Ireland’s planning apocalypse

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    • #709211

      We’ve already discussed this subject on the ‘Ireland’s ugly urban sprawl’ thread but I feel it needs a kick-start again.

      When will we reach the tipping point when Irish politicians, particularly local councillors, embrace responsible planning practices? I’m in despair.

      This subject gets discussed all the time in various media outlets but everyone seems to wring their hands and accept that our appalling planning is just the logical outcome of the economic policies that gave us the boom.

      I open the newspaper and read cute little articles about nuns who’ve taken up composting, or schoolchildren who are measuring their carbon footprints, meanwhile vast swathes of the country are starting to resemble the no-wheresville of the American Midwest.

      People are driving ridiculous distances to get to work. Our children are becoming ever more obese. Communities are fragmenting. Our inadequate public transport network has created a total reliance on the car. To reach the centre of any medium-sized Irish town you must now pass through a strung-out sprawl of ugly housing estates plonked on unfinished roadsides, depressing retail parks, miles of breeze-block walls, and the ubiquitous McDonalds.

      To break your heart take a spin through the outskirts of Ashbourne, or Oranmore, or Tramore, or any number of design-free suburbs that pass for Irish towns now. Or take a look at Rochfortbridge where a little piece of Tallaght has been dropped down from the sky to annihilate a pleasant Westmeath village. Or scan the planning applications in Kerry where they’re falling over each other to build incongruous suburban housing estates in the some of the most beautiful countryside in Ireland.

      If you own a piece of land in this country it seems like you have a God-given right to do whatever you want with it, regardless of what might be good for the rest of the community.

      I’m pro-development. But this total free-for-all is so utterly greedy and short-sighted. In France they manage to have motorways and superstores and housing for tens of millions of people yet still preserve the landscape that makes us want to visit their country in the first place. I have friends in England who have been regular visitors to the west of Ireland for twenty years. Now they’ve given up coming. They’re in despair at what’s happening here, and they’re telling all their friends what an utter mess we’ve made of the place.

      How many condescending articles in foreign newspapers will it take before we wake up and call a halt to this madness? It doesn’t have to be like this. This is an election year, the only opportunity the average person has to influence government policy. What can we do to get politicians to join the dots, to put the interests of the general public above those of the bloated construction sector?

    • #787458

      Dublin sprawl could harm health, study warns
      Tuesday, 13 February 2007 20:28

      Planning experts have warned that Dublin’s massive suburban sprawl could lead to health problems, pollution and increased rates of social isolation.

      The Urban Forum, which is made up of five planning groups, is calling for a review of the National Spatial Strategy, and the creation of a new urban centre along the west coast.

      Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Aidan ffrench of the Irish Landscape Institute, which is on the forum, says Dublin is growing too rapidly.

      AdvertisementThe forum is also demanding increased staffing of planning bodies and a greater emphasis on high-speed rail.

      It has warned that Dublin is expanding so quickly it will soon occupy the same surface area as Los Angeles, but with less than a quarter of its population.
      As a consequence, the average car in Ireland travels 70% more each year than France, 50% more than Britain – and even 30% more than the USA.

      The forum says there is substantial evidence to suggest this will lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma and increased rates of social isolation.

      The forum is made up of: Engineers Ireland; the Irish Landscape Institute; the Irish Planning Institute; the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors.

    • #787459
      Paul Clerkin

      Surveyor calls for high density and high-rise developments
      The Irish Times

      Despite signs that the residential market may be softening, the Society of Chartered Surveyors, at its recent annual dinner, still predicted a busy future for the construction industry. The construction sector remains strong and growth in the non-residential area should help to offset any slide in the number of housing units being built, said Conor Hogan, president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors, at the society’s annual dinner recently. Hogan also argued that Dublin city should go for high density and high-rise, in keeping with the new draft local area plans for Ballsbridge. This approach should become a “blueprint” for all areas of the city, he said. In a wide ranging address, Hogan told the 1,500 delegates present that independent surveys demonstrated the strength of the construction sector. He cited the findings from the SCS/IPD Irish Property Index and the Bank of Scotland/Dublin Institute of Technology property poll. While there was softening of the housing market, the non-residential construction sector, which accounts for more than 33 per cent of building output, remained buoyant. “These surveys are proof positive of the healthy state of the property market and, by extension, the construction industry,” said Hogan. He criticised the “gloomy” forecasts of some commentators.

