'Farmers in Kerry are essentially being used as guinea pigs': Row over Greenway rumbles on
The ongoing Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process in Kerry with regard to the South Kerry Greenway should be a major cause for concern for landowners everywhere, according to ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock.
He said ICSA understands that Kerry County Council will initiate court proceedings against affected landowners in mid-April, paving the way for the CPO process to begin.
Mr Sherlock said, the consultation process for both the Galway and Kerry greenways was flawed from the outset.
“This was acknowledged by Minister Shane Ross at a meeting with ICSA in January 2017, who then promised a renewed consultation process.
“This consultation happened in the summer of 2017 and we await the publication of its findings.”
“It is laughable that Minister Ross could acknowledge that the process used was flawed, yet he would still choose to continue with that flawed process on these projects, with only a vague ambition to correct the process for future greenways.”
ICSA Galway representative Adrian Kelly added, “Farmers in Kerry are essentially being used as guinea pigs in this wholly defective project.
“The stakes are raising all the time and landowners are now faced with the imminent prospect of having lands swiped from underneath them.
“What happens in Kerry will no doubt set a template for what will happen in east Galway and Connemara.
“Time is of the essence now and I am calling on Minister Ross to desist from dragging landowners to court until a proper assessment of the consultation findings can be completed.”
The Department Transport, Tourism and Sport awarded funding of almost €4m to Kerry County Council in 2014 for the development of a South Kerry Greenway from Glenbeigh to Renard.
Minsiter Shane Ross said recently that he understands that Kerry County Council is continuing to work on planning, design and environmental assessment of the Greenway and expects to be in a position to submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in the coming months.
"Given the specific engineering challenges and potential land acquisition and other costs associated with the South Kerry Greenway, the funding currently allocated to the project will not be sufficient to provide for its construction.
"Kerry County Council is preparing a revised business case for this project which, I understand, will shortly be submitted to my Department for consideration," he said.
The Department is currently developing a Strategy for the future development of greenways which the Minister said he aims to publish in Q2 2018.
This Strategy will provide a long term vision and framework upon which Ireland's greenways can be planned in a strategic manner.
"The Strategy will also, among other things, seek to address the issues experienced in delivering the South Kerry Greenway and will provide guidance to all local authorities wishing to avail of funding under future funding calls," he said.
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