Council is refused access to carry out South Kerry Greenway test works

Sinead Kelleher

Judge David Waters has refused Kerry County Council access to four separate sections of land along the South Kerry Greenway for investigation works, following a lengthy hearing.

The case, which has been before the court on a number of occasions, continued last week on Thursday, Friday and again on Monday. Council engineer Conor Culloo gave evidence on the type of works required; how the works will be carried out; and how the council would access the lands to carry out the works. He also told the court that any damage caused would be made good by compensation.

However, the legal team for some of the landowners said compensation was "no answer to damage". 

Landowners blocked Kerry County Council (KCC) from carrying out the investigation works, and KCC's civil action was brought to seek a warrant to enter four separate sections of land to carry out soil and drainage tests for the project.

The court had previously heard that the works are "not essential, but desirable".

Four landowners are involved - James Sheehan, Curra, Glenbeigh; James Dominic Michael Moriarty, Drom West, Glenbeigh; Patrick Murphy, Gornagree, Kells; and Paul O'Shea, also of Gornagree, Kells - as all have refused access to Kerry County Council.

The works include the extraction of soil for the purpose of ground investigations and a drainage survey of the lands. 

Mr Culloo said that the tests are to gather information on the sub-surface and topographical conditions of the land, and the court was told that they were only exploratory and would not change the route of the project. 

The case had been previously adjourned over confusion over certain discovery documents not being handed over to the defence teams. 

At last Thursday's hearing, Mr Culloo was cross-examined by the defence legal teams on the nature of the work. 

The court heard that, ultimately, the decision faced by Judge Waters was to either authorise the council to do the work or to not authorise it.  It was also said at the hearing that  some of the works, namely the trial pit, would take between 20 and 25 minutes in some cases. 

The court heard "it would be the first time in the history of the state that a local authority project would be done in 25 minutes". 

Judge David Waters ruled on Monday that he would not grant the warrants to Kerry County Council to enter the lands to carry out the works as they would cause more damage than what would be discovered. 

He said his ruling had nothing to do with the appropriateness or otherwise of greenways, the Compulsory Purchase Order, or the behaviour of any of the parties. He also made an order for costs for the landowners. 

Kerry County Council have yet to make a decision on whether or not to appeal the ruling.  The multi-million euro project is currently with An Bord Pleanála for a decision.