    • #787460

      Well I’d take responsibility for land zoning out of the hands of couny councils, who seem either conflicted or inept.
      A lesser man would say easily corruped..not me. Oh no.
      And maybe if housing was built in the interests of the people to live in them and not in the interests of developers, that might help….madness.

      Personally, I would have thought building around existing urban areas, in a sustainable manner, would be a better way to house people than stringing houses across the countryside like a sneeze in a tissue.

    • #787461

      I went for a walk in Dublin this week, starting from the city centre going towards Marino; even before I had got to the canal I had come across rows of what are literally box houses: a tiny bungalow , with a door and a small window on either side. That anyone would build such a thing anywhere, even in the wilds of Connemara would baffle me and here we have them within two miles of the centre of the capital! the audacity of those CC communists! These should be 10 story apartments! Imagine the money and the landscape that could be saved!

      What can we do to get politicians to join the dots, to put the interests of the general public above those of the bloated construction sector?

      Nothing. It will never change, certainly not before it’s too late.

    • #787462

      Tiny irish towns and villages (especially in the midlands where i grew up) have become monstrous joyless inocculated suburbs of suburbs. The fields behind my parents house have now made way to large housing developments (nice ‘Oirish’ names Rath-bullshit, Bally-bullshit, ) like and now our view of the mountains is gone forever. The old fishing spot i visited as a child has been dug up, plonked on my apartments and there is no desire to fish with my back to undrawn curtains. Most days wandering the main street you can meet strangers who are always in a hurry, desperate to avoid eye contact with undesirables (we prefer the term locals) We grew up here. Communities are disenfranchised and makes way for petty crime. Suburban or superrural teens vandalise yet swig latte’s. The main roads are bumper to bumper – all i see if beamers and mercs from the bus eireann bus back to the capital. My 56 year old mother i visit once in a blue moon collects me from the busstop but is in a mad fluster to ‘get a few bits in ALDI before traffic is chaos’ It’s the same all over. Downtown Mullingar. Suburbs of Maynooth. Swords city centre. But this is progress. We have some pennies in our coffers. Life is good again. I grew up in a housing estate in the mid-80’s and it was grim. But this is worse, Need to put the security chain on the door. Must get up at 6am to beat traffic. Must keep working to pay off grossly obese mortgage.
      Dublin should remain Dublin, There is more than enough space to accomodate the population. I see developments in Balgriffin and even in the city with retail and apartment blocks and think “thats what they should be doing” Nobody wants to live in there car. And when you are at work nobody cares if you are on the 2nd floor or the 22nd floor, so with this bouyant non-residential contruction, could we manage to build a CBD or Downtown that we can all go to and keep the apartments in the real suburbs? And a decent public transport system to keep us moving. Is that too much to ask? OR choose option in Paragraph 1

    • #787463

      I think this situation is like this because we let nimby’s completly rule the roost
      Of courdse everyone wants their house with large gardens, huge parks, but its not sustainable(DUH!)
      IFSC – prime example every single financial institution could be in a handful (cluster) of buildings, thus freeing up more space for more businesses or resedential units.
      This is just so tiring
      Yet another report, yet more talking and nothing actually gets done

      Bungled’ Dublin faces disease, rising pollution

      Capital set to sprawl to the size of LA

      GREATER Dublin will soon be as big as Los Angeles but have just a quarter of the US metropolis’s population.

      Planning experts issued a stark warning yesterday that the capital’s massive sprawl could lead to health problems, more pollution and increased rates of social isolation.

      And the Urban Forum group – made up of planners, architects, engineers and chartered surveyors – has warned that Dublin commuters use their cars 70pc more often than the French and 30pc more than Americans, because Dublin’s population is spread out over such a wide area.

      The average mileage racked up by a commuter in the capital is a staggering 24,400km per year, far more than our French and American counterparts.

      The Urban Forum group said the next Government must review the National Spatial Strategy and develop an urban centre on the west coast to act as a counter-balance to Dublin. A series of high-speed rail links between Cork, Galway and Limerick would encourage people to move out of the capital and help curb the city’s growth.

      And Dublin’s size could have long-term repercussions for its citizens’ health. Reliance on the car will lead to an increase in obesity levels as longer commuting times means less time for exercise. Cardiovascular disease, asthma and stress will become more common, while studies have shown that car-dependent communities are less likely to know their neighbours, which can lead to social isolation.


