O’Rourke fears rail line planning process will be delayed by objections

The government has been urged to move the Navan Rail project through the planning phase as soon as possible, to allow ample time for opponents’ concerns to be addressed.

Deputy Darren O’Rourke made the call following recent comments by Baron Randal Dunsany in which he expressed strong opposition to the proposed rail extension.

Deputy O’Rourke said: “The case for extending rail service to Navan is made. It is becoming more compelling day by day as the population of the county grows and the need to switch to active and public transportation becomes more evident.

“The whole county will benefit from the project, not just those who commute daily. It has the potential to transform the county socially, economically and ecologically.

“I was then concerned to see the widespread media coverage of the opposition reported to the project by an individual.

“We have a planning process. Everyone has the right to engage in this process on a fair and equitable basis, but we must be able to make decisions and move forward on major transportation projects like this without undue delay.

Speaking of his opposition to the railway line, Baron Dunsany told the Pat Kenny Show “I’m prepared to go to Mountjoy to protect it.”

The railway line could cross part of the Baron Dunsany estate which has been redeveloped into a nature reserve.

Deputy O’Rourke recently raised the need for the Navan Rail project to move forward with planning as quickly as possible in the Dail, saying that “in order to ensure objections are considered and the project is delivered as soon as possible.

“In response, Minister Eamon Ryan acknowledged that planning takes an inordinate amount of time in Ireland and pointed to an ongoing ‘top down’ review of the planning system led by the Attorney General.

He added that the associated review, update and recalibration of the Planning Act 2000 is one of the most important projects the government has underway. “He confirmed that it will be completed by the end of the year and will help not only this project, but a whole range of projects, to pass the planning process more quickly.

“I welcome the Minister’s response, but it must be accompanied by action. At the current rate of funding and progress on Navan Rail, we will only begin to examine these contentious planning issues in the second half of this decade.

Louisa R. Loomis