'We won't give up fight against CPO': Greenway protest escalates in Kerry
Kerry County Council has been accused of “heavy handed, bullying” tactics to acquire land for the South Kerry Greenway by local landowners who took their fight to council headquarters in Tralee on Tuesday.
Up to 150 people, including farmers and landowners from South Kerry, backed an IFA-led protest to voice anger at the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to acquire land.
Christy McDonnell from Foilmore told The Kerryman the council is not listening to the farmers. “There has been no negotiations in two years – it is high time the truth came out. They are using bully-boy tactics. Each and every farmer is for the greenway.
When it was first started 85 per cent were in favour and when the council took over that support dropped.
“We are not giving up. We will go to Europe or to the highest court in the land. We are going the distance.”
Jim Moriarty from Glenbeigh said the intended route would go right through his reclaimed fields as well as his daughter’s driveway.
“They are going diagonally through my fields and I am worried about my livelihood,” he said.
Local farmer, Morgan Lyne said the issue was much more than Greenways. “It will be about land acquisition rights if it goes to
The south Kerry farmers were joined by their counterparts from across the country as almost 150 farmers voiced their concerns at plans by Kerry County Council to acquire the land for the project by CPO.
The IFA says that there have been little meaningful negotiations with farmers and the organisation has called on the local authority to halt the CPO process and open dialogue with farmers along the route. Up to 170 landowners are affected in total.
Up to 50 landowners, the majority farmers, are opposed to the project, it has been claimed and CPO opponents say that there are 32 people currently in a local group set up to oppose the process.
The message from landowners on Tuesday was that they are not against the greenway but are opposed to use of the CPOs to acquire the land. They want to negotiate with the council on the best route to take.
Michael O'Sullivan from Foilmore, who owns some of the railway line, says that the council is seeking some of this land for the route, though not the actual land on the former railway route.
He wants the greenway route to go around his fields but the council have refused this option, he claims.
"They are not listening to use and they are not consulting with us."
Michael Sheehy from Renard will be faced with the greenway running right in front of his house, he claims. Again, he says the council won't listen to other alternatives including using a nearby local road. "They don't negotiate. They just tell you."
The IFA has said it will stand firm and fight. "The message is we want Kerry County Council to adopt the guidelines in the strategy, appoint an agronomist and listen to farmers," said IFA Environmental Chairman Thomas Cooney.
Kerry County Council said in statement that the local authority has spent two years negotiating with landowners but was unable to get an agreement
"There was detailed, lengthy and comprehensive engagement with approximately 170 landowners. As it was not possible to acquire the land by negotiation, the council decided to acquire the land by CPO
"Kerry County Council has met with IFA representatives on a number of occasions and will do so again," the council statement added.