herald

Thursday 17 October 2019

Locals send legal letter to NTA questioning its Bus Connects project

The NTA says Bus Connects will ease congestion in the city
The NTA says Bus Connects will ease congestion in the city

A residents' group has issued a legal letter to the National Transport Authority (NTA) questioning the legality of the public consultation process in relation to the controversial €2bn Bus Connects project.

The residents' group in the Griffith Avenue area of Dublin claims decisions made by Bus Connects on future bus corridors could face legal challenges because they seriously breach EU directives on public participation.

The Griffith Avenue and District Residents' Association (GADRA) has accused Bus Connects of a lack of transparency by holding private consultations with selected categories of the public when updating them on bus corridor plans in their area.

GADRA has sent a solicitor's letter to the NTA, saying if it persists with the current decision-making procedures for Bus Connects it reserves its right to issue legal challenges.

As the €2bn plan to fix Dublin's public transport system reaches its latest phase, Bus Connects will be coming out with revised ideas for projected bus corridors, having processed thousands of public submissions made on the original plans it published last year.

Outcry

Plans to cut down trees and take sections of gardens away, to make way for wider roads, caused an outcry in many communities, which immediately set about forming groups in opposition to the proposals.

GADRA said the planned bus corridor on the Ballymun to city centre route may not be necessary at all because the planned MetroLink essentially runs along the same route.

"The decision to run a corridor through the Glasnevin area along the same route as MetroLink has serious environmental implications," read the letter by FB Logue Solicitors, on behalf of GADRA.

"It is our client's view that this option needs to be reconsidered given that it believes that MetroLink has more than enough capacity to accommodate public transport demand on this route."

GADRA claimed its rights under EU law in regard to public consultation were not honoured by Bus Connects when it drafted its bus corridor plans.

"Our client is concerned that the procedure adopted by Bus Connects seriously breaches the relevant EU Directives intended to give effect to the public participation provisions of the Aarhus Convention," said the letter.

The Aarhus Convention is an EU agreement which establishes a number of rights of the public, individuals and their associations, with regard to the environment.

"A broad environmental assessment without proper public participation or monitoring, as seems to have been done here, does not meet the standards set by EU law for strategic environmental assessment," stated the letter.

"Serious questions have to be asked about the ad-hoc non-statutory consultations to date," it adds.

Bus Connects said it could not comment on legal communications.

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