Darren O’Rourke TD has called on the Government to progress the Navan Rail project through the planning stage as quickly as possible in order to allow sufficient time to deal with the concerns of objectors, including privileged objectors.

The Sinn Féin TD and transport spokesperson made the call in the Dáil following recent local, regional and national media coverage of opposition to the proposed rail extension.

He told Meath Live, “The case for the extension of a rail service to Navan is made. It grows more compelling by the day as the population of the county grows and as the need to move to active and public transport become more apparent. The whole county will benefit from the project, not just those who commute on a daily basis. It has the potential to transform the county socially, economically, and environmentally.

“I was concerned, then, to see the widespread media coverage of the signalled opposition to the project by one individual.

“We have a planning process. Everyone has a right to engage in that process on a fair and equal basis but we must be able to make decisions and make progress on major transport projects such as this without inordinate delay.

“In the Dáil recently, I raised the need for the Navan Rail project to move through planning as quickly as possible in order to ensure that objections are considered and the project delivered in the quickest possible time frame.

“In response, Minister Eamon Ryan acknowledged that planning takes an inordinate amount of time in Ireland and pointed to an ongoing “top-to-bottom” review of the planning system being conducted by the Attorney General. He added that the associated review, updating, and recalibrating of the Planning Act 2000 is one of the most important projects the Government has underway. He confirmed that it will be completed by the end of the year and will help not just this project [Navan Rail], but a whole range of projects, to get through the planning process more quickly.

“I welcome the Minister’s response but it needs to be matched with action. At the current rate of funding and progress on Navan Rail, we will only start to consider these contentious planning issues in the latter half of this decade. We need to get a move on. This project should be progressed to the ‘planning approved’ stage without any further delay. Otherwise, this essential project risks being even further delayed. There is no excuse for a failure to prepare.’