      “There is a lot of research to show that we in Ireland could be facing epidemics of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, depression, osteoporosis and cancer,” the policy document starkly points out.

      “Fundamental changes to our built environment are necessary to help combat these new epidemics.”

      It warns that the province of Leinster is dominated by the Greater Dublin Area, and 54pc of the country’s population lives there. And in addition to the growth of new suburbs, one-off housing in rural Ireland is adding to the sprawl.

      While town and city centres are seeing a fall in population, the suburbs are growing at a rapid rate.

      There is a need to change the stamp-duty regime so people would be encouraged to move into city centre homes instead of being forced to move into the commuter belt.

      Construction of one-off houses is adding to the problem, and people granted planning permission for just one house should be forced to pay a contribution to build social and affordable housing.

      While schools in the cities were closing, there were too few of them in the suburbs. ater supply and sewerage systems were also under pressure. “We will get planning authorities across the country who are very good, and others who ignore the problem,” said president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, James Pike.

      “We need to attract people back to towns and cities. Living in a town can be a very attractive proposition. The average couple with two children spend 2,200 hours a year driving. How can you enjoy your life if you’re spending so much time in the car?”

      A high-level cabinet committee or Government department should be established to ensure communities were properly proper development and that the mistakes of the past were not repeated.


      “We cannot always react; developments must be pre-planned,” Urban Forum Chairman Henk van der Kamp added. “We’re not saying all these ideas are new, but we have to improve on what we have done. If we manage to get the right policies in place and grow the gateway towns, we will have a counter-balance (to Dublin).

      “The very fact that the National Development Plan is increasing investment in infrastructure provision gives even greater urgency to some of our proposals,” he said.

      Paul Melia

      We need fast trains and huge west coast city

      * A HIGH-SPEED rail network linking Cork, Limerick and Galway needs to be established so that a major urban centre can be created on the west coast.

      * People building one-off homes should pay towards social housing.

      * The tax regime should be changed to allow people to move into city centre homes.

      * The National Spatial Strategy should be reviewed to ensure that new homes are built near road and rail links. A Greater Dublin Land Use and Transport Authority should also be established.

      * More planning staff should be hired in local authorities, and councils should be allowed to buy rezoned land at the existing value plus a premium, instead of a price based on development value.

      * More parks should be available in urban areas.

      * Communities should be consulted before developments take place.

      * A Government Department of Urbanism should be established to ensure proper planning.

      TCD team to create virtual metropolis
      A TEAM of Trinity College researchers has been awarded €2.5m by Science Foundation Ireland to create a virtual Dublin on a scale and level of realism never seen before.

      ‘Metropolis’ is a novel project combining computer graphics, engineering and neuroscience research, in which researchers will create a simulated ‘living’ city.

      When completed, people will be able to move around and experience total immersion in a computer-generated Dublin.

      The researchers aim to create a lifelike depiction of a virtual urban environment with street scenes, crowds and traffic noise. It is envisaged that the project will be of practical benefit to urban planning projects and to the development of assistive technology for people with disabilities. The researchers include Prof Carol O‘Sullivan and Dr Steven Collins from the Computer Science department and Dr Fiona Newell from the Institute of Neuroscience.

      Irish Independent

    • #787464

      Why not build a linear high-density city in the Midlands between Athlone and Mullingar? Surely a central location would be more beneficial to the nation as a whole than spending decades trying to counter-balance the East with a new city in the West, or the proposed sprawl of the NSS. The West already has two cities – the Midlands has none.

      The Midlands is criss-crossed with good roads and rail lines already. Land between Athlone and Mullingar is fairly cheap compared to the rest of the country – much cheaper than most of the West. Sourcing water supplies, electricity etc is no problem. It would allow people to live in Dublin, Sligo, Galway and so on and communte into the Midlands or vice-versa. For people who would live in the new Midlands city, the countryside would be within easy reach as well and the Shannon/Royal and Grand canals are woefully underused in terms of amenities compared to similar water ways in other countries.

      A lot of the infrastructure for a Midlands city is already up and running – just place the buildings and industry around it. There is even a closed railway running from Athlone to Mullingar which was built for double track and could form a Dart line right though the heart of this new urban center. Seems to me building a major city there in the Midlands and forgetting the NSS would make a lot more sense and be delivered much faster. (of course, I know I am in dreamland here.)

