It is highly unlikely that the proposed Navan rail link can be economically viable if the M3 motorway is completed in its present tolled and over-specified format, the promoters of the Meath MASTER Plan have warned.
For Release 7/1/2008
Transport researcher Brian Guckian and environmental campaigner Tadhg Crowley have said that the forthcoming economic downturn made future capital funding for any rail link additional to the M3 extremely doubtful, especially as a railway would also take lucrative toll revenue from the motorway.
Mr. Guckian pointed to a study he completed in 2005 that showed the M3 in its current form would also generate total costs, conservatively estimated, of at least € 5.6 billion over 30 years due to its CO2 emissions, increased fuel dependency and tolling arrangements.
Mr. Crowley and Mr. Guckian added that the National Monument at Lismullin Co. Meath, which is now under threat from the M3 motorway works, can still be preserved and reconstructed using mechanisms provided for in the MASTER Plan, and that there were sufficient remaining structures and archaeological data on hand to facilitate this work. It would then be protected, along with other important sites in the area, via designation of the region as a UNESCO World Heritage site called the Meath World Heritage Park.
The MASTER Plan - standing for Model Archaeological and Sustainable Economic Region - is an advanced development plan that solves the current issues around the controversial M3 motorway without any re-routing, preserves the Tara Landscape as a cultural resource, and provides a high-quality rail link serving the population centres of Ashbourne, Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells.
A further element of the Plan is conversion of the northern "footprint" of the M3 beyond Dunshaughlin to the "2+1" road format and the replacement of the section through the Tara-Skryne Valley with 2+1 on the existing N3 primary road. The modifications would be made possible by dramatically reduced traffic volumes brought about by the complementary rail and coach services which would operate at high-frequency and capacity.
These aspects of the plan would save € 350m in costs that would then be used to buy out the project's toll scheme and permit rapid re-construction of the nearby rail link, which has been delayed indefinitely due to competition from the double-tolled motorway.
Mr. Guckian and Mr. Crowley said that they were satisfied that they had submitted a creative, responsible and extremely cost-effective plan to government, and welcomed broad support for the framework to date. "Sustainable development brings with it very significant economic savings and benefits, and we believe we have offered an excellent choice on this issue to those in power; one that represents effective, "joined-up" thinking. The works in the Tara-Skryne Valley can be halted immediately and our proposals implemented; it is simply a matter of collective will on the part of the Cabinet", they said.
The Plan has been circulated to the Taoiseach and to several Ministers including those with responsibility for Transport; Environment; Energy & Communications; and Arts, Sport & Tourism. It is also with Meath County Council and has been available to the public since its launch in September. A detailed Implementation Roadmap for the Plan was circulated to government departments prior to Christmas.
Brian Guckian 087 9140105