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Arup The proposed route.
# Controversial
Galway ring road: Minister says transport plans must include climate as planning permission axed
The green light had been given to the contentious proposal last year.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 14th 2022, 6:02 PM

PLANS TO DEVELOP a new ring road in Galway to alleviate congestion have been scrapped after An Bord Pleanála said it did not take into account the State’s Climate Action Plan when considering the development. 

The green light had been given to the contentious proposal last year. But now this planning permission is set to be quashed.

Minister for Climate and Transport Eamon Ryan said the government will engage with Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Galway City and County Councils following the decision.

“We have to integrate the Climate Action Plan and Ireland’s climate obligations into transport plans,” the minister said.

“We will listen to An Bord PleanÁla and assess next steps.”

Senator Pauline O’Reilly who originally lodged a submission against the Ring Road and in favour of a climate resilient solution for Galway welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála.

She said: “An Bord Pleanála agreeing decision to quash the Galway Ring Road today. They admit to not having taken the Climate Action Plan into account. Now it’s time to ramp up an approach to reducing traffic through public and active travel. A reimagined Galway is needed.”

Proposals for a road to relieve the city centre of some traffic have come and gone, dating back to the late ‘90s when studies were carried out in preparation for a bypass.

A proposal for an outer bypass was approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2008, but the plan was effectively back to square one in 2013 following a trip to the European Court of Justice, an investigation by our sister site Noteworthy reported last year.

Galway City and County councils and Ireland’s transport infrastructure state agency said they were disappointed with the decision not to oppose the judicial review.

Friends of the Irish Environment had taken a High Court case against An Bord Pleanála, Ireland and the Attorney General, and Galway County Council over the decision to approve the ring road on 8 November 2021.

In correspondence issued on Friday to the informed parties, An Bord Pleanála said it was not aware that the new Climate Action Plan had been adopted four days before the decision was made.

It said: “The board held five meetings to consider the application before making its decision at its fifth and final meeting on November 8, 2021 at which it decided to grant permission for the proposed road development.

“The board was not aware at this meeting that a new Climate Action Plan 2021 had been adopted four days previously on November 4, 2021 (adoption of same had not been communicated to the organisation).

“The board accepts that, in particular in the context of the proposed development at issue and the decision in this case, the failure to consider the new Climate Action Plan 2021 in accordance with section 15 of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 as amended prior to making its decision is sufficient to vitiate the lawfulness of its decision.

“Accordingly, the board is consenting to an Order of Certiorari on that basis,” it said, suggesting that the original decision is to be quashed.

An Bord Pleanála is to propose adjourning the proceedings, as well as two related cases, on Monday for mention in three weeks’ time.

Galway County Council, Galway City Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) issued a joint statement to say they were “disappointed” An Bord Pleanala had indicated it would not be opposing the judicial review proceedings on “very limited ground”.

The statement said: “Notwithstanding this setback, Galway County Council and Galway City Council are confident that the issues arising can be resolved and as a result intend to continue to progress the delivery of the N6 GCRR project.”

It said the Galway ring road, or the N6 GCRR, is “a key” component of the Galway Transport Strategy (GTS) and as the city and the surrounding area continue to grow.

“It addresses the transport problem in Galway City by adding trip capacity to the existing transport network thereby reducing trips through the city centre,” it said.

“Furthermore, once the GTS is fully implemented, which includes interventions to re-allocate the freed road space in the city centre to public transport, there will be an even greater significant shift to public transport and sustainable transport modes.”

The controversial 18km road, estimated to cost €600 million, had been aimed at alleviating traffic congestion in the city which has been an issue in Galway for years.

The road would have looped around the north of the city, giving drivers a way to access outer parts of the city and pass from east to west without entering the centre.

It was also intended to free up road space for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport in the city centre.

However, its critics said the proposal will do none of these things, and will simply be a costly, “overkill” solution to the congestion problem. 

With reporting by Orla Dwyer, Press Association and Lauren Boland

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