Decision on new DART line due by next month
Iarnród Éireann has only four weeks to acquire land for the €4bn Dart Underground project or risk being forced to reapply for planning permission.
The company has until September 24 to issue notices to treat - informing landowners in the path of the line that it will be taking control and ownership of their sites. The deadline has been imposed by the High Court follow- ing a legal challenge by Flancrest Enterprise Limited.
It owns a site on Bridgefoot Street, Dublin, part of which is earmarked for an escape shaft from the tunnel. Iarnród Éireann also intends using the site during construction works.
But the High Court ruled in March last year that a decision by An Bord Pleanála in December 2011 to allow the railway company seven years to acquire the property was too long.
The court ruled that a notice to treat had to be issued within 18 months of its ruling, which falls on September 24.
Michael McCabe, from Flancrest, said the site was unable to be used until a decision was made. It had previously secured planning permission for 33 apartments and retail units, which has since lapsed.
"We're prevented from making a new application as any application is premature until a decision is made," he said.
"We have been told it's suit-able for student accommodation, and the proximity to Guinness and the museum means it could also be a good location for a hotel. We're in limbo. If it lapses, and if the Government says in a couple of months that it intends to go again, they will again look for our property."
Dart Underground is a 7.6km subterranean link to connect the Northern and Kildare railway lines, with underground stations to be located at Spencer Dock, Pearse Street, St Stephen's Green, Christchurch, Heuston Station and Inchicore.
Expected to cost as much as €4bn, it will increase capacity on the Dublin network from 33 million trips per year to 100 million.
More than €43m has been spent on the project to date. Securing planning permission cost €1.435m, and these costs would have to be borne again if a new permission is sought.
However, the project has been suspended until the Government unveils a long-term capital investment plan in the autumn.
The Department of Transport said a decision from the Government would be taken on whether the project will go ahead in advance of the deadline passing.
"A project of this scale needs very careful consideration and evaluation," it said.