Dart project likely to be delayed

Article Posted: Thursday 9th July, 2009

Bord Pleanala's decision to ask the Railway Procurement Agency to ask for further information on Metro North is likely to have major ramifications for Irish Rail's plans to bring the Dart underground to Inchicore.

The planning board has sent the RPA a 32-pager seeking all kinds of information on the impacts of the Metro North projects on people and districts.

It raises the bar considerably for the level of detail that the planner of big infrastructural projects have to provide.

It is highly probably that Irish Rail was following the lead set by the RPA in planning the Dart project. We already know that the extension of this Dart project to Inchicore was tacked on a late stage in the past few months, leaving little time to get the required information together.

Now that far more information will be required than was originally anticipated, it is virtually certain that Irish Rail will not make their self-imposed deadline of September for applying for a Railway Order. Even the end of the year is unlikely.

Whether this is a good thing or not is another matter....

Under S41 of the Transportation Act 2001 An Bord Pleanála has made a request for further information (RFI) on Metro North to the RPA. This is the second such request this year.

The board’s request, which runs to 32 pages, makes a number of points including many which had been made by residents in their written submissions. It notes that the RPA’s application for a Railway Order as well as the format of the original environmental impact statement (EIS) “make it very difficult for the public and affected parties to determine specific impacts of the proposed development”.

Furthermore the EIS, prepared by consultants ERM, “does not address” the likely adverse environmental impacts from the diversion of utilities – electricity, gas, telecom and sewer lines – along the entire18km route.

The board is also seeking more information about flood risk assessment, park-and-ride sites, the impact of constructing a “cut-and-cover” tunnel through Ballymun, noise and traffic, and electromagnetic interference with sensitive hospital equipment and an environmental assessment of the impacts of utility works in Ballymun as well as Parnell Square, O’Connell Bridge and St Stephen’s Green.

RfR welcome the fact that the inspector has requested this information and note that under S41 if the RFI contains "significant data in relation to the likely effects on the environment of the proposed railway works" then the Board must require the RPA to do the following:
Keep the information in a designated place (such as on a website)
Publish notices in papers that the information is available for inspection and purchase for 28 days
Give a copy of the relevant extracts to all affected owners/occupiers mentioned in the draft railway order
Finally, S41 (4) of the act gives the public a right to make submissions in writing to the Board during this 28 day period.

RfR would like to encourage all affected parties to make such submissions and will inform you as soon as we are aware of the commencement of this period.

RfR hope to have the decision of the Information Commissioner in relation to the webcasting and the availability of daily transcripts prior to the recommencement of the oral hearings.