Oral hearing to take place into Cork to Midleton rail track plans

“It is critical this project is approved without delay. Delays in An Bord Pleanála risk the deadline for European funding,” a councillor has said
Oral hearing to take place into Cork to Midleton rail track plans

The public are being encouraged to have their say on the proposed upgrade of the existing rail line between Glounthaune and Midleton as the public consultation deadline approaches.

An oral hearing has been called into plans to double the rail track from Glounthaune in Cork city to Midleton.

The hearing is to run remotely online from June 26 to June 28, at 10am each day. Cork City Green Councillor Oliver Moran said he will be making a presentation on the issues.

“It is critical this project is approved without delay. Delays in An Bord Pleanála risk the deadline for European funding,” said Mr Moran.

“I received notice that the decision would be delayed. It was required by Wednesday, May 17. I'm not sure of the reasons for the oral hearing. It's not stated in the letter,” he said.

“However, there is a sticky issue to do with access for residents on the Lower Glanmire Road, who currently use a level crossing. The frequency of service is proposed to increase to every five minutes, and these works will enable that. If that was the case, then the barrier at that level crossing would in effect constantly be down for those residents.

“I mentioned this in my submission, and I will be taking part in the oral hearing. That issue will be the primary issue I'll present on, but I'll also emphasise that the decision on the railway order must be made without delay. Otherwise, it risks not meeting deadlines for European funding.

“I will propose that the works between Glounthaune and Midleton go ahead but that a condition is that, in the meantime, the issue with the level crossing is resolved prior to five-minute services coming on board, which is several years away anyway.” 

On Thursday, An Bord Pleanála wrote to Mr Moran confirming that a decision on the Glounthaune to Midleton Twin Track project, which was due by last Wednesday, has now been extended until August 9 because of delays in the planning body.

Mr Moran said delays in An Bord Pleanála are having a knock-on effect for the city's climate ambitions.

“Cork is the focus now of immense investment in sustainable transport. For the first time in living memory, there's both money and political backing for that. 

"There are plans in place to transform bus and rail services, bring walking and cycling up to the standards people expect from a modern city, and put in place important junction upgrades. However, these are dependent in key places on An Bord Pleanála, which is now a bottleneck for even run-of-the-mill Compulsory Purchase Orders.

“Our national obligations to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector is 50 per cent by 2030. Cork has also committed to being a carbon neutral city in the same period. That ambition is here locally, and we've got the support of the government nationally on that, but instead of being shovel ready next week, we're looking at delays of up to two years because of one state body,” he said.

In reply to a question from Neasa Hourigan TD on the matter, Minister Darragh O'Brien, said that An Bord Pleanála sought an additional 93 staff members in the last six months and that these positions are in the process of being filled.

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