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West=On=Track - News

A Reply to the Minister
The Debate Begins

03 June 2003

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:

Official Reply:

Dear Sir/Madam,

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.

Yours sincerely

Roger Harrington
Private Secretary


Mr Daly's Riposte

Dear Minister

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.

Noel Daly



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