A 5% increase in daily traffic volumes on one of the most controversial road schemes ever built in the country resulted in its operators generating over €275,800 per week in operating profits last year.

New figures show that the M3 Motorway recorded €14.34m in operating profits for its private operator, Eurolink Motorway Operations (M3) Ltd last year.

Revenues at the firm last year increased by 9.5% to €22.3m as average daily traffic volumes increased by 5%.

The 51km M3, that runs from Clonee to north of Kells, was built at a cost of almost €1 billion.

Pre-tax profits at the company increased by 16% from €6.38m to €7.39m.

The company recorded the pre-tax profits after paying out €6.9m in finance costs.

The scheme was the largest infrastructure scheme delivered through a Public Private Partnership at the time.

The controversial motorway was the subject of a series of protests as it runs near the ancient Hill of Tara, bypassing Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells.

The firm's revenues are made up of road tolls and operational payments from the National Roads Authority - last year, revenues from the company’s financial asset totalled €13.9m and operating cost income amounted to €8.3m.

The payments from the NRA include traffic guarantee payments that are paid if sufficient volumes of motorists do not use the tolled route.

The guarantee was put in place due to the high cost of the route and due to it being a challenging project to deliver.

The company had bank loans totalling €93.3m at the end of last year.

The firm recorded post tax profits of €6.46m after paying out corporation tax of €929,000.

There are two toll plazas - one at Pace, between Dunshaughlin and Clonee, and one at Grange, between Navan and Kells.

The numbers employed by the operator of the route last year decreased from 24 to 23 with staff costs decreasing to €1.38m.

The directors of the firm state that they have an expectation that traffic volumes will improve in the medium to long term.