Limerick City and County Council is working in partnership with Kerry County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the Department of Transport to develop a scheme to relieve congestion on the N21 Limerick to Tralee Road through Abbeyfeale. This project is called the N21 Abbeyfeale Road Scheme. This is an important project to enhance regional connectivity and to improve road safety.
Limerick City and County Council has appointed Jacobs Consulting Engineers to advance the project through the planning and design process. Subject to funding, the design process will be developed in phases..
2) What is the need for this project?
Abbeyfeale can, at times, endure significant traffic congestion and this can be attributed to a variety of factors affecting traffic flow, including the frequency of accesses onto the N21, junctions with adjacent roads, frequency of pedestrian crossings, school drop-offs, deliveries to businesses and poor or illegal parking.
The N21 National Primary road through Abbeyfeale currently operates at capacity on both approaches to the town. Measures to reduce the risk of collisions due to the frequency of accesses or conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians, such as signalisation, would further increase congestion and traffic delays for strategic through-traffic on the N21 route.
The project aims to deliver on the strategies and objectives of Project Ireland 2040 comprising the National Development Plan 2021 – 2030 and the National Planning Framework. The Scheme will address issues of safety, journey time and capacity along the N21, which is a national primary road and part of the Ten-T network. The scheme will enhance regional connectivity between the South-West and Mid-West Regions of Ireland. It will significantly improve transport connectivity and provide more efficient access to other strategic national roads such as the N23 and N22 to the south and the M20, N18/M18, M7 and N24 to the north and east.
The project is expected to have positive benefits on the urban environment of Abbeyfeale and will improve the quality of life for residents and vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.), with a significant reduction in traffic volumes in the town, and for commuters through improved journey times. It offers opportunities for the proposed route corridor and the existing road network to provide safe, segregated cycling and walking facilities and to integrate with the wider active travel networks such as the Limerick Greenway.
3) How likely is the scheme to be built?
The N21 Abbeyfeale Road Scheme has been identified within the National Development Plan as a key project to be taken forward through pre-appraisal and early planning. Further advancement of the scheme is subject to ongoing funding and statutory approvals.
4) How will the scheme be progressed?
The scheme will be progressed in accordance with TII’s Project Management Guidelines in combination with TII’s Project Appraisal Guidelines and applicable regulations and guidance. The scheme is currently at the Option Selection Phase, which is a 3-stage process. Following completion of Stage 1 (Preliminary Options Assessment), and the identification of the best performing Route Corridor Options, which were published in February 2021 as part of a Public Consultation, the Project Team considered the feedback received and undertook an appraisal of these options as part of Stage 2 (Project Appraisal Matrix) of the Option Selection Process. The Project Team has now completed Stage 2 and has identified the Preferred Route Corridor.
Finalisation and publication of the ‘Option Selection Report’ will be undertaken as part of Stage 3 (Preferred Option) of the Option Selection Process. As indicated on the Project Roadmap, this is expected to take place in 2021/2022.
5) What does the Preferred Route Corridor represent?
The Preferred Route Corridor is typically 400m wide. It does not represent the actual width of the road scheme or the lands to be acquired – the corridor indicates the lands within which the road scheme will be developed.
6) How were the route corridor options assessed to identify the Preferred Option?
The TII Option Selection process is being followed for this project. In Stage 1 of this process, known as the ‘Preliminary Options Assessment’ , Feasible Route Corridor Options were identified. These Feasible Route Corridors were assessed using the three Stage 1 assessment criteria of ‘Engineering’, ‘Environment’, and ‘Economy’. Through this assessment, the best performing Route Corridor Options were shortlisted, and these Route Corridor Options went on public display in February/March 2021 through a non-statutory public consultation.
The Project Team considered feedback received through the non-statutory public consultation and undertook an appraisal of the Route Corridor Options to identify a Preferred Route Corridor. This is Stage 2 of the Option Selection Process as defined in TII’s ‘Project Management Guidelines’.
The Preferred Route Corridor is the Route Corridor Option that has been assessed as providing the optimum combination of benefits and impacts with regard to the following criteria:
Further details on the Option Selection Process is available in the Public Display Brochure which is available in the Online Public Display Room.
7) Will the scheme involve demolition of residential property?
