Greenway progress for Kerry

Minister confident of funding for South Kerry and Fenit Greenways

Minister Brendan Griffin
Minister Brendan Griffin

Sinead Kelleher & Stephen Fernane

Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin is confident government funding will be made available for the south Kerry greenway and the Tralee to Fenit greenway following announcements in the past week that both infrastructural projects will progress.

Speaking at the O'Connell Summer School, Minister Griffin said the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will be rolling out funding for greenways and he expected that Kerry would be well placed to access some of that funding.

"I certainly think Kerry would have a strong case, not just here in south Kerry but also with the proposed greenways from Tralee to Fenit and Kilmorna to Listowel which are more straightforward projects because the land remained in CIE hands and has never gone back into private ownership."

He also said that he believed the south Kerry greenway project would move ahead and that the current opposition to the project would be resolved.

Last week Kerry County Council lodged planning for the 32km south Kerry greenway between Glenbeigh and Renard.

The planning application to An Bord Pleanála comprises an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR)and the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the acquisition of the privately-owned lands. If confirmed by An Bord Pleanála, the CPO will allow Kerry County Council to acquire the land necessary for the project.

The scheme impacts on 222 landholdings and 197 landowners and will be constructed within the townlands of Reenard, Garranearagh, Garranebane, Cahersiveen, Cloghanelinaghan, Killurly West, Ballydarrig, Killurly East, Dooneen, Tullig, Foilduff, Ballynahow More, Lisbane, Gortnagree, Boulerdah, Cahernaman, Knockaneyouloo, Cappamore, Gortaforia, Gleensk, Kilkeehagh, Coolnaharragill Upper, Coolnaharragill Lower, Drom West, Drom, Curra and Faha. Some landowners are opposed to the CPO process and have repeatedly appealed to the council not to go down that route.

This week the IFA said that the council's decision to move ahead with the CPO is the "death knell" of the project.

"KCC's actions are excessive and unnecessary. Landowners continue to demonstrate a genuine willingness to engage and provide alternative routes on their holdings," said IFA Environment Committee ChairmanThomas Cooney.

He further claimed that Kerry County Council's actions breach funding guidelines.

"KCC's actions have breached Ministers Griffin's and Minister Ross's strategy for the development of greenways. Funding for local authorities is based on the appointment of agronomists to minimise the impact of severance on landowners, as well as developing the support and goodwill of landowners and local communities. KCC is in breach of all of these funding criteria."

Copies of the planning documentation is available at council offices in Killorglin, Cahersiveen and Tralee and on the Kerry County Council website. Submissions must be lodged with An Bord Pleanála by 19 October next.

An Bord Pleanála may decide to hold an oral hearing having regard to any submissions received.

Meanwhile, Tralee Municipal District approved plans for the development of new 10.3km greenway between Tralee and Fenit on Monday and will now apply for funding in November.

The project will extend from the townland of Ballynahoulort in Tralee to Fenit village. It includes the continuation of an amenity trail on the outskirts of the town which was developed by Kerry County Council in 2016, and which links Casement Railway Station and Mounthawk at Bracker O'Regan Road.

The project will complete the remaining rural section of the route on lands in the ownership of Kerry County Council and will predominantly follow the railway corridor. Works will be completed in one phase.