Court halts Irish road-widening scheme

"UK-style" tree-top protestors claim threatened site should be protected by EU law

A controversial road-widening plan in County Wicklow, Ireland, was temporarily halted by the Irish High Court yesterday, as Ireland's first "UK-style" direct action road protest enters its ninth month. Wicklow County Council is planning to widen 6km of the main N11 road between Dublin and Rosslare. The road is being part-funded by the European Union as a contribution to "Euroroute 1," intended to join Belfast to the port of Rosslare, and then Le Havre in France to Madrid via Paris. The road widening will destroy part of a national nature reserve, the Glen of the Downs, and protestors have been camping in tree houses since April last year to prevent the loss of an estimated 2,000 trees. Wicklow County Council brought a court action in an attempt to have the protestors evicted from the site. But in a counter-action, the campaigners sought to have the project stopped, claiming that the Glen of the Downs site should be protected under the 1992 EU habitats directive. Ireland has not drawn up a list of "protected sites" under the directive. Last October, the government received a final warning from the European Commission for continued failure to notify a list (ENDS Daily 17 October 1997).

Follow Up:
Wicklow County Council, tel: +353 404 67324; Glen of the Downs Campaign: +353 1 8727077

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