Source: Irish Examiner (Sean O’Riordan)

The proposed €180m Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway will have a devastating impact on some properties, especially in the Rochestown area, according to concerned residents.

The stark claim has been made by a spokesman for the M28 steering group at a Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the project.

Gerard Harrington, on behalf of the steering group which represents 10,000 residents, said the impacts of the motorway will be most acutely felt in the Mount Oval and Bloomfield areas.

He provided a slideshow of computer-generated pictures to emphasise what areas look like now and how they will look after the motorway is completed. The most striking picture was of a house at Newlyn Vale, Rochestown, which will be dwarfed by a new elevated section of the motorway’s northbound carriageway.

“The trajectory of new Bloomfield carriageway is higher and articulated trucks [passing Newlyn Vale] can be up to 18ft higher than it,” said Mr Harrington. “There’s no scope for mature tree planting [for screening] there.”

He said there would not be space left after the widening of the road in parts of Mount Oval and Bloomfield to plant trees for screening and that some amenity land would also be lost in Mount Oval.

Mr Harrington described the motorway proposal as “a whole new beast altogether” and said during the construction phase there would be major disruption.

He said one particular household at Maryborough Hill “will suffer enormously” because a road outside it has to be widened as part of the overall project.

He told Bord Pleanála senior inspector Mary Kennelly, that even with the planting of mature trees, it would take a generation for them to provide any proper visual and sound protection from the motorway.

Earlier, Raymond Holbeach, a landscape architect acting for the applicants, Cork County Council, said that without mitigation measures 67 properties would be substantially affected by the motorway.

However, he claimed the mitigation measures proposed would ensure none of them suffered substantial visual impacts from the motorway when it is completed.

The mitigation measures include the construction of earth banks, hedging and planting of mature trees, which would be a minimum of 4.5m high. Mr Holbeach said they will include oak and alder.

He said it was planned to erect a 3m-high noise barrier along a section of the motorway in Mulcon Valley and it would be screened from houses with trees. If trees have to be cut down during construction they would be replaced where possible.

Mr Holbeach then proceeded to address mitigation issues raised by a number of householders who live adjacent to the proposed 10.9km motorway which will run from the Bloomfield interchange to Barnahely and the 1.5km single carriageway which will connect it onto Ringaskiddy.

He also tried to address fears expressed by Douglas Golf Club whose members are concerned that mature trees will have to be cut down during construction. They want them replaced by oak and beech trees only and also want noise barriers erected.

Mr Holbeach added said there will be an increase of construction traffic on local roads during the project, which is likely to take up to three years to complete.

Solicitor Barry Galvin, representing the golf club, said maps showed up to 150 trees may have to be removed from a section of it nearest to Maryborough Hill.

Mr Galvin said some of them were 300 years old and they provide safety and security, and protect visual impacts. He said the club is looking for a wall to be erected along that boundary.

Mr Holbeach replied that they would try and keep cutting to a minimum and those trees lost would be replaced by mature trees of the club’s choice.

“There will have to be a substantial wall and noise barrier so that the golf can continue,” Mr Galvin added.

He said parts of the 100-acre course would have to be substantially screened from the large number of HGVs which would pass as close as 20m from it when the motorway is built.

It is predicted that, by 2035, an additional 4,000 trucks per day will be using the motorway, primarily due to the expansion of the Port of Cork’s facilities in Ringaskiddy.

Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton, who is an environmental engineer, said the motorway would rise as much as 15m above the current landscape and come within 15m of some homes in the Ringaskiddy and Shanbally areas.

She said no proper environmental impact statement had been carried out on the proposed motorway services site in Ringaskiddy.

She maintained there would be no room for planting trees to screen homes in some of the areas affected and also used a slideshow to emphasise how near homes would be to the road.

She expressed concern about how close the motorway will come to two protected structures in Ringaskiddy — the Martello Tower and the equally historic Castlewarrnen house, also known as Barnahely Castle.

She said the tower is 100m from the proposed road and Castlewarren is 60m away.

“No light and shadow studies have been done for any houses where noise barriers will have to be erected. Also no photomontages have been supplied by the applicant about the impacts of gantry signage along the motorway,” she said.

Daniel O’Connell, who owns a farm at Shanbally, where a junction connecting the motorway to single lane carriageway into Ringaskiddy is to be built, said that planners needed to look at the new generation of HGVs emerging on the continent.

He said that all large truck manufacturers had agreed to build diesel/electric hybrids models from now on.

The first testing of these was carried out in Berlin in 2009 and he pointed out that Sweden has now built a road which had electrified tram-type lines to power trucks.

Mr O’Connell said the EU will soon insist motorways have electrified lines in place and M28 planners need to take this onboard, especially as a larger numbers of foreign trucks will arrive at the port in the years ahead.