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Hill of Tara


Challenge to M3 route near Hill of Tara rejected

Challenge to M3 route near Hill of Tara rejected
Mary Carolan

The Irish Times
Thu, Mar 02, 06

A challenge by environmentalist Vincent Salafia to the proposed route of the M3 motorway near the Hill of Tara has been dismissed on all grounds by the High Court.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth ruled Mr Salafia was not entitled to succeed in any of his claims because of an unjustified two-year delay in bringing them. He considered all the arguments made by Mr Salafia, including claims that certain provisions of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 were unconstitutional, and rejected all of those.

The judge ruled the legislature is entitled to regulate land and road
developments in the interests of the common good, even where that involves interference with property rights and national monuments.

The Act had introduced changes in relation to how national monument protections were controlled, the legislature was entitled to choose to give qualified protection to national monuments and the court could not strike down section 14 of the Act, as sought by Mr Salafia, simply because a different or better balance could have been struck, he said.

Mr Salafia had also asked the court to make a declaration that the
greater Tara landscape - the Hill of Tara/Skryne Valley - is a national monument or a complex or series of national monuments within the meaning of the National Monuments Act but the judge declined to do so.

Mr Justice Smyth said there were differences between Mr Salafia and between Mr Salafia's experts as to what constituted the core Tara area.

In those circumstances and in the absence of any representation in the proceedings for people in the Tara area who would be directly affected by such a declaration, it was not permissible for the court to make any such declaration.

Among other key findings of Mr Justice Smyth was that even if the
Supreme Court upheld arguments in its forthcoming judgment on the Carrickmines Castle case that section 8 of the National Monuments Amendment Act was unconstitutional, he was satisfied that protections for national monuments, which he held were built in to section 14 of the same Act, were "constitutionally sound".

He adjourned the case to March 14th when he is expected to rule on the issue of the costs of the proceedings, which ran for seven hearing days.

Mr Salafia, Dodder Vale, Churchtown, Dublin, had sought to overturn directions given by the Minister for the Environment in July 2005 regarding the carrying out of archaeological works on the site of the M3. He also challenged the constitutionality of section 14 of the 2004 Act on the grounds it gave the Minister an unreviewable and unfettered discretion to remove protections for national monuments.

The judge found the Minister had properly and lawfully issued his
directions, which related to an "approved" road development, under the correct section of the National Monuments Act - section 14.A.2.

There was no objection to the content of the directions.

The minister was not obliged to give directions which would modify the M3 route in any material way and had carefully considered material from Meath County Council regarding 38 archaeological discoveries made during test trenching of the M3 route, he said. The Minister had also considered detailed advice from the director of the National Museum.

He rejected Mr Salafia's argument that the directions should have been issued under section 14.A.4 of the Act.

The Minister was required to issue directions under section 14.A.4 only if a national monument had been discovered during the road project and no such discovery had been made, he said. None of Mr Salafia's experts had made claims to that effect.

He dismissed the claim that section 14.A.4 was unconstitutional because it gave the Minister an unfettered discretion to permit interference with national monuments and failed to set out principles and policies to govern that discretion. He said principles and policies were set out in the National Monuments Acts.

Earlier, Mr Justice Smyth said there was an obligation to bring
judicial review challenges promptly.


Posted by otuathail3
12th April 2006ce

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