A NORTHSIDE community has hit out at the Government for failing to make a definite decision on the future of a controversial project proposed for their area.
Following intense media speculation that the Department of Transport is to scrap plans for the DART Underground project, residents in East Wall have called for the proposal to be abandoned altogether.
The residents fear they will be unable to sell their properties with the threat of the project hanging over them.
Angela Broderick, vice chairman of the Protect East Wall campaign group, a sub group of East Wall Residents’ Association, said locals have been left high and dry due to the uncertainty. They are concerned that this could drag on for years.
“It’s totally unfair,” Ms Broderick told Northside People.
“Because the Government haven’t made a definite decision, it has left us in limbo. I don’t see why we should be punished like this.
“The expert property witness we employed stated in evidence at the oral hearing that there would be an overall devaluation of 10 per cent on property in East Wall if the DART Underground project went ahead.
“He also stated in evidence that this would rise to 30 per cent and 50 per cent according to how near the homes were to the areas affected by the work.
“It is a huge hit for local residents to take on top of the reduction in house prices anyway.”
Ms Broderick said that of the 1,700 houses in East Wall, around 400 were directly affected and residents could face the prospect of a 50 per cent reduction in the price of their homes.
She was also critical of the fact that the residents had to attend an oral hearing knowing that there was a good possibility that the Government would have to scrap the plan due to the downturn in the economy.
“The economic situation had already turned and we still had to go through with the oral hearing which proved to be a very costly exercise,” she argued.
“We had to do a lot of fundraising in the community and the overall cost was $68,000 to fight our case. This amount does not include the cost to individuals who made submissions and there were almost 100 submissions from East Wall alone.
The Residents’ Association was left broke. We are calling on the Government to totally abandon this project.”
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said the Government has not made a decision about any of the major rail projects proposed for Dublin, including the DART Underground.
“A comprehensive review of all capital spending is currently underway in all Government departments, including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport,” she told Northside People.
“Because we do not have the resources to proceed with every project, and cannot borrow funding with the markets closed to us, this review will determine which projects and programmes will be prioritised. “The final plan will be published as a new National Development Plan for the period 2012-2017.
“As part of the capital review, major transport projects such as Metro North, DART Underground and Luas BXD are being assessed on their potential to stimulate the economy, create jobs and provide important transport links. But the most important criterion will be affordability.”
The spokeswoman added: “No decisions will be made outside of that process and no decision will be taken before the review concludes.”
North inner city ward councillor Nial Ring (Ind) has described the situation as “unacceptable” to the residents.
"They have organised themselves and attended and presented at the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing on the project, as I did myself,” he stated.
"The question of the effect of tunnelling on human health, as well as the decision to start the tunnelling in East Wall, was raised, as were issues such as dust, noise, vibration, traffic and spoil transport. A major issue was the years of disruption which would impact on the value and saleability of houses in the area.
"While we all recognise the economic situation and the need for cutbacks, the problem is that if the project is deferred then uncertainty will remain and residents will effectively be left in limbo as regards selling property, as no one would be prepared to buy a house in an area where there is an overhanging possibility of major disruption in the future.”
Cllr Ring said Minister Varadkar has a duty to the residents to give them certainty about their future by either going ahead with the project or abandoning it altogether.
“The people of East Wall should not be left with this hanging over them for what could be many years," he added.