THE National Roads Authority has allocated €350,000 to address issues raised by An Bórd Pleanála in relation to the proposed N86 Dingle to Annascaul and Gortbreagoge to Camp Road Improvement Scheme.
The extensive widening and upgrading of the road was the focus of numerous local objections, mostly on environmental grounds. Last November An Bórd Pleanála told Kerry County Council that while there is a need to upgrade the N86 route from Tralee to Dingle, the board was concerned with the scale of the road improvement scheme and the impact it would have on the environment. An Bord Pleanala's comments came as a significant blow to the road project, however the additional funding from the NRA now offers the council a means of getting the project back on track.
According to local Councillor Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald, this allocation of €350,000 in funding demonstrates the NRA's commitment to the scheme and bodes well for the €60 million project going ahead.
"In addressing the issues raised they may be able to make the necessary changes which may enable An Bórd Pleanála to give the green light to the road improvement scheme on the N86," he said.
In addition to the €350,000, a further €1.8 million has also been allocated by the NRA to finish off phase one of the road improvement scheme on the N86, the Annascaul to Gortbreagoge section of road, which is currently in the process of being completed.
"A campaign has been underway for years in an effort to upgrade the road from Camp to Dingle and this funding is a vital component in helping to achieve that goal," Cllr. Fitzgerald added.
An Bórd Pleanála made an indication to Kerry County Council that it needed to revise design aspects of the proposed N86 road improvement scheme citing concerns surrounding the "excessive loss of established tree lines, hedgerows, natural stone walls, woodland and seminatural habitats over the 28km length of the scheme".
The proposed scheme, which would have resulted in a typical overall finished road width of 16 metres (increasing to 28 metres or more in some locations) was deemed by An Bórd Pleanala as "excessive intervention into the landscape" and would have "an unacceptable, detrimental impact on the visual amenities and landscape character."
An Bórd Pleanála also outlined its "serious concerns in relation to the long-distance cycleway proposed alongside the national secondary route over the entire length of the scheme from Dingle to Camp", adding that it "might not offer an attractive recreational or amenity route, by virtue of the proximity of cyclists to the carriageway of a busy national secondary road".
An Bórd Pleanála added that it may be possible for the proposed road scheme to be redesigned to address concerns raised and that the board was "provisionally of the view that it might be appropriate to approve the proposed road development subject to certain alterations to the scheme."