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Search words: tara
EU Commission Tackles Ireland
Sunday July 15, 2007 01:37 by EU Watch
This may be the biggest story published in the newspapers this year.... is anyone paying attention??
(Copy of Sunday Business Post article from SaveTara.Com)
Direct weblink: http://www.savetara.com/articles/2007/070807_ndp.html
Headline: EU challenges €184bn NDP
By: John Burke and Pat Leahy.
Article: The government and the European Commission are on a collision course over the €184 billion National Development Plan (NDP), following a formal warning from the EU that the entire project is in breach of European law.
The Sunday Business Post has learned that EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas sent a letter in the past few days to the government, saying that the commission believed Ireland's failure to conduct a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the project was in breach of a key 2001 EU directive.
Should the commission be successful in its action, aspects of the NDP would have to be halted and undergo a mandatory consultation process with stakeholders and the public, during which it faces major amendment.
The Department of the Environment confirmed that it had received the letter from the commission. It said that it had passed the matter to the Department of Finance.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance said that the government was "taking a very firm view that it was not in breach of any directive".
Legal advice had been obtained prior to the drafting and publication of the National Development Plan, he said, which strongly advised that no SEA was required. "The NDP is a budgetary framework document, and doesn't require an SEA. That remains our firm position".
However, it is understood that there is unease among some in government about the possible implications of the commission's action.
The government has been given until next month to reply to the formal warning, after which the EU commissioner can issue a further warning before bringing Ireland to the European Court of Justice to compel compliance.
A spokesman for EU environment commissioner Dimas confirmed that the government had received a formal warning recently, but declined to comment further.
The current phase oft he NDP provides €54.6 billion for investment in economic infrastructure; €49.6 billion for social inclusion measures, such as increased disability spending; €33.6 billion for social infrastructure, including justice; €25.8 billion for schools and higher education, and €20 billion for enterprise, science and innovation.
The commission has also raised concerns over the destruction of an archaeological find at Lismullin in Meath, sanctioned by former minister Dick Roche, connected to the M3 tara motorway.
© Sunday Business Post, 8th. July 2007.