Header Item EU Regulations (Continued)
 Header Item Greenways Development

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 927 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page

Deputy Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan The new runway, for which planning permission was granted in 2007 has the potential to create jobs and boost the economy. However, the permission came with conditions and the plan by the DAA to seek the setting aside of two of these conditions, conditions 3 and 5 regarding night-time flying and noise restrictions, has been strongly resisted by the local communities. What is especially concerning is the Minister's intention to appoint the IAA as the competent authority to implement this regulation which calls for a balanced approach to airport noise control balancing the potential economic benefits with the potential negative impact on the surrounding communities. If this legislation goes through, the IAA will be the only body empowered to make determinations and operating restrictions to apply at the airport and the IAA will not be bound by operating restrictions foreseen in the planning permission granted in 2007 for the new runway at Dublin Airport. I do not see how this could be supported in this House.

In the Minister's reference to whether it will be a statutory instrument or primary legislation, it would seem that if these powers are given effectively to overrule previous conditions, primary legislation would be required in terms of the planning Acts. That is my understanding. Maybe it is not in the Minister's area.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank the Deputy. I appreciate his concern. I note many of his constituents are concerned about this. The Deputy would be welcome, like others, to bring in any delegation of groups he wants in order that my officials and I can listen to what they have to say. I am impressed by the ones who have come in already. I am impressed by their concerns and by the fact that much of what they seek is reasonable. Some of them have had to put up with dreadful noise under the old regime. This is not a new problem, as the Deputy will be aware. Several residents have suffered under this for many years. That is why I welcome the opportunity to appoint a new authority which will not be self-regulating, as was the last authority, the DAA, in this issue which would chronically conflict it in this way.

On the appointment of the IAA, I must concede to the Deputy that I agree it is not perfect. There are one or two problems, but we made it as good as we possibly can. It is the best possible solution. Under EU rules, a body like this with a dual function is allowed. It has been permitted specifically in this case. The EU will allow this and regards it as totally independent under that status.

Deputy Brendan Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan For the Minister to say specifically that the IAA, as the new competent authority, will not be bound by conditions in previous planning permissions is a major problem for planning law and planning decisions in the past. For better or worse, the people see this as a means to assist the DAA to get around the problem it has with those conditions. The DAA has every right to seek to change the conditions at any time, but the key point is it must be through the same planning laws and procedures that granted the permission and decided upon the conditionality in the first place. If the Minister sticks to his guns on this one, there will be wholesale opposition to it and, as Deputy Troy indicated, it will be difficult to get primary legislation on it through the House. I would ask the Minister to reconsider his position on it.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross It is a pity to prejudge the decisions of a new body which has not even come into existence at this stage. No doubt the Deputy will find, because it is a new body, that it will be an improvement. I stated in answer to Deputy Ryan's first question that it is not perfect. There is no perfect solution to this problem. That said, I think he will find it will be independent, impartial and sensitive under its mandate to the wishes of the residents about whom the Deputy is concerned.

There is also another element of which I am sure the Deputy is aware. When he states this new body's decisions may be difficult to justify, there is an appeal mechanism under its establishment which will allow anybody to appeal to another completely independent authority - it is a bit clumsy to have so many independent authorities, but it is necessary - in case they feel that there is no justification for the decision which is made. An independent authority will be set up with another independent body, appointed by the Minister and consisting of independent persons who have expertise in this area, to make decisions on what the IAA has decided. One will not get a better structure than that. I can see where the Deputy thinks it might not work in practice but I think it will be the best possible solution. We will monitor it closely.

Greenways Development

 6. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross when he expects the proposed greenway from Dublin to Galway to be completed; his proposals to resolve issues that have arisen among parties along the Athlone to Galway section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33006/16]

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Minister will be familiar with the greenway between Mullingar and Athlone, and into Ballymahon. The Minister visited on a number of occasions. We have always welcomed him because, in fairness, he has made much-needed funding available. As I have always said when raising the need for additional funding in my constituency, the greenway will not reach its full potential until such time as it runs from Dublin across to Galway. There is a major issue between Athlone and Galway in progressing the next phase. I want to know today how the Minister intends to resolve the issues and concerns of the landowners affected in this area.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I seem to be spending more time discussing the issues in Athlone than anywhere else when I am answering questions on this particular body, partly, through no fault of Deputy Troy, because I seem to be familiar with those issues. This greenway is a good litmus test. It is a good question and I will address it.

My Department is developing a new strategy to set out a cohesive and forward-looking approach to the development, funding and promotion of greenways. As part of this process my Department will consult all stakeholders in the coming months. This proposed strategy will include a recommended approach to be taken by authorities and agencies tasked with delivering greenway infrastructure where engagement and consultation with landowners is required and, when finalised, will inform the approach to be taken to progress delivery of the section of the Galway to Dublin greenway between Athlone and Galway.​

I was pleased to be in a position to award funding in July this year to a number of greenways where good progress was being made. This included funding for sections of the Galway to Dublin greenway in counties Kildare and Meath. The focus of this funding allocation was for those sections of the Galway to Dublin greenway where planning permission is in place and I expect that by the end of 2017 this will have facilitated progress on construction to the extent that it will be possible to cycle from Maynooth to Athlone entirely on segregated high-quality greenway.

I remain committed to achieving the delivery of this coast-to-coast greenway that will help to position Ireland as a destination for cycling holidays. I understand that the number of tourists cycling while on holiday in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years, from 66,000 in 2009 to more than 200,000 in 2015. While this is a small percentage of the total numbers visiting Ireland, it shows that there is a growing market for cycling tourism and this can be further exploited by a cohesive approach to the future development of greenways which I intend to pursue through the development of a new greenways strategy. I am determined to see this greenway in being and to clear it up.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy I am glad the Minister has, once again, acknowledged that he is listening to what I am saying on this side of the House and when I requested additional funding for a part of this section, he granted it. This is a national scheme. It is not parochial. It is not unique to my constituency. It is for the betterment of the tourism sector in general. That is why we need it to run from Dublin to Galway and for the project to advance to the next stage.

The question I ask refers in particular to the section between Athlone and Galway because I am very familiar with the funding that has been made available to the other sections of the greenway. There is considerable concern and anxiety about the affected landowners between Athlone and Galway. That is why the project was shelved over 18 months ago, although I acknowledge it was before the Minister's time.

Last Updated: 20/02/2018 14:12:27 First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page