FARMERS opposed to a relief road through Clonlara and Parteen have indicated they will not co-operate when engineers arrive to survey their land in the coming weeks.
And they have the support of local Fianna Fail councillor Cathal Crowe who has this Wednesday called on Clare County Council to call a halt to the surveys until such time as more information on the €100 million second phase of the Limerick northern distributor road is made public. But Cllr Crowe also appealed to landowners not to overstep the mark and to remain within the law.
Officials at both Clare County and Limerick City Council have said there are obvious regional benefits for an overall scheme that is part of Limerick Regeneration’s aim to open up Moyross and the northside of Limerick.
And improving links between Shannon Airport, Limerick city, UL and industry at Plassey would stimulate economic growth for the betterment of the entire region.
But residents of Clonlara, Parteen and Lisnagry are up in arms over the selected route, arguing it will split communities and farms - and traverse a known floodplain aggravating flood risk in Clonlara - when better options were available.
Cllr Crowe believes state and semistate bodies including the University of Limerick, Shannon Development and the ESB - as well as private companies - may have been influential in ruling out other potential routes which the farming community argues would have been more suitable.
But a Freedom of Information request from Cllr Crowe to the County Council seeking the disclosure of the submissions of the above bodies was refused by the council on grounds of commercial sensitivity.
“At this Wednesday’s Killaloe electoral area meeting, I will formally table a notice of motion calling on Clare County Council to cease all surveying works on private lands along the proposed Limerick Northern Distributor Road (Phase II) route until such time as submissions made by state bodies, agencies and commercial entities during the project’s public consultation process have been made publicly available,” Cllr Crowe declared.
“My motion is in direct response to a letter issued by Clare County Council to all property owners along the proposed route line within the last fortnight. I have been contacted by several land and property owners along the route and they are incensed to have received these letters. Several have indicated that they will be uncooperative with surveyors or engineers who attempt to enter their properties. I have no issues with this so long as they act within the law.”
The letter to local landowners, dated June 26, advises of Clare County Council’s intention to carry out ground investigations between August and October.
Engineers are to visit farms to sink trial holes and carry out other surveying works. More detailed information is to issue to local landowners in the coming weeks, while the owners would also be compensated for any interruption caused by the surveying works. The Council plans to survey low-lying areas earlier in the contract and higher ground in the latter weeks.
But Cllr Crowe is demanding no work should be carried out until such time as the council is more transparent on the route selection process.
“More than €800,000 has been spent on surveying route options and every cent of this has come from the tax-payers. In an age of transparency and openness it’s beyond belief that they are expected to fund a road they don’t want and at the same time be denied vital information relating to the project,” Cllr Crowe said.