Hundreds of farmers get CPO notice for Greenway

Anne Lucey

Hundreds of farmers in Kerry have received notification that part of their lands are to be acquired for a greenway through compulsory purchase.

The council in Kerry has lodged a planning application with An Bord Pleanala  for the South Kerry Greenway, a 32km cycleway along the old Great Southern Railway and it has notified almost 200 landowners of  acquiring the land parcels by Compulsory Purchase Order.

The move by the council to CPO the entire route is being criticised by farmers and by the IFA nationally, who view Kerry County Council’s use of the CPO facility for a greenway as unprecedented and as a test case for all farmers.

However the council says it has no choice but to force the sale after it failed to reach agreement over the past four years with all 197 landowners . 

Unlike Waterford, for instance, the railway in south Kerry which closed in 1960 was not kept in public or rail company ownership.

The council says the greenway would be "a key economic driver" for the Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen region which is becoming depopulated. It also points to the fact the project has been voted into the county development and local area plans, which means there is an obligation on council management to progress it.

The CPO, published on Friday involves 222 pieces of land measuring between  0.001 hectares to over 0.2 of a hectare. Among the owners are several public bodies including the council itself, CIE, An Coillte as well as individual farmers, some of whom own a number of pieces of the old line.

As well as a three-metre paved surface, car parks are to be constructed and old tunnels and bridges are to be restored in an ambitious design project.  

Around 40 or so landholders are objecting to the route through their lands and want the council engineers to fix on alternatives.

Sections of the main Ring of Kerry road are still lined with signs saying “Greenway yes, CPO, no”

In July over 100  farmers from around the country staged a protest organised by the IFA staged outside county buildings in Tralee. The IFA said farmers fear if Kerry County Council manages to acquire lands using the  CPO – then  other councils are waiting in the wings to do the same, and land will be taken off farmers for myriad minor purposes.

They say the CPO device, which is under the Housing and Roads Acts, should be reserved for major infrastructure projects.

The council, meanwhile, has said submissions in relation to the CPO must be made in writing before close of business on Friday October 19.

It is expected Bord Pleanala will hold an oral hearing in Kerry.

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