Saturday 24 August 2019

Kevin Myers: We don't need BP to go prospecting in our waters to face ruin, Metro North will do it

Kevin Myers

I return once again to Metro North -- aka Necro North -- with my only apology being that I didn't get on to the subject far, far earlier. For this is, without doubt, the greatest folly that has ever been proposed for Dublin: indeed, such is its scale that it has dumfounded most people into an inert acquiescence.

Moreover, it is the Single Big Idea still remaining of this Government and, as such, cannot be allowed to fail. But it has to: otherwise it could effectively bankrupt what remains of this Republic as we become the first failed state in Europe since the collapse of the Third Reich.

Indeed, the sheer massiveness of Necro North has something of the Third Reich about it. It is proposed to dig a vast hole at St Stephen's Green to create a joint DART/Luas underground station. Needless to say, the park will be closed for the duration of the project -- as, inevitably, will most commercial life around the Green, including the National Concert Hall, while 400 lorry-movements a day remove soil. And not just for a few economically bloody weeks, but for TWO YEARS.

What's really fascinating is that this proposal emanates from the Greens, because they are committed to public transport by rail as an ideological dogma. But this is not just any kind of rail: it runs underground, which means that a tunnel will be built to Dublin Airport, essentially parallel to the existing, and already under-utilised, port tunnel. Let's use the Chesapeake Tunnel as a comparison. Its 23 miles required 100 million tonnes of concrete. The Necro North tunnel, however, will probably be one-third the length of the Chesapeake. Let's be conservative, and call it a quarter.

That means 25 million tonnes of concrete, for the tunnel alone, and not including the stations (least of all the huge Dart-Luas underground interchange at the Green). Roughly 20pc of concrete is cement, which means around five million tonnes. But cement-manufacture is one the most CO2-intensive processes known to man. So, making five million tonnes of cement releases some four millions tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But the whole country produced just 70 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2006 -- levels already more than 25pc higher than the allowable emissions for the period 2008-2012, according to our submission to the UN climate change authorities. Yet instead of cutting emissions, we are proposing a scheme that will probably add 6pc to them through cement manufacture alone.

And that's before we consider the CO2 emissions created by the building of huge underground stations along the way, starting at the Green, or the emissions caused by the tens of thousands of lorry movements a day, or by the colossal sand and gravel extraction operations that will be required to make the tens of millions of tonnes of concrete.

For what? To build an underground tube from Dublin Airport to St Stephen's Green, where nobody lives, where there is no traffic hub, and where only government departments have their offices. But the Green is not merely the biological heart of the city: it is, furthermore, what gives life to Grafton Street. And who is going to shop there while the Green resembles the Chicxulub meteorite crater that wiped out the dinosaurs, especially while there are relatively attractive, JCB-free suburban shopping malls closer to home?

I haven't mentioned -- because I hardly know how to -- the simultaneous proposal to build an underground Dart line from Heuston Station to the Docklands. And this is before we even consider the financial burden of the Metro. Official estimates declare that it will "cost" €5bn, ha ha ha. For remember, the "cost" of the Dublin Port Tunnel went from €220m in 2000 to a final €789m: a 350pc increase. The M50 widening increased from €190m to €560m: 300pc. The Luas went up from €290m to €750m: 350pc. Et cetera.

So this is how Pakistan must feel: floods, earthquakes, plagues, Taliban and test-match fixing, all on the one day. The difference is that for us, our woes are not caused by a merciless nature, or by corrupt players or by enemy action: no, this is all government policy. Pinch me, someone.

There are three major reasons why the Necro North nightmare is -- apparently -- going ahead. The first is that the smirking mandarin classes have closed ranks around it. The second is that the tax-paying public is punch-drunk from bad news and probably wouldn't raise a whimper if Lough Corrib was concreted over for use as a Chinese missile base. The third is that the Greens, who should be wholly against Necro North because of the colossal greenhouse gas emissions that it will cause, are actually its major backers. This is rather like the Vatican urging priests and nuns to have unprotected anal sex to protect them from AIDS.

So we don't need BP to go prospecting for oil in our waters to face ruin. Necro North will probably do the job unassisted.

kmyers@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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