Perhaps Cups Of Tea are more beneficial than CPOs?
I was disappointed but not surprised to hear the development of the Galway/Roscommon stretch of the coast-to-coast greenway has been stopped or, to use the slightly more hopeful term of Paschal Donohoe, the government minister concerned, "paused".
Disappointed, because I believe that cycleways have much to offer to rural Ireland and this help is badly needed. Teagasc figures for 2014 show that 37pc of Irish farms are economically viable. In the southeast, the figure is over 50pc while, in the west, it is just 16pc.
Outside of farming, tourism is the only realistic and indigenous option to generate income in many rural areas. Fortunately, it is also labour intensive and can provide much-needed employment to local communities, including farmers and their families.
However, in recent months, there were reports of farmer opposition to this particular stretch of cycleway and then, into the pot, came the mention of Compulsory Purchase Orders.
For many farmers, this is a red rag to a bull; they feel their livelihood is being wrecked just for someone else's convenience or recreation. This hostility is not exclusive to farmers but, perhaps because of the long hard battle that people went through in this country to secure their land, it is particularly strong in the farming community.
CPOs have had plenty of airtime the past 20 years due to the construction of our various motorways.
Indeed, I wonder if it could be argued that motorways have largely been responsible for giving CPOs a bad name, in the sense that they have generally transmitted little positive economic or social benefit on the areas they traverse.
A 3m cycleway will cause nothing like the same disruption as a 30m motorway. Though part of the problem may actually be that the amount of land being lost is too small, in the sense that the rate of compensation might be attractive but the overall compensation is not. So perhaps there needs to be more focus on ongoing farmer involvement/interest in greenway maintenance?