Greenway on the way
Kerry County Council will finalise the route of the proposed South Kerry Greenway within the next fortnight with a public consultation process to follow.
A 'Route Selection Report' for the 32-kilometre greenway from Glenbeigh to Renard had been pencilled in for completion last Friday but a council spokesperson this week said the local authority hoped to finalise matters in the next week or two.
The council will then schedule public consultation meetings in Cahersiveen to outline the trail's final alignment.
The project would see the greenway erected along a disused railway line, but the council's decision to acquire the lands by compulsory purchase order (CPO) has led to criticism from several affected landowners.
In response to a notice of motion by Cllr Michael Cahill at Friday's South and West Kerry Municipal District meeting, the local authority said "very good progress" is being made in finalising relevant details. The CPO has not yet been completed but this is expected in the coming months.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently being completed by Kerry County Council and will be submitted to An Bord Plenála as part of the final planning application.
The council spokesperson said that KCC continues to engage with landowners at a number of locations along the trail "to ensure that the requirements of landowners along the proposed route are dealt with adequately and that the necessary accommodation works can be agreed".
Meanwhile, Cllr Johnny Healy Rae says he is in no way against the project, stating that it would do "untold good" for the area, but he has expressed concerns in relation to the CPO.
"When this process started out, the council held five or six public meetings with interested parties - the mood was initially very positive, and they were all willing to negotiate in some way.
"But I do feel they've lost a lot of that goodwill by going down the route of a CPO, a lot of people weren't happy with that approach. If you look at the greenways in Waterford and Mayo, there were concerns there too but the projects were completed without a CPO. I fear the CPO could lead us to legal wrangling and derail the project," he added.
In response to Cllr Healy Rae's comments, a KCC spokesperson said the authority attempted to acquire the required land by agreement but that this did not prove possible.
The council defended its decision to pursue the land by CPO on the grounds of economic and tourism reasons.
"The council strongly believes that this project is a key strategic one for south Kerry and is a top priority for the local authority," a council response read.