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Friday 20 September 2019

Bus Connects: 'It's not about compensation - people want their gardens'

'On the one side there is a need to make commuting more efficient and safe, but on the other there is no doubt that if the plan was to go ahead in its current format it would change the look and feel of Dublin as we know it in an irreversible way.' Photo: Rollingnews.ie
'On the one side there is a need to make commuting more efficient and safe, but on the other there is no doubt that if the plan was to go ahead in its current format it would change the look and feel of Dublin as we know it in an irreversible way.' Photo: Rollingnews.ie
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Since the day the plans for Bus Connects were first announced, there have been complaints about what it would do to Dublin communities and the landscape.

The plan to cut down mature trees and eat away at gardens to widen roads for traffic has been controversial.

On the one side there is a need to make commuting more efficient and safe, but on the other there is no doubt that if the plan was to go ahead in its current format it would change the look and feel of Dublin as we know it in an irreversible way.

The biggest stumbling block the National Transport Authority (NTA) has come up against in its master plan for Bus Connects is cutting down trees and taking away some of people's gardens.

It is an emotive issue. There are hundreds of mature trees lining our city streets that give those very roads their character and, as well as that, there are railings, walls, heritage structures and other things that make Dublin, Dublin.

The NTA says it will plant more trees than it cuts down, and that it can store historic railings and walls while works take place, and then reinstate them once garden space has been removed.

But conservationists and architectural experts say Bus Connects in its current format is at risk of destroying Dublin.

The NTA has two problems. It can't replace rows of trees that have been growing for more than 100 years with anything of a similar size or character, and even if it stores historic walls and railings while the fronts of gardens are removed, when they go back in place it will be in a wider street which conservationists argue will have changed radically and lost its soul.

Deirdre Conroy. Photo: Tony Gavin
Deirdre Conroy. Photo: Tony Gavin

Deirdre Conroy, a councillor living in Rathgar and an architectural heritage expert, said: "Heritage is about our surrounding environment. It is something that is very heartening. We need to preserve what is left.

"The compensation is not the driver. People don't want it. They want their gardens.

"During mid-terms and holidays the traffic is much lighter, so maybe the way around this is looking at school transport.

"School buses is a major thing I would like to see."

Donough Cahill, the executive director of the Irish Georgian Society, supports the shift towards more sustainable methods of transport, and knows the negative affects of traffic congestion on historic cities such as Dublin.

But, in the society's submission to the NTA, he spelled out its concerns.

"Really what we are saying is there is insufficient information on the impact this will have on historic Dublin, so it is not possible to properly assess it. Trees add to character and aesthetic of a city. The loss of trees to areas of and in the vicinity of protected structures will diminish their interest and the integrity of the area.

"From the documentation they have made available to us there is insufficient information provided to allow us to assess what impact it is going to have, so it would seem at this point in time what is being done is a desktop exercise to determine where routes are going to go," he said.

Irish Independent

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