A Reply to the
The Debate Begins
Mr N Daly recently sent an e-mail to Minister
Séamus Brennan from the WestOnTrack website. He
received an acknowledgement, subsequently followed by this
bizarre letter from the Minister's Private Secretary, based
entirely on the discredited Strategic Rail Review. Mr Daly's
reply makes excellent reading. Both letters follow:
The Minister for Transport, Mr Séamus Brennan, TD
has asked me to thank you for your recent email regarding
the Western Rail Corridor.
As you are probably aware the Western Rail Corridor was
one of the rail proposals considered in the recently
published Strategic Rail Review. The consultants who carried
out the Review noted that the high awareness of the proposal
as a concept promoted by County Development Boards, Local
Authorities and other organisations along this route had yet
to be matched by any significant evidence of intent to
encourage residential or other development on the corridor
in the context of adopted land use plans.
The Western Rail Corridor was evaluated by the Review but
was not included in the Recommended Investment Strategy
because, among other things, it is not supported by
complimentary land use and settlement strategies. However,
because the proposal fits well with the aims of the National
Spatial Strategy the Minister is arranging for the provision
of consultancy support to help the Regional Authorities in
the West and the Western Development Commission in
identifying the land use and settlement strategies that
would have to be put in place for the viability of the
proposal to be considered.
The Strategic Rail Review lays down a challenge to those
supporting schemes, such as the Western Rail Corridor, to
establish a clear and convincing case on economic, social
and infrastructure grounds.
Mr Daly's Riposte
Thank you for your response to my letter regarding the
Western Rail Corridor. You point out in your reply that the
interest of Local Authorities in the area "had yet to be
matched by any significant evidence of intent to encourage
residential or other development on the corridor in the
context of adopted land use plans".
This however is a chicken and egg type argument, the
local authorities cannot give 'evidence of intent to develop
land along the corridor' without knowing that support for
the project is established in your department. Are you
suggesting that the authorities should engage in speculative
planning along the route in advance of departmental approval
even though such settlement options might not be viable
without the rail corridor? Imagine the problems that could
be experienced with speculation on the price of land along
the corridor in advance of such approval being given, were
the local authorities to draft development plans which
indicated that the rail corridor may be in the pipeline.
How are the authorities supposed to encourage residential
development in the future if they damage their credibility
by planning on the basis of what can now only be described
as a pipe dream.
Clearly Minister, the support for the Rail Corridor in
your Department must come first.