PEOPLE are “freaked out, angry and upset” by the BusConnects corridor proposal in Douglas according to local councillor Kieran McCarthy.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) BusConnects proposal to place a 20m-wide bridge over Ballybrack Woods from Donnybrook Hill to Maryborough Woods as part of the Grange to Douglas Bus Corridor has been met with scathing criticism from the councillor who called it a “shocking act of environmental vandalism.”
The Independent Councillor said that the plan would destroy 50% of the woodland area which Mr McCarthy called “the last green lungs of Douglas”.
The councillor also highlighted that Ballybrack Woods is one of the only amenity areas in the Douglas region.
“One just can’t have one climate action agenda dominating over a dozen other climate-action priorities. They are all important,” said Mr McCarthy.
“In this case, it is literally being proposed, amongst other concepts, to eliminate the last green lungs of Douglas, to seriously interfere with a biodiversity corridor, and to remove a significant site of enormous health and wellbeing added value from its surrounding communities.”
Mr McCarthy said he was annoyed by the communication from the NTA on the proposal. “The communication to local communities of the detail of proposals has been shocking and instead of leading to support from communities or encouraging support for change, [has] led directly and certainly to fear, anger, grief, panic, and sadness amongst my constituents. The supposed partnership has turned into a battleship,” he said.
Mr McCarthy also said he felt that the organisation was downplaying the detrimental effect of the proposal.
“What is also shocking and very disappointing coming from the NTA is the downplaying of such a removal of urban forestry. Their proposal is hidden away in its series of online bus-corridors map proposals, which require the citizen to have a detailed knowledge of map reading and ready access to their own measuring tape.”
The Independent councillor also said that the public consultation information sessions are merely procedural.
“The consultation and info sessions are taking place during July when people are away on holidays and people are just beginning to feel freedom post a very tough two years of Covid,” he said.
Mr McCarthy said he would be filing a motion to Cork City Council after the summer break to move away from its partnership with the NTA on the BusConnects project.
“At this moment in time I have no confidence at all in the NTA to deliver the Cork BusConnects programme that will enhance the city’s public transport in a sustainable and inclusive way,” said Mr McCarthy.
A response from the NTA to a query from The Echo stated: “NTA and Cork City Council opened public consultation for the 12 sustainable transport corridors for Cork on June 30.
“As part of this consultation process, there are six public information events across the city in the coming weeks.
“In addition to that, NTA has made a commitment to establish community forums to facilitate engagement between NTA, local public representatives, and members of local communities.
“If public representatives are concerned that issues raised by them or by local communities will not be taken on board by the NTA, I would encourage them to look at plans for similar corridors in Dublin that were significantly amended to reflect local concerns brought to our attention as part of the engagement process,” it said.