Tourists and locals were “frustrated” at the lack of progress on a western access road to Killarney National Park, the town’s mayor has said.
Cllr Brendan Cronin is calling for funding to be provided for the construction of the road which was given permission last March.
“There is an urgency to a Kerry County Council request to the NPWS to begin work in constructing the access road to Tomies Wood/O’Sullivans Cascade Beaufort, as full planning has been granted.”
Tomies Wood is inaccessible to the public for recreational use, and walkers are driving for hours to find they have to turn back.
The Killarney Municipal District committee paved the way for the road by voting through a material contravention of the development plan in the highly protected area.
An Taisce and other environmentalist organisations, and a local farm family, had opposed the road on the grounds of disturbance of the rarely visited area and its important species, but An Bord Pleanála rejected the appeal.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) argued successfully that recreation was a part of the function of a national park alongside conservation.
The proposal to construct a 1.2km public road and 28-space car park to the Killarney National Park at Tomies was limited and appropriate and would not seriously injure the ecology of the area, the board ruled.
Tomies, alongside the western shore of Lough Leane in the 25,000-acre Killarney National Park has some of the most ancient remaining sessile oak woods in Ireland.
Tomies is also where sea eagles now nest and the new road will give greater glimpses of a popular Victorian tourist spot — O’Sullivan’s Cascade, a waterfall rarely seen now and mainly reached by boat.
The new access is also to form part of the long-term Lough Leane Loop, a cycling and walking route circling the largest of the Killarney lakes.
Mayor Cronin said: “It is critical for tourists and for the general public alike to open up Tomies Wood. We are getting more and more walkers in the tourist sector in Killarney.”
The council had “cleared the decks” and it was now up to Fáilte Ireland, if necessary, and the NPWS to provide the funding and get the work done, he said.
The NPWS confirmed to the council that while funding is in place to complete the purchase of the required lands and the development of the car park no funding is available for the construction of the actual road yet.
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