The Preferred Option is approximately 6.5km in length. It is likely that some residential properties will be affected, and it is possible that a small proportion may need to be purchased to facilitate the scheme. Each residential property is considered a constraint and in so far as possible, the scheme will seek to avoid and/ or minimise impacts. If property acquisition is required to facilitate the Preferred Option, affected property owners will be consulted directly by the Project Team as the design of the scheme develops.
8) How will land be acquired? Will I be compensated?
Given the scale of the project, it is likely that all lands required for the schemes will be acquired through a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). Should any part of a person’s private land/ property holding be included in the CPO, the land/property owner is entitled to compensation. This may also be the case for a person who may have an interest in any land/ property identified in the CPO. Compensation will be provided in accordance with CPO legislation.
9) What is a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and what is the Process?
A CPO is a legal function which allows statutory bodies (Including Local Authorities) to acquire land and/or a property from the owner. CPOs are generally used by statutory bodies to facilitate large public infrastructure projects including the building of roads. As per the Citizens Information Website, through the CPO Process:
As part of the CPO process, you have the right to object, make representations, negotiate, refer to property arbitrators and have your objections heard. The process can be legally complex. To this end, under the CPO process, the statutory body (i.e. the acquiring authority) is required to pay the land/property owner’s reasonable legal and surveyor fees. The general common steps of CPO process are below:
1. The acquiring authority identifies the need to make a CPO.
2. Affected land/property owners will be served with a Notice of Intention to issue a CPO by the acquiring authority. This will also be published in newspaper notices stating the CPO will go on public display and will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála.
3. The affected land/property owner can raise objections to An Bord Pleanála.
4. The acquiring authority submits the CPO to An Bord Pleanála.
5. If there are objections, An Bord Pleanála decides whether it is necessary to hold an inspector’s oral hearing into the matter. At the oral hearing, the affected parties can formally put their objections forward. Following completion of the Oral Hearing, the inspector makes a recommendation to An Bord Pleanála.
6. An Bord Pleanála either confirms, amends or rejects the CPO and publishes the details of the decision.
7. If the CPO is confirmed, and following the objection period of the decision, the acquiring authority serves a Notice to Treat on the affected parties. Negotiations on the value of compensation then commences between the representatives of the affected land/property owner and the acquiring authority.
8. Upon reaching agreement on the level of compensation, compensation is paid. Should agreement not be reached, either party may refer the matter to the Property Arbitrator to assess the compensation.
9. Typically, a Notice of Entry is then served by the acquiring authority to the land/property owners to enter the lands. However, it is noted once the CPO is confirmed, and the Notice to Treat is served, the acquiring authority can potentially serve the Notice of Entry before compensation has been agreed or paid.
10) When Will I know if my Property or Land is subject to CPO?
The next phase of the project is Phase 3 - Design and Environmental Evaluation. This will involve further development of the scheme, including design of the road and junctions, identification of the landtake required and the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report. During this phase, the Project Team will undertake further engagement with individual landowners to investigate issues and discuss potential impacts. When this phase is completed, the Project Team will commence the preparation of the planning submission. At this time, all affected properties and land that are to be subject of a CPO will be formally notified with a Notice of Intention. As per the Project Roadmap it is currently expected the Project Team will commence the preparation of the planning submission in 2023. However, it is highlighted that this time period is subject to relevant approvals, may be subject to change, and will be reviewed as the development of the scheme progresses.
11) What is the Amount of Compensation based on?
As per the Citizens Information Website, through the CPO Process:
Negotiations on the level of compensation can be legally complex. Therefore, this is usually undertaken between legal and valuer representatives, working on behalf of the land/property owner, and the representatives of the statutory body / acquiring authority. Under the CPO process, the statutory body/acquiring authority is required to pay the land/property owner’s reasonable legal and surveyor fees.
As per the Housing Act 1966 and the Planning Development Act 2000, and associated predating legislation, the main headings under which compensation may be determined are as follows:
12) Will I receive financial compensation if my lands are not subject to CPO, but the new scheme is nearby?
Under current legislation, neighbouring land/property owners, who are adjacent to the road scheme but who do not have any part of their land/property acquired as part of the scheme, are generally not entitled to financial compensation.
