Positive reaction to Limerick councillors' approval of Northern Distributor Road

But East Limerick Action Group are sharply critical of the decision to vote through changes

Positive reaction to Limerick councillors' approval of Northern Distributor Road

The East Limerick Action Group produced this image claiming the red lines above are where the Northern Distributor Road would cross - right through a flood plain

THERE has been a largely positive reaction to the council’s greenlight for the €150m Northern Distributor Road among the business and education community.

But the plan – slightly altered from the one voted down in 2015 and passed overwhelmingly this week by councillors – has been criticised by the East Limerick Action Group (ELAG), who are bitterly opposed to it

Councillors voted in favour of the changes, allowing the plans for the road to proceed, by 33 votes to 3, following a lengthy debate this Monday. The vote means a variation in the county development plan and allows for the next stage of the project, the detailed design of the road, to proceed.

The councillors who voted against the proposed link were Fine Gael’s Michael Sheahan, Labour’s Elena Secas and Solidarity’s Paul Keller. Four councillors were absent during the vote.

Limerick council CEO Conn Murray suggested during the meeting that the full planning process could take up to 18 months and he made several commitments relating to the principal concerns for the project.

Limerick Chamber, UL and the Shannon Group have all welcomed the vote on Monday, with Chamber CEO James Ring saying the councillors “voted for progress”.

"This is another significant moment in the modern success story that is Limerick. After a torrid last decade, the past five years, in particular, have seen a real awakening in Limerick and this has largely been achieved as a result of key stakeholders working together for the greater good of the city, county and region," he said.

"The result is that we have moved a vital step closer towards delivering a key piece of infrastructure that will drive economic development on the north side of the city."

Shannon Group CEO added to this sentiment, saying the NDR would be a stimulant for further growth on the north side of Limerick and, in turn, would be positive for the region.

UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald said the road was “important both to the long-term growth of our city and UL”, adding that it would “need to be delivered in a manner that is sensitive to both the environment and the community”.

However, Noel O’Connor, spokesperson for ELAG, said the group “regretted the decision to allow the route to proceed to the planning stage” and said it hoped that “Limerick didn’t end up bitterly regretting a decision that carries with it a clear and identifiable risk of flooding – and a risk, moreover, that was entirely avoidable.

“Obviously we accept the vote and we’ll have to trust that other bodies like Bord Pleanala can explain why we really shouldn’t be thinking about building a motorway through a flood plain that has experienced so-called ‘Once-In-A-Century’ flooding events no less than three times in the last decade,” Mr O’Connor explained.

Addressing specific concerns about Mountshannon, Conn Murray said at the meeting that “construction work on the Northern Distributor Road will not commence unless an appropriate flood relief scheme has been agreed for the Mountshannon area as part of the Limerick City Flood Relief scheme”.