The sod has been turned on two Kerry greenways – Tralee to Fenit and Kilmorna to Listowel.
Funding of €6.5 million for the cycleways is being supplemented by an increase in the local property tax.
These new sections of greenway form part of the planned future 100km cycling and walking amenity route which will eventually link Limerick to Fenit via Listowel and Tralee, and which is being developed under the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s ‘Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways.’
However, there is continuing doubt over one of the country’s first planned greenways, the iconic 32km South Kerry greenway.
The An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into Kerry County Council’s planning application and the compulsory purchase order for south Kerry greenway ended two weeks ago.
The hard fought hearing held in Tralee had run to four weeks, twice the time frame expected.
A target date for a decision on the planning as well as the compulsory purchase order on the dozens of land parcels needed has been set for January 17, An Bord Pleanála said .
However because of the over-run in the hearing and the amount of material now to be gone through, that target date is likely to be significantly extended, An Bord Pleanála said last night.
Announced on the Kells viaduct, in 2014, as the flagship project of the national greenway strategy, with a promise of over €3 million in funding, the South Kerry greenway not only has not progressed but the funding it would have attracted has gone to the north Kerry greenways.
“There is no doubt, if the south Kerry Greenway had gone as planned, the north Kerry greenways could not have progressed so quickly. The money for them would simply not have been given,” a senior council official has confided.
The route planned by the council for the Glenbeigh to Renard south Kerry Greenway is largely along what was once an old rail line, closed in 1960, but which is now private property.
Meanwhile, in north Kerry, construction on the 10km Tralee-Fenit is set to begins.
The Tralee-Fenit project will see a continuation of an amenity trail on the outskirts of Tralee which was developed by Kerry County Council in 2016 and which links Casement Railway Station and Mounthawk.
And 10.5km of a greenway from Kilmorna to Listowel which will bring the Great Southern Greenway westwards into Kerry and towards the sea increasing GSG to over 50km.
The two Kerry greenways received some €6.5m funding this summer and were among ten greenway projects awarded grants by the Department of Transport and Tourism.
They are being supplemented by €1.2m in funding which was agreed by a majority of councillors as part of the recent increase in the base rate of the Local Property Tax in Kerry.
Construction is expected to take between 18 months and two years.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Kerry TD Brendan Griffin who turned the sod declared it a hugely important day for Kerry and said that the new greenways will greatly enhance the visitor experience and leisure offering in the county.