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Established 16/3/2000

One-third of Irish heritage sites now wiped out

Irish Independent, Wednesday, April 26, 2000, Page 3:

ONE in 10 of Ireland's archaeological sites and monuments is being wiped out every decade, says a worried Heritage Council. More than one-third of them have already been destroyed.

The council has criticised the £41bn National Development Plan for failing to provide proper protection against the ravages of new roads and other developments.

In its report, the council slams a government eco audit in the development plan which says ``the possibility of the emergence of some unsustainable patterns of development within the framework of the plan cannot be
excluded''. It says the Government plan does not contain any assessment of the massive impact on the environment from major infrastructural projects over the next seven years.

The agency also warns that environmental and heritage issues must be tackled at the start to avoid conflicts similar to Kildare By-pass and the the Glen of the Downs road widening.

These conflicts caused delays and mainly arose through ``a failure to recognise the potential for conflict and have clear strategies in place at an early stage which will avoid or resolve the conflict''.

It severely criticises the government plan as repeatedly conferring ``an unfair weighting to the pursuit of economic goals at the expense of environmental considerations''.

The Government eco audit was branded inadequate and unspecific as it failed to consider what unsustainable developments were likely to arise and to what extent they would result in long-term unsustainability.

The national plan did not comply with the Waste Management Act as it failed to set targets for waste minimisation which would help cut the amount of waste generated.

And the report hit out at the government document for failing to increase the proportion of all non car journeys made by public transport, cycling and walking and failing to develop a national framework for integrated
transport.

The council recommends the NDP be subjected to full strategic environmental assessment which it says was not achieved by a pilot eco audit.

The NDP contained a number of significant infrastructural proposals of a type that ``continually encounter major difficulties from an environmental perspective when such projects are at an advanced stage of planning and even implementation''.

Among its key recommendations it suggests a system of "heritage appraisal" incorporated into the development plans of all planning authorities.

It also calls for an examination of the NDP to discover its likely impact on the environment.

Read the story on the Irish Independent website

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