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€2bn Bus Connects plan may be hit by three-year legal delay

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Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, at the launch of the latest consultation phase for the Bus Connects plan

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, at the launch of the latest consultation phase for the Bus Connects plan

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, at the launch of the latest consultation phase for the Bus Connects plan

The ambitious €2bn Bus Connects project to speed up public transport journeys in the capital could be delayed for up to three years.

That's if people whose gardens are still under threat from the plan submit legal challenges against the National Transport Authority (NTA).

More than 40pc of the properties initially earmarked for having sections of their gardens taken away for road widening have now been saved in the revised plans for Bus Connects.

However, there are still more than 750 houses across the capital which could lose sections of their gardens under Compulsory Purchase Order.

A new six-week public consultation period has now been opened so people can make submissions on the revised plans.

However, NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan yesterday conceded that if people ultimately went to court to challenge any decision on reducing their garden size, it could be a lengthy process.

Impact

The NTA is hoping to submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanala in the last quarter of this year, but even after any permission might be granted, legal challenges on land acquisitions could rumble on for three years.

"We'd be disappointed if it went on too long, but that's something that's not under our control," said Mr Creegan.

The NTA says property impacts will be reduced by 60pc on the proposed Ballymun to City Centre Core Bus Corridor (CBC), 75pc less on the Kimmage to City CBC, 85pc less on the UCD to Ballsbridge CBC, and 50pc less on the Finglas to Phibsborough CBC.

While the numbers of houses potentially affected by garden reduction has decreased, it does not mean that people whose gardens were not being considered for reduction in the first draft of the plan have escaped.

On the Rathfarnham Road, for instance, instead of taking a large portion from the gardens on one side of the road from Rathfarnham crossroads to Terenure, the revised plan shows the NTA now intends to take a smaller section of land from each garden, but from both sides of the road.

This means that up to a dozen houses on the Rathfarnham Road which were not previously affected by potential land loss are now affected.

Meanwhile, Dublin Chamber said the new revised plan is a significant step toward providing Dublin with the free-flowing and reliable bus network it needs.

However, it has warned that a step-change will be required in the enforcement of bus lanes if Bus Connects is to be successful.

"The cornerstone of the Bus Connects plan is an increase in prioritisation for buses," said Dublin Chamber's head of public affairs Fergus Sharpe.

"However, the best plan in the world will ultimately only work if it coincides with an increased clampdown on the rogue use of bus lanes.

"The Government, gardai and transport agencies must look at the roll-out of camera technology and automatic number plate recognition systems across the city."