A spokesperson representing residents on an access lane to the South East Greenway 'Red Bridge' route has outlined numerous concerns they have about the volume of traffic on the artery, including danger to users of the route and financial implications for farmers, saying they were not consulted by Wexford County Council.
A spokesperson for the New Ross Greenway group said: 'The main concern - not just for residents - but for all future users of the greenway is one of health and safety.'The lane way is a narrow boreen without a footpath. Route B (L-80371-1) is a narrow country lane that links the Red Bridge to the R700 as part of the Rosbercon - Mount Elliott spur. Route B is around 0.7 km from the Red Bridge to the R700, steeply inclined for the most part and 9.5 feet in width in places.'
The lane includes six blind bends and 17 residential entrances that access the lane directly. 'The lane way is the only access route to a busy dairy farm located at the end of L-80371-1. Heavy goods vehicles such as milk lorries, grain lorries, tractors and large trailers and refuse collection lorries frequently use Route B, not to mention the vehicles that are used on a daily basis by residents (20 residences in total use Route B). If the lane way is not safe to be branded a "Greenway" then it is similarly unsuitable as a promoted access route.
'It is our submission that the use of Route B in the Rosbercon to Mount Elliott spur does not comply with the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways or Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) Rural Cycleway Design Standard (Offline) DN-GEO-03047 and poses a serious safety risk to users.'
The spokesperson said no direct consultation has been made whatsoever by Wexford County Council to any of the residents of the Mount Elliott lane way (Route B), other than a brief discussion with the dairy farmer (John Brennan) on the height of the bridge that will cross over the lane way.
'No concern was shown by Wexford County Council to the negative impact a greenway would have to his business if the lane way was used. We believe objections were made and lodged at planning stage for both greenway applications (LAC1611 and LAC1803). Quite frankly, it was felt concerns raised were treated with disdain by Wexford County Council.'
The spokesperson said that their experience of Part 8 applications by local authorities are that they are a 'paper exercise', voted on by councillors and that ordinary people have little opportunity to challenge them. 'Those who raise concerns have no recourse to An Bord Pleanala unlike normal planning applications. Your only recourse is to the High Court and this is beyond the average citizen given the legal costs involved.'
Letters of concern were obtained by Mr Brennan from principals of Arrabawn Co-op (Milk) and Brett Brothers Ltd (Animal feed). In both letters, serious health and safety concerns were raised by both companies should the lane way be used as a greenway. 'We understand all of the above concerns were raised with a senior official in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport who, it is believed, passed them on to Wexford County Council. Given the seriousness of the concerns raised, the DTTAS felt it necessary to bring their funding assessment panel to walk the lane way on April 25, 2019.'
Complete disregard has been shown to residents by Wexford County Council who have a duty of care to home owners and landowners, the spokesperson said reckless. 'No agronomist was appointed during the planning process as per the DTTAS Strategy for Future Development of National and Regional Greenways.'
The spokesperson said a similar situation arose on the Waterford to New Ross Greenway route. 'Originally the route included a 660 metre on-road section at Aylwardstown where cyclists and walkers would come off the greenway on the old, disused railway line, but following a submission received through the public consultation process, a consultant recommended staying on the route of the tracks. Issues had arisen with farmers with herds and local residents. We believe Transport Infrastructure Ireland clearly require greenways to be completely off road if they are to be allowed use the greenway brand. We believe legal advice has been sought on the matter at Mount Elliott.'
New Ross District Director Eamonn Hore said: 'It's not a greenway. We, as the local authority, are more than conscious about health and safety. The lane was never included as a greenway; it's a public road that happens to pass under the greenway. People are entitled to walk on it.'
He said signage will alert people using the lane to access or exit from the greenway that it is a shared surface. 'It's the same as Cherry's Road. There are loads of public roads that pass through railways and greenways and people can come off them if they want to. Even if we don't do anything with it, people will walk on it.'
He denied local residents weren't consulted, saying there were three planning processes initiated and completed, adding that the greenway extends through the tunnel and onto a public road - the N30 from where people can walk into New Ross via Cherry's Road.
'Otherwise people would turn around having gone through the tunnel and walk back in. It was adding to the experience.'
He said: 'It's a quiet lane way. Whether we like it or not the greenway crosses it [the lane], which is suitable for adults to walk on. The greenway, we know, is going to be fact of life. 90 per cent of people will go on through the tunnel and 10 per cent might come off it to go for a pint in Mannion's.'
New Ross Standard