Councillors oppose ‘eastern bypass’ to make M50 fully circular

National Transport Authority requires bypass provision as part of its 20-year strategy

Councillors have long opposed the development of a new motorway across Dublin Bay. Photograph: Frank Miller

Councillors have long opposed the development of a new motorway across Dublin Bay. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Dublin city councillors have defied a direction from the National Transport Authority (NTA) to preserve lands for an eastern bypass across Dublin Bay in the new city development plan.

However, the council’s law agent Terrence O’Keefe warned that the removal of references to the bypass from the plan was “illegal”.

Circular

Councillors have long opposed the development of a new motorway across Dublin Bay, which would make the M50 a fully circular route, and have previously voted the bypass not be included in development plans.

Last month, the NTA published its 20-year strategy for the greater Dublin area which includes a plan to develop the first section of the route, from the port tunnel to the south port area, and the retention of a “route corridor” from the docklands to the “southern cross/southeastern motorway” – the meeting points of the M50 and the M11.

Council management said that, as a result, it was compelled to amend the development plan to take into account national policy.

A new objective in the plan would “protect the route of the proposed eastern bypass... and for the longer term to retain a route corridor between Poolbeg and the southern cross/southeastern motorway via an eastern bypass of the city”.

Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who proposed one of eight motions against the bypass, said it would cost €4 billion and “effectively sterilises at least 50 hectares of land that could provide for 2,500 housing units within close proximity of the city centre, and could encourage further car-based commuting to the city”.

Labour’s Dermot Lacey said the council had “consistently voted against” the eastern bypass. “I don’t care that an unelected quango has decided an eastern bypass is right for Dublin, I believe it is wrong for Dublin,” he said. “Eastern bypass is a word officials have used for a road over and on top of Sandymount strand.”

Independent Paul Hand said a lot of housing or other transport infrastructure could be built for €4 billion instead of “effectively building a tunnel under Dublin Bay – a Unesco biosphere”.

Discretion

Assistant chief executive Jim Keogan said the bypass was now Government policy. “There is no discretion there for us to decide otherwise. That is the law as it stands and I’m obligated to follow the law.”

Meanwhile, councillors are expected to vote to block plans to increase the height of apartment buildings that can be constructed in the city.

City council chief executive Owen Keegan wants to allow apartment blocks up to 28m tall.

However, all councillors except Sinn Féin and several Independents are seeking to restrict the height of residential developments.