Separate to financial compensation, it is noted that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be undertaken as part of next Phase of the planning and design process. Environmental impacts (including Air, Noise, Landscape & Visual impacts) to all land/property owners within the Preferred Route Corridor will be assessed, minimised as much as reasonably practicable, and appropriate mitigation measures identified.
13) How close is my land/property to the new road?
The exact details of the land take, earthworks, junction and side road design and property impacts will be developed during the next Phase of the planning and design process.
It is noted that an interactive map of the Preferred Route Corridor is available on the Project Website. The Preferred Route Corridor presented is typically 400m wide, however it does not represent the actual width of the road scheme or the lands to be acquired – the corridor indicates the lands within which the N21 Abbeyfeale Road Scheme could be developed. Not all properties within the Preferred Route Corridor will be directly impacted.
14) What type of road will the N21 Scheme be?
A Type 2 Dual Carriageway road cross-section has been initially selected for the assessment of the Route Corridor Options and the identification of the Preferred Route Corridor. It is noted that this is the initially identified cross-section type, is subject to change, and the final road cross-section type will be determined during the subsequent planning and design Phase.
15) Why has a Red hatched area to the south of Abbeyfeale been shown on the Preferred Route Corridor Drawing?
The red hatched area to the south of Abbeyfeale is intended to allow for further appraisal of a potential link from the Preferred Route Corridor to the existing L1324 (Clash Road).
16) Will this project affect the planning application process in the area?
The Planning Departments of Limerick City and County Council and Kerry County Council are responsible for planning and managing development within the counties.
Planning applications and new developments may still be granted within the Preferred Route Corridor. However, as some planning applications may affect the scheme, all relevant planning applications will be considered on a case by case basis and a considered engineering opinion will be formed in relation to the potential impact of the application on the scheme.
17) What will the status of bypassed sections of national roads be post completion?
The status of bypassed sections of national road has not been determined at this time. Bypassed sections of national roads may remain as a national road or may be reclassified to regional or local roads following construction of new sections of the national route.
18) Has an Environmental Impact Assessment been undertaken?
TII guidelines and processes are being followed for this project and at this Phase of the project, we are preparing the Option Selection Report. This report will outline the environmental impacts of the Route Corridor Options. We start with the study area, identify the constraints/features, and then assess the options to help identify the Preferred Route Corridor. The assessment of alternatives is a key part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. The next phase of the project will include the publication of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). The EIA is the process that we follow and the EIAR is the report that will present the results.
At the start of the Option Selection Process, Feasible Route Corridor Options were identified (this is called Stage 1 ‘Preliminary Options Assessment’). The Feasible Route Corridors were assessed using the three Stage 1 assessment criteria, one of which was ‘Environment’. This narrowed down the larger number of Feasible Route Corridor Options to Four principal Route Corridor Options with potential links for hybrid options. These Route Corridor Options went on public display in February 2021 through a non-statutory public consultation.
The Project Team considered feedback received through the public consultation. We then completed an appraisal of the Route Corridor Options to identify a Preferred Route Corridor. This is Stage 2 of the Option Selection Process. The appraisal is based on six different criteria (Economy, Safety, Environment, Social Inclusion & Accessibility, Integration, and Physical Activity). Environment is a key part of the process and it consists of a wide range of topics, which include:
The assessment of these environmental topics is based on national and international guidelines. Many submissions received through the public consultation process commented on the presence of wildlife and archaeological features within the Study Area. This information has been taken into account. Information has been collected and surveys have been completed from publicly accessible areas. We have been able to identify designated areas and sensitive ecological areas (like Natural Heritage Areas and woodlands), protected buildings and archaeological sites, homes, businesses and places used by communities, group water schemes, agricultural land and yards, scenic views and landscapes and more. All of these factors from the human and natural environment have been taken into account during the appraisal of the options.
The next Phase of the planning and design process (subject to relevant approvals) will include the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). This will outline in detail what the impacts of the proposed scheme are and what mitigation (noise barriers, landscape planting, etc) can be put into place to reduce them as far as possible.
19) What is the relevance of observations from members of the public?
The Preferred Route Corridor has now been selected and is on Public Display. The Project Team will consider observations from members of the public during the Public Display period. The knowledge gained from the engagement will be considered by the project team as part of the upcoming design and environmental evaluation phase of the scheme development.
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