A further two weeks are being set aside for the planning hearings into the controversial South Kerry Greenway - mainly to allow the process hear from farmers objecting to the route selection and to the Compulsory Purchase mechanism.
The process which began two weeks ago has heard how the applicant Kerry County Council sees the greenway as necessary for “the common good”, and for the regeneration in terms of agri tourism of the west Iveragh area between Glenbeigh and Renard, near Cahersiveen.
But the hearing has also heard claims the council was inflexible and was sticking too rigidly to an old rail line closed by Todd Andrews in 1960. The CPO mechanism of land acquisition by the State land should only be used for major infrastructure and not for amenities, the planning meeting has been told.
The hearing has been told of trauma and upset as well as division in the community.
The costs of the project, unveiled in 2014, have also been revealed. According to a report in July 2018 the 32km paved route, involving bridges and culverts and fencing as well as repairs to iconic Victorian railway bridges and viaducts will be just shy of 21 million euro.
This will include €4m towards land purchase costs and almost €14m in construction costs.
Up to €1m is being spent on the planning stage for environmental and compulsory purchase preparation documents.
There is to be marketing spend of €25,000 a year and the council wants to spend €100,000 on a one-off marketing to coincide with the launch of the project.
Meanwhile, according to a lengthy report in the Kerry Weekly Reporter of September 16, 1893, which supplied the then Cork Examiner, the 27- mile Killorglin to Valentia Railway when it opened in mid- September 1893 cost £ 200,000 - paid for by the railway company the Great Southern & Western, the local barony and the Government of the time. Construction began on December 20th 1890.
The greenway for cyclists and pedestrians will take around 54 weeks to build, senior counsel Esmond Keane said yesterday, under questioning from Michael O’Donnell barrister for the Greenway Information Group of around 27 landowners.
Severance and sterilisation of farm land were issues raised yesterday. The 32km greenway will have 32 double gated crossings to allow farmers close off the greenway to access lands and move animals and there are to be 18 public roads crossings, the hearing was told.
The oral hearing into both the planning application under the Roads Acts, and the CPO mechanism under the Housing acts is to resume on November 11th for a further two weeks.
Michael O’Donnell, barrister for some of the farmers opposed to the CPO and route through their lands, raised the issue of the venue of the hearing which is being held in Tralee. That is an hour and a half drive for people from south Kerry, he said. His remarks reflect criticism from some in the room that the meeting has not been held in the communities affected.