EU court clarifies directives applying to Kilkenny northern ring road extension

High Court had referred 11 questions concerning application of EU Directives on conservation of wild fauna and flora

Kilkenny People

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Kilkenny People

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny road challenge

It is anticipated that the case will come back before the High Court some time in the spring of next year.

The European Union Court of Justice has issued a ruling to clarify a number of issues pertaining to Kilkenny’s proposed Northern Ring Road Extension, a challenge to which is currently before the High Court.

The EU court provided responses to clarifications sought by the High Court arising from a legal challenge against the decision of An Bord Pleanála in July 2014 to grant planning permission for the road.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys referred 11 questions concerning the application of EU Directives on conservation of wild fauna and flora for clarification to the EU Court, before the High Court makes its decision.

The proposed road, which is a part of an overall ring road around Kilkenny, crosses two protected Natura 2000 sites. Its purpose is to link the N77 Castlecomer Road and the R693 Freshford Road, including a new roundabout, to alleviate traffic congestion in the city.

Setting out five rulings, the European Court said that there must be a full review into the project’s impact on protected habitats.

Among its rulings, that “an ‘appropriate assessment’ must on the one hand, catalogue the entirety of habitat types and species for which a site is protected, and, on the other, identify and examine both the implications of the proposed project for the species present on that site, and for which that site has not been listed, and the implications for habitat types and species to be found outside the boundaries of that site, provided that those implications are liable to affect the conservation of the site.

It also said a developer must ‘supply information in relation to the environmental impact of both the chosen option and of all the main alternatives studied by the developer, together with the reasons for his choice...’

It is anticipated that the case will come back before the High Court some time in the spring of next year.

Kilkenny County Council has said that the 1.5km road extension is ‘an important priority’ of the council.

“We are examining the judgement at present,” said a statement from the council to the Kilkenny People.

“We await the ruling of the High Court on the approval granted by An Bord Pleanala. This will inform the council of how to progress this critical piece of infrastructure for the city and county.”