Dublin City Councillors had an opportunity to block the Sandymount cycleway but they chose not to, the High Court has been told.
It was therefore entirely incorrect to say the project was pushed through without democratic or public participation, Stephen Dodd SC, for the council, said.
He was outlining the council’s opposition to a challenge by a Sandymount resident and a local councillor to the planned two-lane protected cycle route along the Strand Road from Sean Moore Road to the Merrion Gates. It will involve the north-bound vehicular lane being removed and replaced with one outbound lane and a cycle track.
Resident Peter Carvill and Independent councillor Mannix Flynn say they are not completely opposed to the scheme but contend it was pushed through without proper process. They also claim that an alternative proposal to accommodate the cycleway, without losing an entire vehicular traffic lane, was not properly considered.
They say it will cause considerable inconvenience and traffic disruption for local residents and businesses. They strongly dispute the council’s assertion it is exempt development because it was a traffic calming measure.
They also argue the council incorrectly decided the project did not require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and appropriate assessment (AA). The road adjoins Sandymount strand which is a special area of conservation.
In his submissions, Mr Dodd said the issue for the court was whether the council had the power to do what it did. The council maintains it had such power and the law affords a considerable margin of appreciation to the council in balancing the various interests involved, he said.
The applicants claim this was a solely “executive driven” project among city officials with no involvement by elected members was entirely incorrect, he said.
A motion was put before city councillors in February which gave them an opportunity to pass a resolution to prohibit the cycleworks but they did not do so, he said. It was thus incorrect to say there was no democratic involvement.
The applicants claimed there was an inadequate screening process which decided an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and appropriate assessment (AA) were not required, he noted.
Mr Dodd said this was a trial scheme which, following a review in six months, will then require another EIA/AA process and screening process.
Asked by Mr Justice Charles Meenan if that could be avoided by simply rolling over six month trials, counsel said that is not the intention and would be completely illegal.
The case continues next week.