      Has the idea of a large city for the Midlands ever been proposed other than that stupid “Triangle Gateway” farce in the NSS. When you think about it all that’s missing is the buildings and the people – everything else is already there. Why not put all our eggs in one new urban basket and forget about the NSS shotgun effect and hoping it works.

    • #787465

      @Cute Panda wrote:

      Why not put all our eggs in one new urban basket and forget about the NSS shotgun effect and hoping it works.

      The problem is simply the political feasibility. Even the Galway/Limerick/Cork idea, which frankly sounds like pants to me, will come up against Waterford for starters saying ‘what are we, chopped liver?’, to be followed by Sligo, Castlebar, Athlone, Nenagh and so on.

      Whatever hope there is of getting some rationality into the political arena depends on mobilising support from the regional cities, IMHO.

      Picking one of those images that rural development advocates decry as Dublin centric, I was walking through some countryside outside Kinnegad at the weekend. You can’t seem to walk three feet without seeing litter. This is not about expecting the countryside to be beautiful so city dwellers can say ‘how nice’. Its about wallowing in our own shit and seeing nothing wrong with it.

    • #787466

      destruction of this country will probably never end as we fail to acknowledge that we are basically a nation of peasants who elect peasants to local councils to make decisions you would expect from peasants.

    • #787467

      Just on the car dependency issue, at this stage I think it’s fair to say we have a problem far greater than that just related to dispersed settlement. We now have a car culture so ingrained that even people with easy access to work, local facilities and amenities still choose to drive. I’m embarrassed to say that I know of a number of people who drive to the shop that is barely a five minute walk away, with one individual being but 19 years of age driving to the village on a regular basis that a three minute walk from their front door, along a straight, well-paved road. Walking simply isn’t on the radar.

      Similarly in Dundalk, there is currently a row of epic proportions centring on Dundalk Institute of Technology and their ‘lack’ of parking spaces for students that really encapsulates for me Ireland’s love affair with the car – the issue has literally consumed the town as a talking point for the past month, with clamping and demonstrations and strikes taking place. There are currently 700 surface parking spaces sprawling around the college, with an additional 350 unofficial spaces, and yet an estimated 1200 students plus hundreds of staff are all trying to get parking there at peak times. In fairness the college is very much a regional one, with students drawn from a dispersed urban/rural catchment area, but the figures are startling:

      An estimated 40% of students drive to college.
      26% of driving students live within two miles of the college.
      93% of staff travel to college by car.
      36% of students could cycle to college, but only 2% do.
      39% of staff could cycle, yet only 1.7% do.
      28% of students could walk, yet only 11% do.
      18% of staff could walk, yet only 3% do.
      I’ve also been told that at least 100 students alone drive from the neighbouring housing estates that are ten minutes walk away. Also almost 0% of people in the college regularly take the train, because there’s no shuttle bus from the railway station.

      In addition to staff and other traffic, the main N1 road outside the door is choked with traffic generated by students – 50% of whom in fairness do car pool, much more so than older people. But it really highlights not only how ridiculous our settlement patterns are (and Louth is covered in 1980s and 1990s one-off housing), but also the car culture that is being imbued in our younger people – increasingly it’s the case that they won’t even step outside the door unless there’s a car to jump into within seven seconds.

      Similarly the solutions being offered by some students to this problem are embarrassing: “we need a massive new car park on campus”, “the college is trying to draw more students yet when they get us they tell us to park somewhere else” – also there’s ‘useless’ civic paved areas that could be filled in for more cars, and people wondering why it’s dangerous or aesthetically damaging to be parking along access roads and grass verges etc etc…

      Whereas there are undoubtedly short-term bad management issues on the part of the college, on a wider level this car dependency ought to have been foreseen at a local planning level, and is merely part of the much broader black pit that we’re digging for ourselves in this country. And above all it highlights, yet again, how efficient public transport is deemed to be a ‘city’ issue, or more specifically a Dublin issue. Virtually none of our urban areas have the desired critical mass to make public transport worthwhile.

    • #787468

      Greenhouse gas emissions up in 2005
      Friday, 16 February 2007 09:06
      Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector rose by nearly 7% in 2005, according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

      The steep rise is being blamed on an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads as well as a trend towards the purchase of larger sized cars.

