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Applegreen owner leading the charge against Supermac's plan for a plaza between Limerick and Galway

However, the plan has strong local support.

The Barack Obama Plaza
The Barack Obama Plaza
Image: Eamonn FarrellRollingNews.ie

THE OWNER OF the Applegreen brand is leading the charge against plans by Supermac’s supremo, Pat McDonagh to put build a €10 million Barack Obama Plaza-style motorway stop serving the Limerick to Galway motorway.

This follows the owner of the network of Applegreen service stations, Petrogas Group Ltd lodging a strident objection against the McDonagh plan which is bidding to locate a motorway service area just off the motorway at Skehanagh outside Ennis on the M18.

However, the plan has strong local support with 187 individuals lodging submissions with Clare Co Council voicing their support of the plan.

Currently, there is no motorway plaza on the motorway linking Limerick to Galway and Mr McDonagh has been unsuccessful over the past four years in getting the green light for the project.

As part of the proposal, Supermacs is planning to create 100 jobs during the operation phase and up to 80 jobs during the construction phase.

In its objection to Mr McDonagh’s fresh plan, consultants for Petrogas claim that the proposal is contrary to national policy for motorway service stops and is premature pending the concurrent proposed intention of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to develop an online motorway service area on the M18.

Petrogas also claim that the proposal is excessive for its rural location and would have a visual impact on the M18 and also have a negative impact on existing retail in Ennis town.

The plan is also facing local opposition with a number of prominent Ennis businesses including the Old Ground hotel, the Temple Gate Hotel, Hotel Woodstock and a number of service stations coming together to lodge a joint objection.

The objectors state that the provision of the extensive food offer, travel, tourist and information centre with ample car parking and coach parking will significantly detract from Ennis Town Centre.

The objectors also claim that the proposal will act as a counter attraction to Ennis and the nearby village of Clarecastle and will have a detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of those centres.

The objectors also state that the scale of the proposal is excessive in comparison to other motorway service areas permitted nationwide.

Also, the individual to bring the last application before An Bord Pleanala to conclusion after the Council gave the plan the go-ahead, Shane Brigdale has also lodged a fresh objection against the new plan.

In the objection, a consultant on behalf of Mr Brigdale claims that the plan will take business away from Ennis and its established environs; will sterilise a significant strategic land-bank west of the M18 and will hinder and compromise stated national, regional and local policy.

Supermac’s already has plazas in place at Moneygall in Co Offaly and another plaza near the M6 at Loughrea in Co Galway.

The Ennis plan will be seeking to repeat the success of the Barack Obama plaza at Moneygall.

Mr McDonagh first lodged plans at the site in 2014 and this was subsequently granted by Clare Co Council only to be turned down in 2016 by An Bord Pleanala.

The appeals board refused planning on three grounds and found that the proposed development, by reason of its design would not integrate satisfactorily with the rural and predominantly flat landscape in the hinterland of Ennis.

Previously, motorway service operator, Applegreen has been refused planning permission by Clare Co Council and An Bord Pleanala for its own motorway plaza near Dromoland Castle after the five star hotel objected to the plan.

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Gordon Deegan

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