Friday 24 January 2020

Councillors defer decision on Greenway

Omeath Greenway
Omeath Greenway

Olivia Ryan at Dundalk Municipal District meeting

Councillors agreed to defer any decision on the planned route of the latest section of the Greenway in north Louth.

A report from CEO Joan Martin was before the Dundalk Municipal District meeting, where the preferred route connecting Omeath village to the border was outlined.

This 4.2 kilometre route aims to connect Omeath Pier to the 'County Bridge' along the R173 at the border.

Members heard the route would mainly go through agricultural land and woodland belonging to a number of landowners and generally be situated along the old rail line embankment and the shore of Carlingford Lough.

The meeting was told there were seven submissions made as part of the planning process. These included a number of landowners, and state agencies.

Cllr. Conor Keelan was among those who objected to the proposed route.

He highlighted how the proposed pathway now takes a 'horseshoe route, in part abutting farmer's fields and also borders the public road.'

'From the point of view of public safety and encouraging separate usage, is it not better to clearly separate the greenway route from the public road for different types of route users.'

Speaking at the meeting Cllr. Keelan also asked about the cost of agricultural land which needs to be acquired, in comparison to the cost of land which would otherwise be bought for residential use.

Councillors were told that the greenway is primarily separated from the public road along its route 'save where there is no viable alternative option but to share the surface with the public road.'

Landowners and local residents, a number of whom attended the monthly Municipal meeting also highlighted a range of concerns about the proposed route, including loss of privacy on their property, and security concerns about access to their land.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr. Erin McGreehan argued that there had been a 'disjoint' in communications with landowners.

She said that they were not against the development of the Greenway, adding: 'There has to be a more fair way that will get this Greenway developed.'

She proposed that any decision be deferred to allow more time for consultation with landowners.

Chairman, Cllr. John McGahon said his preference would be to defer a decision on the Part 8 'until we have exhausted all avenues in dealing with residents concerns.

Cllr. Maeve Yore asked how many 'fully occupied residencies' were affected in the alternate route.

The meeting heard that 11 residential properties would be affected if the route was changed, and that the council had been advised to go with the 'horseshoe' route as outlined in the CEO's report.

Councillors were told that environmental issues had played a significant role in a preferred route being selected.

Senior Executive Officer, Frank Pentony warned councillors that the legislation around Part 8 planning meant that they would have six weeks after the CEO's report was issued. The latest date for members to make a decision was January 7th 2020.

He added that if any decision was made to amend the route, that would require a new Part 8 process.

The meeting heard that funding for the entire project was secured until 2023, and that this included all construction north and south of the border.

Councillors agreed to defer making a decision on the Part 8 until the January meeting of the Municipal District Committee.

The Argus