THE proposed route of the Slane bypass in Co Meath will run just 500 metres from the edge of the ancient Newgrange complex.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) yesterday released an environmental impact study for the route which shows that although it skirts the perimeter of the Bru na Boinne complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it would be almost 3km from the famed burial chamber at Newgrange.
Planning permission for the 3.5km dual carriageway has been sought from An Bord Pleanala, and the NRA said the proposed route would have the "least impact" on the archaeology and heritage of the area.
It is planned to run to the east of Slane village, which is on the busy N2 road linking Dublin with Derry and has been the scene of at least 22 fatal traffic accidents in recent years.
Included in the scheme is a new bridge over the River Boyne, which will be around 200 metres long.
Bypass Slane Campaign group spokesperson Michelle Power said: "We welcome the plans and look forward to the day permission is granted and funds are allocated for its construction. After numerous fatal accidents human life must take precedence."
Brian Taylor, of An Taisce in Meath, said the route seemed to be the "least offensive" option. Documents for the planning application show there are 44 archaeological and cultural sites within 500 metres of the route.
Officials from the Department of the Environment have contacted UNESCO to make them aware of the application, and the department will make a submission to An Bord Pleanala in the coming weeks.
Environment Minister John Gormley said it would have to be proven that the road would not impact on Bru na Boinne, which includes Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
"Any proposal that would damage or impact on the World Heritage Site status is not acceptable," he said.