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Ring road plan will spoil our future expansion, says biggest employer in west

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Galway city. Stock picture

Galway city. Stock picture

Galway city. Stock picture

The largest employer in the west of Ireland is warning its future expansion there is in jeopardy, because of plans to allow part of a major new road project to cut its largest campus in two.

Medical devices manufacturer Boston Scientific will this week tell an oral hearing into the planned 18km ring road around Galway city that a proposed link road will turn a private cul-de-sac on its Ballybrit campus into a busy public thoroughfare.

It says the link road will separate the main production building from other facilities, as well as land the company bought specifically for the purposes of expansion.

"It severs the Boston Scientific lands, significantly restricting future expansion and causing a serious adverse impact to a major national employer and foreign direct investor," the company states in its submission to An Bord Pleanála.

Boston Scientific employs 3,700 people in Galway and 5,000 in Ireland in total.

Besides salaries, it says it is worth €100m annually to the Irish economy through the purchase of goods and services.

It is one of several large employers who will go before the hearing, which is scheduled to run for 27 days between tomorrow and April 9, setting it up to be one of the country's longest-ever oral planning hearings.

More than 100 individual households, as well as numerous residents' associations and sporting and community groups, are scheduled to air their concerns and objections to the road.

Dozens of proposed compulsory purchase orders for homes and land will be needed for the €650m project.

Galway Racecourse fears it will have to cancel events, including its signature summer racing festival, during rock-blasting and construction of the ring road, a section of which will run through a tunnel beneath its stables.

Stables will have to be moved permanently, and while Galway Racecourse is open to the developer making this provision, Brooks Timber and Building Supplies says it appears it is their land that is to be compulsorily purchased to make way for the stables.

In their submission, representatives for Brooks say the move appears calculated to avoid a claim by a "potentially powerful objector".

"It amounts to a flagrant breach of our client's constitutional rights with a view to advancing the interests of a private third party," they say.

Another company, Clada Soft Drinks and Mineral Water, says the ring road will permanently disable both of its production wells.

Galway city suffers chronic traffic congestion and the idea of an east-west orbital route around the northern suburbs has been discussed for years.

Some residents, distressed at the prospect of losing their homes, will tell the hearing that the route has been chosen to avoid damage to wildlife, putting concerns for animals above those of humans.

Irish Independent