Challenge by Group to Motorway Plans at Hill of Tara

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Group may challenge proposed tolled motorway
Liam Reid

Irish Times
2 Jan 2004

Government plans for tolled motorways across the
State are facing a constitutional challenge from a
local action group in Co Meath.
Campaigners against the proposed new M3 motorway,
which passes close to the Hill of Tara, have sought
legal advice on the possibility of mounting a
constitutional challenge to the tolled motorway.

The 60-kilometre stretch, from Clonee to north of
Kells, Co Meath, which is costing 680 million, was
given permission last August by An Bord Pleanála. The
motorway will bypass Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells and
will be tolled at two points along its length.

The newly-formed Save Tara-Skreen Valley Group, made
up of conservationists and local residents, is
examining the constitutional position on compulsory
purchase orders for tolled roads.

The group believes there could be a serious conflict
surrounding the fact that, except in cases of public
good, the State does not have rights to uses
compulsory purchase orders.

According to group spokesman, Mr Vincent Salafia, the
fact that a private firm will operate the toll road
could be seen as a profit-making venture rather than
public good project. "There is a serious legal issue
here," said Mr Salafia. "Whatever firm wins the
tolling contract stands to make 2 billion over a
30-year period."

He said the group has engaged two legal teams who are
examining the constitutional issues surrounding the
tolling plans.

The group is planning to meet local landowners later
this month, to discuss taking a test case on behalf of
a landowner against the compulsory purchase orders.

"Letters have already gone out putting people on
notice that their land will be acquired under
compulsory purchase order."

The Tara-Skreen group is campaigning against the road
on the basis that it passes too close to the historic
Hill of Tara, and within an archeological complex of
Tara-Skreen Valley, which Mr Salafia describes as one
of the "most important" of its kind in the world.

Mr Salafia had denied the group is an extension of the
group which brought the legal challenge against the
final stage of the M50 motorway over the partial
destruction of the Carrickmines Castle site. Mr
Salafia was heavily involved in that group.

For more information please visit http://www.taraskryne.org

Or Contact Vincent Salafia at salafiam [at] tcd [dot] ie

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