Thursday 22 March 2018

Metro North gets final go-ahead from planners despite doubts

Paul Melia

AN BORD Pleanala has given the final go-ahead for the Metro North light rail project despite major doubts about its future.

The planning appeals board granted permission yesterday for construction of a depot for the light rail system, meaning the final piece of the project is now is place and the entire scheme now has permission.

But Transport Minister Leo Varadkar is likely to shelve it next month when the Government announces its new national development plan, which will set out what major infrastructure projects are likely to go ahead up to 2016.

Almost €150m has already been spent on the Dublin project -- almost €80m of it on design and bringing the project through the planning process. Another €26m has been spent on land and property, and €46m on pre-construction works.

Last October, the board granted permission for a 15km line linking St Stephen's Green with Swords, but it asked the state agency behind the project, the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) to re-submit plans for a depot at Dardistown near Dublin Airport.

The depot was approved yesterday, as well as the go-ahead to acquire lands owned by GAA clubs Na Fianna and Whitehall Rangers, Fingal County Council and Dublin Airport Authority.

The permission lasts for 10 years, meaning the RPA will not have to seek new planning permission if the project is postponed. Two companies are bidding, Celtic Metro and Metro Express. The RPA will pay the board €69,461 to cover the cost of processing the application.

Irish Independent

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