M11 service area to bring 200 construction jobs

Two-hundred construction jobs are being created by Applegreen service stations with the building of a new €7m service station at Coynes Cross on the site of the former Cullenmore Hotel.

Applegreen announced it was pumping a €7m fully privately funded investment into its motorway service areas network, creating a new super service station at Junction 14 on the M11, the major inter-urban route from Dublin to Wexford passing through Wicklow.

The new motorway service area is due to open in summer 2014, with enabling works starting next month on site.

More than 200 jobs will be created during construction of the motorway service area and the facilities will be on a par with Applegreen’s existing six sites in three locations on the M1 from Dublin to Belfast and on the M4 from Dublin to Galway.

The location of the new facility is the realisation of a long-term plan to regenerate the ‘brown field’ lands on the site of the original Cullenmore Hotel and service station on the old N11 route.

The hotel thrived in its day but its business and jobs were destroyed when the lands for the new M11 were compulsorily purchased from local businessman Dirk van der Flier in 2004.

Planning permission for the new service area was sought by Applegreen and Mr van der Flier in May 2012 and was granted by Wicklow County Council in November 2012. An Bord Pleanála upheld the County Council’s decision following an appeal process in June 2013.

An Applegreen spokesman confirmed that the National Roads Authority(NRA) also received approval from An Bord Pleanála in 2010 for a similar motorway service area on the M11 near Gorey, approximately 20 minutes south of the Applegreen site. That proposal is a standalone module within the recently announced Arklow-Rathnew PPP M11 upgrade.

The Applegreen spokesman said it was viable that the two service areas could proceed on the same route referring to the An Bord Pleanála Order and environmental impact statement submitted by the NRA, which was the basis on which the NRA was originally granted approval to build a service area near Gorey.

An impact statement was submitted by the NRA in 2008, which made the case to allow An Bord Pleanála to confirm the Gorey service area project as ‘necessary’ at the time, overruling the many objections, ‘having regard’ to its predicted traffic flows, as well as the Roads Acts, the National Development Plan, the Wexford County Development Plan and NRA policy and guidelines. The statement also envisaged only one site would be required on the route from Wexford to Dublin and predicted ‘opening year’ traffic level in excess of 20,000 vehicles per day at the Gorey location.

The Applegreen spokesman confirmed that the current recorded traffic levels on the M11 at Gorey, taken from the NRA traffic counters on its website, were about a third less than predicted by the NRA in 2008. They said that the ‘opening year’ levels of traffic that were predicted for the service area at Gorey (then envisaged by the NRA as opening in 2010) were now unlikely to be achieved until sometime after 2033, 20 years or so from now.

This was because traffic levels on the route have actually been falling rather than growing since records began in 2006, with a significant turnaround in traffic growth required to even reverse the current decreasing trend.

The M11 route carries an average of 35,000 motorists per day at the ‘Coynes Cross’ junction, Junction 14.

The spokesman also pointed out that a completion date for the upgrade of remaining 35km of the route from Gorey to Wexford is unlikely be announced any time soon, given current reality of financial constraints at national level. In the interim, he said the remainder of the route south of Gorey is currently more than adequately served by several other easily accessible local service stations at Camolin, Ferns and further south.

The spokesman confirmed that Applegreen did agree with the NRA environmental impact analysis that one site was sufficient to serve the route and confirmed that it was fully prepared to fund its ‘shovel-ready’ plans without any recourse to the exchequer, whereas the NRA site at Gorey would be likely to require a significant state subsidy to be viable.

Enabling works at the Applegreen site are due to start later this month and it is expected to be open by summer 2014, when it will then support over 100 jobs both directly and indirectly in the local community of Wicklow.

Commenting on Applegreen’s announcement, Joe Barrett, director of operations said: ‘Applegreen is Ireland’s leading independent, 100 per cent Irish-owned forecourt retailer and nothing could give us more pleasure than to support employment creation in Wicklow, particularly in these constrained economic times.

‘We have invested heavily in the Irish economy across our network and this further motorway service area investment of €7m for the M11 and Wicklow is just the latest demonstration of our commitment to provide outstanding value and quality to the Irish motorist and indeed the non-motoring public who visit Applegreen stores.’ SOurce: The Irish Independent