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21 February 2010
Many objectors to bypass near Irish prehistoric sites

Former Irish attorney general John Rogers SC, who lives in the Boyne valley, will be among the objectors to plans by Meath County Council and the National Roads Authority (NRA) to build a bypass of Slane 500 metres from the Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex. Depending on the number of objections, the An Bord Pleanála may decide to hold an oral hearing.
     The proposed route, running east of Slane, is being opposed by the newly formed Save Newgrange campaign, led by Vincent Salafia, who was prominent in the protracted struggle against the M3 motorway because of its proximity to the Hill of Tara. Mr Salafia called on An Bord Pleanála to extend the deadline, arguing that the public notice was inadequate, that more time was needed by the public and that access to information on the project had been 'unreasonably curtailed'. He said Save Newgrange had lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission, alleging the public consultation process was 'flawed' and calling on the commission to intervene so the deadline could be extended for 90 days.
     The environmental impact statement (EIS) on the bypass proposal says it would remove through-traffic from the existing N2 through Slane, improving the village's environment as well as giving an 'improved level of service' on the route. However, it concedes that the new stretch of the N2 route would be "just over 500 metres from the Unesco World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne, comprising the three main prehistoric sites [of] Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth", on the north bank of the Boyne.
     "The assessment identified 44 archaeological and cultural heritage constraints within 500m of the route. Of these, five will be impacted directly, two will be impacted indirectly and 34 will have no predicted impact," according to the EIS. For the 10 sites that would be affected, the potential impact is rated as 'potentially significant' for three, 'moderate' for two, 'slight' for another two and 'no predicted impact' for one. The remaining two are 'areas of undetermined archaeological potential'.

Source: The Irish Times (17 February 2010)

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