      The agency has described the emissions rise in the transport sector as ‘particularly worrying’.

      AdvertisementLast year, the EPA identified that sales of cars with engine sizes between 1.7 and 1.9 litres had increased by 400% since 1990.

      Its new report has identified that petrol use in 2005 was up 5% and diesel was up almost 9%, leading to an overall transport emissions increase of almost 7%.

      The EPA’s Dr Mary Kelly has described the results as particularly worrying and said major efforts will be required to halt and reverse the trend.

      She said the rise of transport emissions was by far the largest in any sector and reflected a 160% increase on 1990 figures.

      This is very worrying but not surprising

    • #787469

      A major transport, water, motorway, sewage scheme or any project can or cannot go ahead purely on the basis of a last minute phone call from a property developer to a TD minister. The sudden surprise inclusion of the Rathfarmham Luas in Transport21 was due to a property developers feeling left out of the gravy train and demanding their snouts be included at the trough. This is how government transport policy is being developed.

      It’s gone beyond ‘nods and winks’ at this stage and actual orders on social and infrastructural policy are being given to government ministers from property developers. It’s not only the Government departments, but many of the semi-states themselves are intoxicated with property development. This is why you have Coiltte building golfcourses and hotels, while importaing logs from Scotland – and all the semi-states are doing this stuff. This whole society is drunk on a free-for-all property speculation and development. This is why we have a planning apocalypse.

      NIMBYs are also major problem. Look at the gap in the Luas and now some shower in Glasnevin are mobilising to try and delay the MetroNorth. NIMBYs provide Governments with good excuses to put projects on hold, especially if they are public transport related.

      One more thing on the subject of a city for the West. I do not know anything about this new group and they certainly sound well-intentioned, but I can tell you for a fact that in general West of Ireland lobbies are funded and very much operate on behalf of certain wealthy and politically connected business families, mainly in Mayo. So we have to be careful not to fall into this trap of thinking we are helping the country, reliving Dublin, and developing the West, when it’s just about further lining the pockets of the local rural aristocrats. On the surface the notion of a new large city west of the Shannon sounds harmless enough, but I would be inclined to think it’ll end up as nothing more than a collection of Lucans, Blanchardstowns and Tallaghts scattered in the fields around Knock Airport. It most certainly won’t be developed on behalf of the people of the West I can tell you that much.

      I think I am not going to bother voting in the next election as all the parties are equally bad. The only real alternative is maybe voting for the Greens, but their irrational, archaic view of nuclear power really puts me off them too even though they seem to have planning and transport sussed – I think they are really missing the boat on the nuclear issue.

      The country is shagged really when you think about it.

    • #787470

      Just on the subject of car ownership,
      here in new york city (bronx,brooklyn, queens and staten island) over 50% of households do not even own a car

      the figure is 75% for manhattan

      NYC completly goes against the US trend where 90% of americans (on average) drive to work:eek:
      This is not an accident, high density and excellent subway not buses! never understood how more buses and narrowing of our insanely narrow roads(to cars) are supposed to ease traffic
      Some people, i think are always going to drive, even just using the lousy weather is a good enough excuse
      More buses, maybe, in the very short term until solid rail links are in place

    • #787471

      Graham, I see this problem in a different way from you. The solution to this problem lies in development patterns and parking infrastructure rather than culture. People choose their mode of transport based on affordability and convenience considerations. This has always been the case and always will. Arguing with this is like arguing against gravity.

      So the solution is to make healthy, environmentally friendly options more convenient and affordable than driving
      @GrahamH wrote:

      26% of driving students live within two miles of the college.

      28% of students could walk, yet only 11% do.

      A key number in thinking about movement in urban design is the speed at which humans walk – 1.2m/second. Now, if 26% of students live within 2 miles of college that translates to a walking distance of at most 45 minutes. 45 minutes is too far to ask someone to walk. Around 10 minutes is the best you can hope for. So I would say that the statement that ‘28% of students could walk to college’ is false.

      So what could you do to make people walk or cycle more? Well one of two things, make driving less affordable or make walking more convenient than driving. The first option is not really on. We already have plenty of car taxes. Due to our pay-once-a-year-and-drive-as-much-as-you-can-to-get-your-value system, the marginal cost of making a car journey is very low. We could make those taxes mileage dependent and make people pay them monthly.

