Kelly sets wheels in motion for 90 jobs
Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30
IT has the potential to deliver up to 90 jobs but the development of one of Europe's "most iconic tourist attractions" will need the co-operation of around 100 landowners along its route.
But Junior Transport Minister Alan Kelly said he understood "virtually everyone" was on board to deliver the newest attraction on the famed Ring of Kerry within two-and-a-half years.
The landmark viaduct near Kells will form part of a new greenway, a cycle and walkway spanning 26km from Glenbeigh to Cahirsiveen.
Government funding of €3.4m has already been allocated to the project, one of only three successful submissions out of 38 proposals received by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport under the Government's €11m National Cycle Network.
Kerry County Council has committed an additional €400,000 for the development that will create between 30 to 40 jobs during its construction phase, with a further 40 promised when completed.
An economic assessment carried out on the Great Western Greenway, from Westport to Achill Island, showed the attraction had helped create 50 jobs.
Announcing the funding, Mr Kelly said he hoped there wouldn't be any issue with access from landowners but the local authority and rural development company were confident this would not be the case.
"It would be a shame if there was any issue because this has the potential to create between 80 and 100 sustainable jobs in this area and it's fantastic for tourism and will probably become one of the best known greenways in western Europe because of the iconic views.
"But I understand virtually everyone is very positive about it and I expect it to go ahead and be completed within two-and-a-half years," Mr Kelly told the Irish Independent.
The route will take in some of the country's most stunning coastal scenery, and will also pass under two tunnels along the old Great Southern Railway line that closed in 1960.
The proposal will go to planning in the next few weeks, which can take up to six months.
IFA member and chairman of the South Kerry Development Partnership agricultural committee Pat O'Driscoll said farmers were fully behind the greenway project.