The council has unveiled emerging plans for a new walkway and cycleway on Hamilton Road and the Harry Reynolds Road in Balbriggan but the new facility will require the removal of up to 150 roadside trees.
Constultants, Atkins attended a meeting of the Local Area Committee last week to brief councillors on the emerging plan which has already seen some informal public consultation last December and will go through another formal period of public consultation in the coming months.
According to Atkins, the aim of the project is to improve pedestrian and cycling facilities on Hamilton Road nad Harry Reynolds Road, improve accessibility in the area and encourage physical activity.
The route willl serve a large number of residential, recreational and business areas of the town.
The route of the project had been pre-defined in the current Fingal County Development Plan so Atkins primarily looked at the design of the project.
The most controversial element of the plan is likely to be the necessity to remove 140 to 150 trees, mostly along the verge of the Harry Reynolds Road. to allow for the new infrastructure.
Most of those trees are not mature however, and Atkins and the council say the trees will be replaced by 200 new trees, planted in open space areas, nearby.
Cyclists and pedestrians will be segregated from traffic and from each other along most of the route but there will be a few places where pedestrian and cyclists will be required to share space.
Cllr Tony Murphy (NP) welcomed the project but said the tree removals will not be welcomed locally and it was important to identify the new location for re-planting quickly. Cllr Gráinne Maguire (NP) agreed and said that it was important the new trees would be planted as close to Harry Reynolds Road as possible.
Several councillors pointed out the need for a good communications strategy around the proposal so that locals are properly informed what is happening and in particular, that the reason for the removal of so many trees is required.
The council is likely to begin a Part VIII planning process on the project in March and further public consultation will be part of that planning process.