Compulsory purchase orders may be needed for greenway

Kerry County Council will look at other options, including alternative routes, if progress on the proposed iconic cycle and pedestrian greenway along the old Cahersiveen to Glenbeigh railway is impeded.

A compulsory purchase order approach may also be considered, according to a council spokesman.

Last week, the council rejected calls for increased compensation for landowners from €15,000 an acre to €25,000.

It said the project, for which €4m was announced in May, was under financial pressure and all landowners would have to agree if it were to progress.

Around 120 landowners are involved. The council confirmed at the weekend that the section between Cahersiveen and Renard had progressed much further than other sections with most, if not all landowners, “on board”.

Progress is much slower on other sections, however.

There has been a series of discussions with some landowners and council officials since July.

The project had been hailed as world-class, with dramatic views over Dingle Bay and Kells along the old viaduct, and it offers massive spin-offs for tourism.

However, there was criticism that it was announced publicly before agreement was reached with landowners. The route of the old railway is now completely privately-owned.

The council said that much groundwork had been done by the project promoters, South Kerry Development Partnership.

“It would not have been possible to reach agreement prior to the announcement of funding, but that announcement demonstrated the commitment to the project. It is hoped that we will reach agreement with all landowners, and where we do not, we will look at alternatives,” the spokesman said.

This would include bypassing sections, and compulsory purchase as a last resort.

In recent weeks, councillor Michael Cahill had called for “adequate compensation” to be provided.

He said most of the landowners owned less than an acre of the proposed route. “For the vast majority of these landowners, only a short strip of land is involved.

“But we are talking about cutting through lawns, back yards and, in some cases, creating a divide in land that has been expensively reclaimed. Very few parcels of land would amount to an acre,” he said.

However, the council has reiterated that it will not offer more than €15,000 per acre, which it said was standard for such land.

Under a 99-year lease arrangement, landowners would receive €10,000 an acre.

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