Delegation heads for Brussels to seek 'clarity'
A DELEGATION from Galway will travel to Brussels next week in the hopes of getting clarity over the controversial bypass plans for the city.
Local TDs and councillors will be joined by engineers from Arup - which is behind the six proposed routes for the bypass - in travelling to Brussels.
There they will meet with members of the Commission and Irish MEPs.
Mary Hoade, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, said the delegation hoped to get final clarity on whether the original bypass route could be progressed.
It was blocked on environmental grounds by the European Court of Justice in 2013, due to its impact on the integrity of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) relating to the limestone pavement.
However, debate remains around whether the route could still be progressed through the use of a clause in the EU Habitats Directive called 'Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest' (IROPI).
The clause states that projects which may have a negative environmental impact may still proceed if it's important enough .
Ms Hoade said the delegation had requested the meeting because of the growing concern over the newly proposed routes that could result in hundreds of homes being demolished.
"We want to clarify if we can go back to the previous route. We need to know exactly what our options are," she said.
She said the meeting would not delay the ongoing evaluation of the new routes and that a preferred option would still emerge from this process by the end of April.
"The commission is not going to pick a route for us but we need to know exactly what our options are. We need to know how many houses would have to be up for demolition before the IROPI process could be looked at.
"If it's not an option we need to move on. We are doing this in parallel with the ongoing process. A preferred route will be known by the end of April," she added.