Railway makes more sense than M3


Madam, - The recent debate about the privatisation of archaeology in Ireland (Letters, August 4th) is important to future projects, but largely moot to the M3, as the excavations there are now complete.

We now face only two major related issues at the Hill of Tara:

1. Does it now make economic sense to delay the reopening of the Dublin-Kells railway, but spend over €1 billion on the M3 toll road? The M3 is a waste of taxpayers' money, as Frank McDonald indicated last May, and a new cost-benefit analysis is needed now, to avoid economic ruin.

Five motorways - the M1, M2, M3, M4 and Outer Orbital Route - are not needed in the small county of Meath. The M3 will pass within five kilometres of the M2, which is non-tolled. Most of the M3 toll revenue will go to a multinational anyway. The economic justification for the M3 has evaporated in the 10 years since it was proposed.

The National Development Plan, along with the M3, was based on an assumption of over 4 per cent annual growth, which is now clearly aspirational. Exchequer revenues from the property sector, which amounted to 17 per cent of 2006 revenues, are set to plummet, long-term. Massively increased fuel costs and severe EU penalties for carbon emissions were not factored into the price.

The M3 should be cancelled, as it is still two years from completion. The Dublin-Kells railway should be immediately redeveloped instead, as it would take cars and drivers off the roads, increasing safety and reducing emissions. The taxpayer would benefit more if the M3 pathway through Tara was landscaped into a heritage trail, with the razed national monuments reconstructed.

2. Should Minister for the Environment John Gormley's proposal to make Tara a World Heritage site be approved by Unesco, if the motorway is completed through Tara? The Hill of Tara is clearly worthy of World Heritage status, but the M3 ruins the integrity of the site as a whole.

Unesco granted Stonehenge World Heritage status in 1986. One of the central planks of the current management plan for Stonehenge (adopted in 1998) is the re-routing of the A303 away from the stones and the closure of the A344, which runs beside the monument. This year the UK reneged on this plan, claiming it would cost a billion pounds, and Unesco is threatening sanctions. Unesco should state its position on Tara now, instead of turning a blind eye and threatening sanctions in the future. - Yours, etc,



Dublin 1.