The recent publication of a multi-million coastal erosion plan by Irish Rail could prove a 'game-changer' over plans for the East Coast Greenway link from Wicklow town to Greystones.
Irish Rail commissioned Arup to review the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study (ICPSS) and revise and forecast erosion rates for the coastline from Ringsend to Wicklow town.
Ciarán Lally, chairperson of the East Coast Greenway Committee, has welcomed the report's publication and believes it will help with progress on the East Coast Greenway plans.
'It's very positive news for us. One of the main issues for us securing funding was the fact that the Arup report still wasn't out yet. This should be a game-changer for us in regards to getting funding. Irish Rail seem very bullish. Before the publication of the report, people were afraid that a greenway would be washed away in 10 or so years' time.
'If the coast is protected, then there is no reason why the East Coast Greenway can't progress. This is a major obstacle out of the way.'
Irish Rail commissioned the survey to protect the coastal railway line from encroaching erosion. Planned works from Greystones to Newcastle to Wicklow town, also taking in the Murrough, could cost up to an estimated €125 million and will have significant benefits for the existing railway line as well as for the Murrough and Broadlough.
From Newcastle to the Murrough, it is planned to upgrade and extend the Wicklow revetment and place detached breakwaters in areas at immediate risk of erosion. Beach nourishment will be carried out at areas adjacent to the detached breakwaters and dune regeneration works will also take place.
A detached breakwater system will be put in place between Greystones and Newcastle, along with beach nourishment at areas adjacent to the detached breakwaters and dune regeneration.
The next tranche of Government funding for greenways is expected to take place in September, and the East Coast Greenway Committee has already started lobbying TDs and ministers for support.
'Our plan is to lobby hard to get the funding as soon as possible. The Department of Transport has said that Irish Rail have their coastal protection works ready to go. All the TDs we have spoken to said no Irish Government is going to let the railway line slip into the sea. It's far too important infrastructure and Bray Head and Wicklow town are the two major pinch points.
'Our next step is to get funding for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). We want to work hand in glove with nature and not cause any damage. If the EIS doesn't throw up an environmental concerns, then we could have a greenway in the next few years,' said Mr Lally.