IGS submission RE: Notice of request for Consultation on Options for the N2 Slane Bypass
Posted by IGS
RPSG Group PLC
West Pier Business Campus
8th March 2018
Dear Mr Vesey,
Thank you for your letter of 14th February 2018. The Irish Georgian Society of City Assembly House, 58 South William Street, Dublin welcomes the opportunity to comment on the options for the N2 Slane Bypass.Slane, its environs and the wider Boyne Valley area is characterised by a dense concentration of buildings, sites and landscapes of very significant regional, national and international heritage importance, including the World Heritage Site at Brú na Bóinne. The three largest monuments at Brú na Bóinne, the passage graves at Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, are all prominently located on high ground. From the west, both Knowth and Newgrange are visible from along the Boyne river valley as far as Slane.
Much of Ireland’s most distinguished architectural heritage is to be found in its landscapes, whether it be National Monuments or protected structures, ecclesiastical buildings and ruins or country houses, whether grand or modest in scale. What is distinctive for all of these structures is their siting and setting. Furthermore, their associated lands and/or demesnes had been designed, elaborated, planted and inhabited to enhance the setting. Rivers, loughs, hills, magnificent valleys and mountains are all engaged and embraced whether as framed views or as elements within the designs.
The gardens and designed landscapes of the 17th through to the 19th century were extensions of the plan of the house, to be experienced through all the senses as one inhabited outside spaces or moved along walks or rides. House and landscape were often a single coherent design. Ancient monuments and sacred places along with ruins and churches have been engaged in a visual dialogue across the land with country houses and their designed landscapes, each renewing their importance and redefining their significance.
It is worth also remembering that as one of the signatories, Ireland ratified the European Landscape Convention. The convention notes “that the landscape has an important public interest role in the cultural, ecological, environmental and social fields, and constitutes a resource favourable to economic activity and whose protection, management and planning can contribute to job creation”. It acknowledges “that the landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas”. Furthermore, it puts forward the belief “that the landscape is a key element of individual and social well-being and that its protection, management and planning entail rights and responsibilities for everyone”. The spirit of this Convention is embedded in Ireland’s National Landscape Strategy.
Slane, its environs and the wider Boyne Valley area comprise one of Ireland’s most important historic landscapes. The Society submits that the construction of yet a further new road and associated bridge will undermine the integrity of this powerful historic landscape and resulting in potentially profound negative impacts on heritage assets of regional, national and international importance, including protected structures, monuments and national monuments, and the World Heritage Site. This has significant implications for the loss of our shared heritage, but also for the local, regional and national economy.
Heritage and Ireland’s historic environment is estimated to account for €1.5 billion or 1% of the State’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and some 2% of overall employment (approximately 65,000 employment positions). The Heritage Council’s 2011 publication Economic Evaluation of the Historic Environment Ireland sets out the following:
“In addition to the contributions of the historic environment sector 'inner wheel' and built heritage construction components, the historic environment also has a significant impact on people's decisions to visit Ireland.
Fáilte Ireland's Visitor Attractions Survey provides much valuable information on visitor attractions in Ireland and highlights for example that no fewer than 4 of Ireland's top 10 paid admission attractions fall within the strict definition of the historic environment…
While substantial direct expenditure accrues as a consequence of these and other historic environment attractions and sites (including admissions fees and ancillary spend on souvenirs/ retail etc.), on a fundamental level the historic environment also serves as a central motivating factor for wider tourism to and within Ireland…
Notably, results from a recent survey of visitors to Ireland reveal an overwhelming majority alluding to elements of the historic environment as being 'very important' in their consideration of Ireland for a holiday…
- Including indirect and induced effects, it is estimated that tourism expenditure attributable to the historic environment supports more than 17,000 (17,129) FTE employees in Ireland.
- In terms of national income, this translates into an economic impact of approximately €650 (645) million towards Ireland's GVA.”
National policy for the management of our shared heritage assets promotes the principle of minimum intervention. For example, the Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities provide: “good conservation works should aim to do as much as necessary, yet as little as possible”. Given this, given the potential for significant negative economic impacts and given the likelihood of negative impacts on buildings, sites and landscapes of heritage significance, it is unclear why any option other than the option likely to result in least intervention is being considered at this time. The Society respectfully submits that traffic management options should be thoroughly exhausted (e.g. through an appropriate pilot scheme) before any consideration is given to the construction of new road infrastructure.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any further assistance.