|24 January 2010
Motorway bypass would run close to Newgrange
The ancient Brú na Bóinne site around Newgrange may lose its World Heritage status if the proposed M2 motorway goes ahead, it was claimed. The National Monuments Forum warned if changes are not made to the new motorway plans, the area near the Boyne in Co Meath (Ireland) is likely to lose recognition from the UNESCO.
The proposed bypass will be 500m away from the buffer-zone around the World Heritage Site at Brú na Bóinne, which comprises the ancient megalithic tombs at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. The Environmental Impact Statement for the project acknowledges that 44 archaeological sites will be within 500m of the roadway and that the potential to uncover much more during work is high. While there will be a visual impact from the river, the Environmental Impact Statement says there will be negligible impact on the site.
Dr George Eogan, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at University College Dublin (UCD), said the new motorway is too close to the monuments and will have a considerable impact on the surrounding landscape. "Five hundred metres is simply too close, and it is conceivable that Newgrange could lose its World Heritage Status," he said. The site can be saved if Environment Minister John Gormley fast-tracks the new National Monuments Bill 2009 according to the National Monuments Forum.
Vincent Salafia, National Monuments Forum spokesman, claimed the minister created unnecessary delays which place Ireland's heritage at risk. "We urge Minister Gormley to deliver this long overdue legislation and to ensure it is strong enough to protect Newgrange from this outlandish proposal," Mr Salafia said.
Brian Taylor, spokesman for An Taisce in Meath and a resident of Slane said: "I'd be very reluctant about anything that might hold up that road. It has been several years in the offing and it has gone through numerous public presentations and the route chosen appears to be the least offensive [one]." A spokesman for the NRA said, "we have selected a route with the least impact. It is 1.5 kilometres from the core of the Brú na Bóinne and around that centre core is a buffer zone; this route is 500 metres from the perimeter of that buffer zone." The next stage is for An Bord Pleanála to decide whether to hold an oral hearing into any objections or submissions on the proposed route.
Sources: RTE News (21 January 2010), The Irish Times, Irish Examiner (22 January 2010)
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