Complete the Ring Road/No to the Central Access Scheme
Work is continuing on a new bridge and road right through the heart of Kilkenny (the so called Central Access Scheme), just south of the current Green's Bridge (just at the foreground of the first picture below). This bridge is 2 metres wider than the existing Ring Road Bridge (Ossory Bridge).The CAS cuts right through the heart of Kilkenny, the medieval capital of Ireland.
May 13th 2016: Work has continued, slowly, to reach the stage as shown in the picture above. There is work too at the connection with the Castlecomer Road - although it will likely be some time before this huge bridge will be put to use.
June 2nd 2015: Work began again in the river. This time however, unlike 2014, the piles were inserted first and then the stone added inside the enclosed area.
April 14th 2015: A settlement has been reached on the High Court Case between Christopher O'Keeffe and Kilkenny County Council. The KK Co.Co. got an order stating that they have done nothing wrong in terms of planning to date. Despite this order, Chris O' Keeffe got what he wanted, namely that the Council will work in a more environmentally correct fashion this year i.e from the bank of the river using long-reach machinery, without dumping tons of stone into the river first. The settlement negates the need for a lengthy and costly High Court hearing, saving the people of Kilkenny considerable monies, in the event that Kilkenny County Council lost this case in the High Court. The Court also made a decision on costs and ordered that a total of €61,500 be paid out by KK Co.Co. by way of contribution to the costs incurred by Mr.O'Keeffe.
February 27th 2015: Back in late December '14, Kilkenny Co. Co. made a request to An Bord Pleanála in order to seek an amendment to the Bord's original planning decision. The purpose of this request was to seek approval for the in-stream methods used to build the CAS in Summer 2014. The request for change proposed by the Council was rejected out of hand by the Bord. The Bord refused to make any amendments stating “the mitigation measures of the approved EIS are expressly stated”. The Bord Pleanála Inspector's Report re-iterated this stating that the dumping of stone and "construction of temporary access causeways in the river will not be allowed". The campaigners on the Bridge have long protested against this. It was indeed a momentus day to be finally vindicated by An Bord (the highest planning authority in the land). Link to An Bord Pleanála's Direction.
February 12th 2015: A sad day for Kilkenny as the dismantling/demolition of the Vicar Street houses begins. Those houses contained over 300 years of history but alas the council concluded the path of the massive CAS road must pass through them. Only last May An Taisce stated that there was an overwhelming case to declare them as a National Monument. The houses can be seen on the above model image just at the end point of the road leading from the CAS bridge.
Meanwhile no work has been undertaken at the river. It will be most likely sometime in April before the High Court case resumes again.
December 10th 2014 : The High Court case has been adjourned again until Jan 12th 2015. Meanwhile it has been officially confirmed that the old Mart site on the Castlecomer Road has been sold.
October 21st: The High Court Case has been adjourned for two weeks. Proceedings are due to resume 10th November.
September 19th: A scale model of the CAS bridge has become available (the model above was produced by two WIT students). It merely illustrates what we suspected all along - the bridge is going nowhere and it's massive. It dwarfs the other bridges across the Nore. Earlier in the week the High Court lifted the previous injunction and unprecedentedly ruled that the ‘Precautionary Principle’, which forms the basis of European Union Environmental Law, does not apply to Section 160 of the Planning Act and only applies to Judicial Review proceedings. This is a critically important issue, linking planning law and environmental protection. However on 22/09/14 the Supreme Court did not affirm the High Court rulings of September 15 and so the case moves to a full hearing on October 20.
September 15th: The high court injunction has been lifted. KK County Council have said that "works on the bridge and its supporting piers will continue for the time being but completion will be substantially postponed until June of 2015".
September 4th: A temporary injuction was granted by the High Court preventing any further work in the river. The hearing will continue on Wed 10th Sept. The injunction was granted because of environmental concerns (see note below dated July 8th). The Judge made special mention of the report presented by consultant ecologist Ms Moorkens. In the report she stated that she had not seen such a serious event of pollution in a special area of Conservation in her professional career.
August 28th: In the early hours of the morning, the camp at Green's Bridge, that had been there since early July, was cleared out by Kilkenny Co. Council. The Council have extended the boundaries of the building site.
