
“If this comes before Clare County Council with a roundabout in place it will have my support,” said Councillor Brennan.
Criticising the planned salt barns, Councillor Brennan described the NRA as a “quango” saying, “I see no reason for this. Government ministers are coming out every day saying they want value for money. We have four salt barns, three new ones, and this is a duplication of services. Just because the NRA have no function building roads because they are gone, they are setting up a quango and diversifying their services to give themselves something to do. What they are doing is doing away with local authority services.”
He urged that the Minister for the Environment be contacted to outlining the concerns. “The minister must be written to, explaining what we have done with our salt barns. This is a duplication of service and we are only cutting our throats. I think the planning permission should be turned down and the minister should be informed about what’s happening and I don’t believe he has been. We have enough salt to cover the county’s roads for two years and the salting we did is second to none. I see no reason this thing should go ahead, it’s a waste of time and money.”
He was supported by Councillor Sonny Scanlan who described the NRA as “a law unto themselves”, while Councillor Johnny Flynn urged that a secondary school be developed in the area rather than a salting depot.
County Engineer Tom Tiernan outlined to the meeting that the decision was taken by the NRA to assume full responsibility for the maintenance of the country’s motorways in 2013.
Similar planning proposals have been made in other parts of the country. He outlined that the facility was not just for the maintenance of motorways in Clare but for the region. He explained the new depot would mean a reduction of 20% in the amount of roads that would have to be maintained by Clare County Council.
Mr Tiernan stated the ultimate planning decision was for members of Clare County Council. He said he had “no difficulty” passing on the councillor’s reservations to the NRA. In relation to the issue with the landowner, Mr Tiernan said he has already said to the NRA that discussions need to be made with the landowner.