|19 March 2006
Tara motorway campaigner is hit with costs for court battle
An environmentalist who lost his court challenge against the routing of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara (Ireland) had legal costs of up to 600,000 euros awarded against him. Vincent Salafia said he was facing the prospect of bankruptcy in the wake of Judge Thomas Smythís ruling at the High Court. "If I donít pay up fairly quickly, they will bring bankruptcy proceedings against me. It obviously will be a huge factor in my ability to own or direct a corporation.
It will affect my ability to make a living, to provide for my family, so really itís basically a very punitive judgment."
Mr Salafia said he would appeal to the Supreme Court. He said the costs might not be awarded against him if his appeal was successful. The environmental campaigner said he had taken the action on public interest grounds and that there was no personal gain involved. "A national survey last year showed that 70 per cent of Irish people were against the route of this road and wanted this road rerouted," he said.
In the High Court, Judge Smyth said he did not accept that Mr Salafia had been acting in the public interest. He said the campaigner had failed to establish that there were any national monuments on the route of the 600 million euros M3 motorway between Clonee and Kells. The judge added that Mr Salafia had not taken part in the oral hearings held by Bord PleanŠla into the routing of the motorway. "If he was bona fide motivated by public interest concern, it is inconceivable to me that he failed to avail of these many opportunities," the judge said. Judge Smyth noted that people who used the road in the area or lived in the locality had not brought any proceedings against the routing of the motorway or filed any affidavits supporting Mr Salafia.
Judge Smyth said yesterday that he was satisfied that Mr Salafia had acted out of a personal dislike of the road. He said that, while Mr Salafia had a right to act as a public objector, the public purse had the right not to be disadvantaged when ample opportunities had been provided for people to object.
Archaeological work is continuing on the excavation of 38 sites discovered near the route of the M3 motorway but construction work has not yet begun. The TaraWatch group held a protest at the site in the wake of High Court ruling.
Source: Daily Ireland (16 March 2006)
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