A building supplies company has launched a legal challenge in the High Court over permission granted for the Galway City Ring Road, claiming a change to the scheme “flies in the face of reason”.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys granted leave to Brooks Timber & Building Supplies Limited, allowing it to proceed with its challenge over permission for the €600 million route.
The judge also gave permission to Friends of the Irish Environment to continue with its action over the N6 road and granted it a stay on implementation of An Bord Pleanála's planning approval.
The conservation charity, represented by Stephen Dodd SC has grounded its application on a number of points of domestic and European law, including that the board has allegedly failed to act consistently with Ireland’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions as set out in the Climate and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 and the Climate Action Plan 2021.
It also alleges that the board failed to apply or consider an article of the EU’s TEN-T Regulation, which requires that Member States shall give due consideration to improving climate change resilience during the infrastructure planning phase.
Its case is against the board, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Ireland and the Attorney General, with Galway County Council on notice.
Last week the Galway Race Committee was given the green light to take its case in which it alleges the planning board “erred” in failing to provide appropriate mitigation for the loss of its stables at its Ballybrit racecourse as a consequence of the construction.
Brooks’s counsel, Oisin Collins SC said his client’s challenge against the board concerns the same piece of land as that in the Galway Race Committee’s action and there will be “considerable overlap” between the cases.
Brooks, with a registered address on Old Naas Road, Dublin 12, seeks an order quashing the board’s planning permission for the route, as well as its decision to confirm with modifications a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for lands it leases at Ballybrit, Co Galway.
In documents before the court, Brooks takes issue with the board’s alleged last-minute decision to “fundamentally amend” the development proposal by omitting proposed permanent stabling on Brooks’s land to replace that lost by the Galway racecourse. This has been done without consultation with the public, the local council, the racecourse or Brooks, it is alleged.
Brooks says the final preferred route scheme includes a tunnelled section at lands where its business has been located for 24 years and required at least a partial demolition of its premises. It says the board’s final direction involves the permanent acquisition of lands from a depth greater than 1.5 metres below the surface, with temporary acquisition of lands above that depth.
However, it claims that it was originally proposed that its lands would be permanently acquired for the tunnel and the relocation of stables. The business points to various aspects of the development plan involving its lands now being “unclear”, including what condition its lands will be returned to it following the construction phase.
Without plans to develop permanent stabling on its plot, Brooks says the entire development of the tunnel needs to be revisited, as it claims its construction was predicated on the need to mitigate the impact on the racecourse. It says the current proposal “flies in the face of reason”, representing the worst of both worlds, as the racecourse will not have stables and Brooks will no longer have a business.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys adjourned the cases to later this month.
In a press statement issued following the grant of leave, Brooks said it is “committed to Galway and the development of the city and is supportive of the need for the proposed Galway City Ring Road”.