The European Court of Justice ruled this morning that a new route will have to be found for the N6 Galway City Outer bypass. The court has found that destruction of almost 1.5 hectares of priority Annex I limestone pavement habitat  would have a significant integrity level impact on the the Lough Corrib Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The judgement comes after environmentalist Peter Sweetman and the Department of the Environment challenged a 2008 decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant permission. A summary of the judgement is as follows:-
- Article 6(3) of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora must be interpreted as meaning that a plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a site will adversely affect the integrity of that site if it is liable to prevent the lasting preservation of the constitutive characteristics of the site that are connected to the presence of a priority natural habitat whose conservation was the objective justifying the designation of the site in the list of sites of Community importance, in accordance with the directive. The precautionary principle should be applied for the purposes of that appraisal.
The ruling is of significant importance in relation to the way that Article 6 Appropriate Assessments and Natura Impact Statements are prepared in Ireland. In relation to the Galway City Outer Bypass, it will mean that a new route for part of its length will now need to be considered.
ECOFACT is fully qualified to prepare reports to inform the Appropriate Assessment process, which are called Natura Impact Statements in Ireland and Habitats Regulations Assessments in the UK. For for further information on Appropriate assessments please see our main website.
The full European Court of Justice ruling this morning for the controversial Galway bypass can be downloaded here.