Locals object to development plans for wood
THE Colonel's Wood in Westport is recorded in the Ordnance Survey of Ireland map of 1838.
Compromising 76.3 hectares, it is within walking distance of the Co Mayo town and Coillte plans to develop an 86-bedroom nursing home on a portion of the site.
It was refused planning permission to develop 61 houses in the wood in 1993.
Local resident and opponent Edel Hackett said the wood is part of the town.
"It's accessible, you can walk to it from the town," she said. "I would have used it since I was a kid and you can get down to the river at the other side of the wood.
"It could be so much better, a woodland amenity in a tourist town to be used by local people and tourists.
"The residents would like to see... if there's going to be development, it should be trails to be used as an outdoor amenity."
Residents first heard about the plans in November. The following month, the planning application was lodged with Westport Town Council.
"Because it was just before Christmas, it wasn't until early January before people began to realise what was going on and the scale of the development," Ms Hackett said.
"There's a communal objection and there are nearly 90 names on that.
"The woods are there for more than walking, they're part of the town. It's a backdrop to the town, it adds to its environment."