      Parking costs are very important here. Parking is never ‘free’ although it’s most often provided without charge. Student fees and government grants to college pay for the parking places, providing a subsidy to car driving students at the expense of those who walk or cycle. Likewise at your local retail store where the cost of the land used for parking is added to the price of everyone’s shopping. The logical conclusion is to make subsidised parking illegal and oblige car park owners to charge their users directly.

      The second option involves inconveniencing drivers. Parking has to be provided at a college but why not site the carpark 5 minutes walk from the college buildings (360m)? Parking has to be provided at housing estates but why not site that at the periphery of those estates? Now, when a student in a neighbouring estate to the college has to decide how to get to college in the morning he has to take into account that the car option involves a 5 minute walk at either end and that his parking place costs 3 quid for the day. Putting parking a short walk from residential and commercial facilities would require a change to planning guidelines but would also allow denser and more people friendly developments.

      Public transport could compete better in these circumstances.

      see also this book The High Cost of Free Parking

    • #787472

      I’ll look it up Frank thanks.

      Don’t get me wrong here: without question the primary problem we’re facing relates to settlement patterns and parking infrastructure (and wider road-oriented improvements of late). I’m merely saying that the sheer scale of the resulting car dependency is resulting in a growing car culture even with those for whom it is not essential to drive. It would appear anecdotally for example that even in the DKIT case above, some students come from rural homes around the country (as with every third level institute), and drive to Dundalk once a week to live in accommodation in neighbouring estates. They then continue this car dependency with which they are familiar from home, when living in the urban environment, driving the 5-10-15 minute walk to the college.

      Also I agree with you about walking two miles being excessive, however you slightly misconstrued the figures. The 26% living within a two mile radius refers just to those students who drive, i.e. walking, cycling or public transport are potentially other options for these people. The 28% of the overall student body who ‘could walk’ refers to those who live within a 2.5km radius of the college, or 1.5 miles, which equates to a 25 minute walk if walking the full distance. Interestingly most people in a city/urban environment wouldn’t bat an eyelid at walking such a distance – the Rathmines-Town walk being the classic example, and yet once you hit suburban/semi-rural, people suddenly think they’re going to be exposed to the worst weather and most treacherous conditions that could be thrown at them. Incidentally the 1.5 mile max while cycling takes the grand total of 10 minutes at a leisurely pace.

      Yes, without question parking charges are essential, and these shall be belately introduced in September, though not before an additional 150 spaces come on stream in what will be known as Car Park 9 or 10! Good point about the subsidy being offered to car-parking students, but this is at last shortly to be addressed (above). Yes, I think the level of car tax and VRT is a major incentive for people to use their car as much as possible – students especially want ‘maximum value’ from their vehicle, and frankly who can blame them. It’s been advocated many times recently that both of these elements should be subsumed into duties on fuel, hence making matters more equitable regarding both the environment and road usage in paying solely for the amount you drive.

      Great idea there for inconveniencing drivers, alas the campus has largely gone beyond the point of no return, with parking trapped around the buildings and surrounded by sprawling housing estates – all needless to say in themselves low density with two or three cars in the front drives. These estates wouldn’t be permitted anymore around Dublin city, and yet why are they being built within a stone’s throw of Dundalk town centre? Ah it’s only a regional town in Oirland – it’s not ‘urban’ or anything like that.

    • #787473

      The Irish poulation is now increasing at a rate of 80,000/year so it’s still worthwhile to think of future planning guidelines and not just wring our hands about past mistakes.

      Fuel duty alone is not the answer. If we increased fuel duty to a level to compensate for road tax, too much cross border refills would result (particularly in Dundalk). Also it would be unfair to rural drivers. A mile travelled in open countryside at night causes less environmental damage than a mile in a city centre at rush hour. Already the technology exists to track all journeys and charge according to the type of road travelled and the time of journey. I’d like to see VRT, road tax and annual insurance replaced with pay per mile according to the road travelled and the time of day. The Germans have been doing this for the past year with their trucks.

      On a more positive note, part of making walking and cycling more convenient than driving is to add more direct routes (shortcuts) for bike and pedestrian (overlooked by windows) through residential and commercial districts. Dundalk is not the only campus with this layout problem. UCD has multiple car parks close to the centre of campus and buildings dotted around its huge grounds up to 1.5km apart (21 minutes walk). If I worked there, I’d be driving between buildings.

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