I have received a number of representations regarding this project.
The statutory authority for approval of motorway schemes is An Bord Pleanála, which recently approved a motorway scheme and environmental impact assessment for the M3.
My Department was consulted by National Roads Authority consultants regarding the route selection stage. The environmental impact statement for the proposed M3 was sent to my Department for comment on 4 March 2002 and comments were forwarded to An Bord Pleanála on 22 and 25 April 2002. These comments are summarised below.
With regard to nature conservation, my Department is satisfied that the route proposed would not have a significant adverse impact on any designated area. The proposed route will cross sections of the Boyne and Blackwater Rivers, which were at the time under consideration for designation to protect salmon and its habitat. It was, therefore, recommended that the construction work would be carried out in consultation with the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, and mitigation measures to minimise any environmental impacts on habitats and species were also put forward.
Regarding archaeology, my Department indicated that it agreed with the detailed recommendations in the EIS in relation to the mitigation of impacts on archaeology. The Department recommended that the archaeological mitigation measures proposed in the EIS for the project should be implemented and that a number of additional measures be undertaken, to include pre-development archaeological testing and assessment at various points along the proposed route.
In addition, in regard to the architectural heritage, some issues as to the method used in the EIS to deal with this issue were raised.