For Release 14/3/2008
THE Cabinet has been sitting on a sustainable and practical solution to the problems posed by the construction of the M3 motorway since last September and has neither examined nor done anything to implement it despite overwhelmingly positive feedback, a co-author of the Meath MASTER Plan, independent transport researcher Brian Guckian, said today.
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.
The Plan allows for 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 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, and also pointed to a study he completed in 2005 that showed the M3 in its current form would 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.
He added that National Monuments in the Tara-Skryne Valley now under threat from the M3 motorway works could still be preserved and reconstructed using mechanisms provided in the MASTER Plan, and that there were sufficient remaining structures and archaeological data on hand to facilitate this work. The valley 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 Plan was circulated late last year 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. A detailed Implementation Roadmap for the Plan was circulated to government departments prior to last Christmas.
Mr. Guckian said that there had been no negative comments made concerning the Plan by the relevant government departments and civil servants, and that it had been looked on extremely favourably. He said the Cabinet could implement the innovative ideas contained in the Plan, and modify the current M3 scheme in the national interest, at any time if they chose to. "It is simply a matter of will on the part of the Cabinet; it is a choice, and to say anything else is just an excuse", he concluded.
Brian Guckian 00 353 87 9140105