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26/10/2021

Laois council forced to buy a hedge for safety work at very dangerous crossroads

Councillors angry

Laois County Council HQ Portlaoise

Rosenallis couple settle their case against Laois County Council

It will take a year to force a landowner to sell a small parcel of land where a hedge has to be removed for road safety reasons at a dangerous Laois crossroads .

Confirmation that council will have to force the sale of land annoyed county councillors when Laois County Council confirmed that that was the only option left for the Cullenagh Cross, Ballylinan and Castletown Cross.

Money has already been approved for the safety work but they cannot proceed unless the landower gives access which has not happened.

Cllr Aisling Moran, Fine Gael,  called on the council to erect stop signs and road markings at all four roads at Cullenagh Cross, Ballylinan and at Castletown Cross and to remove the ditch at Castletown Cross as it is a health and safety concern.

Philip McVeigh, Senior Executive Engineer, replied at a recent Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District meeting. 

“Signage will be installed on the two approach roads to the Cullenagh crossroads where there is currently no signage.  Road markings will be installed on the approaches, making the crossroads an all-stop. 

“At Castletown, additional signage will be installed on the approaches.  The removal of the hedge at Castletown was included in the 2021 Safety Improvement Scheme but may have to be included in a compulsory purchase process in order to complete the full scope of works at this location,” he said.

Cllr McVeigh also told councillors that the CPO will likely take up to a year but agreement could be reached before that.

Cllr Moran welcomed the additional signs but suggested 3D signs. She said this was one of many junctions need to be removed. Cllr Moran claimed the landowners do not loose anything but some choose to delay.

“I think some landowners see this as a way to make a few pounds holding things up for years,” she claimed.

She insisted that the CPO process in all cases should have been proceeded with on ‘day one’.

She said local people drive ‘in fear’ at the crossroads.

Cllr Padraig Fleming, Fianna Fáil, said he had been raising the matter over years. He thanked the council for efforts made but said there has “non co-operation” from a landowner.

“It is a very serious situation. It is a dangerous crossroads. You have to take out the ditch to make it safe,” he said.

He agreed that the council must have powers to carry out safety works unimpeded.

He said it was "very unfair and wrong" for the landowner not to cooperate.

Money allocated to the project to be completed in 2021 has had to be reallocated elsewhere.

Director of Services Gerry Murphy said an attempt to purchase property has to be made by a local authority before a CPO process begins.

Cllr Moran insisted however that the council was not taking away land in this instance but was removing hedges. She said the landowner could potentially end up with more land as a result of the works being carried out.

Cllr Fleming proposed that money be set aside for the CPO in the 2022 budget. 

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