August 25th: The section 140 motion calling for a suspension of work was defeated 17-5. The voting proceeded along typical party lines with FF,FG, Labour all voting against the motion. The vote clearly highlights where each political party stands on the matter and calls into question the contradictory stance taken by some, prior to the local elections last May.
August 16th: A "Save Kilkenny Fund" has been set up by campaigners who are actively opposing Kilkenny County Council's decision to construct a Central Access Scheme (CAS) straight through the heart of medieval Kilkenny. There is a donate button link across this page. It looks like this issue may be forced into the courts so money is badly needed to help this legal fight.
August 13th: A motion has been filed with Kilkenny County Council under section 140 of the Local Government Act, calling for a meeting of the council (scheduled for 25th Aug) and a cessation of the works at Green's Bridge. According to Ind. Councillor Breda Gardner, section 138 of the Local Government Act mandates the council CEO to inform the elected council before any works are undertaken or expenditure committed. She is adamant that she and other councillors were not informed and no opportunity was given to the newly elected council to discuss or review this important contract.
July 17th: In the early hours of July 17th, the pile driving equipment arrived, accompanied by a large number of guards (approx 30). There was hardly much need for such a presence- there were only 2 campaigners left at the bridge at that stage, but thankfully there was no one hurt or injured.
July 8th 2014: During preliminary work on the bridge, unwashed stone was dumped into the river and not long afterwards a green scum was evident downstream posing a serious threat to fish stocks. The inland fisheries have been made aware of this and have since contacted the building contractors.
There has been a campaign going, proposing an alternative to the C.A.S. - to complete ring road around the City instead. This campaign has been led by various people from all walks of life, united in this one cause. Thousands of people signed the petition looking for an alternative to the Central Access Scheme (CAS) plan. There was an intial protest march in Sept 2013 and a second protest march took place on 22nd March. It was well attended - almost as big as the last march (despite inclement weather) and followed the same route as September's march, from the Peace Park, through Irishtown, up High Street and finishing on the Parade. pics from second march
This would not be the first time major plans have been laid down to destroy our City. I came across this wonderful account by William Robertson , a renowned Kilkenny born Architect. William and his Scottish born relative James G Robertson were instrumental in saving many of Kilkenny's antiquities from falling into ruin and were the key men in shaping the Kilkenny that we know of, today.
Back in 1808 William made a passionate plea to everyone to do all that was possible to preserve Kilkenny's antiquities and the scenery, which makes it still today, such a great city. I have the full text of his plea here (taken from the book "Antiquities and Scenery of County Kilkenny" by James G Robertson. Publ. 1851). Here is an excerpt:
"When will the devastating hand of man desist? but self interest uniformly and incessantly operating, insensibly destroys those fine features, which gave such celebrity to this elegant little City. The individual who does the injury seldom sees the consequences resulting from his conduct - his own interest he clearly understands and steadily pursues ; but Kilkenny may deteriorate or improve - this gives no concern ; but few perceive it - the greater part cannot, and the remainder will not interfere to rescue it. Thus Kilkenny sails down the stream of Time unheeded and unattended to - the causes of her former renown are insensibly, but progressively disappearing ; and in a few years, posterity will probably deny that she possessed those features, mementos of which I now attempt to preserve."
Robertson's plea is as real today as it ever was. It seems to me that we have embarked on another aggressive phase and are ruining the city by building the Central Access Scheme right through the heart of the very locations Robertson wished to preserve all those years ago.
Like William Robertson, I also have a great interest in capturing the ever changing images, moods and weather of Kilkenny. For Robertson this was a long labour of love and this being the era before photography, it proved an onerous task. To complete it he needed to commission artists to sketch the scenes and later these were made into plates, finally published in 1851. I had a far easier task and have so far set out capturing monthly images from in and around County Kilkenny (as can be seen in my extensive photograph menu above).
The pictures below were taken of the Green's Bridge area in the past few years and in my mind the area is an intrinsic part of what makes Kilkenny an attractive place to live, work or take a holiday. I support the view that the northern part of the ring road should be completed instead of tearing the city apart.