Compulsory order for cycle route

Lands needed to complete a €4m greenway cycle route high over the Ring of Kerry are to be acquired by compulsory purchase order because grant funding will run out if the project is not completed by December 2016, councillors have been told.

The order by Kerry County Council will force a small number of the 116 land- owners along the old Glenbeigh to Kells road to sell back gardens and other land parcels in a move described by the council as necessary, because it is under financial as well as time pressure on the project. The old railway line is now owned privately having been handed over to adjoining landowners when it closed in 1960.

At proposal stage for some time, the 26km project was announced before the last local elections amid great fanfare by then Public Transport Minister Alan Kelly — before agreement was reached with all of the landowners involved. The route will not only use the spectacular Kells viaduct, but will also run through farms and back yards.

Since that announcement before the local elections, Kerry County Council, which took over the idea originated by the South Kerry Development Partnership, has held “a series of meetings” and has hammered out agreements with more than 100 of the 116 landowners involved.

Ten landowners, however, said they will not sign up.

“Many landowners have been met on multiple occasions,” the report said. “As agreed, a second series of group meetings with the landowners has now been completed.”

While it was possible to agree alternative routes with some of the landowners, there were a number of locations along the old line where changing the route was simply not possible.

Amid strong objection on compulsory purchases, particularly by the Independent councillor Johnny Healy-Rae, county manager Moira Murrell allowed a last set of approaches be made to the objecting landowners.

However, if there was little prospect of agreement the CPO would progress in January, councillors were told.

Council management has rejected calls to raise the land purchase price from €15,000 an acre for outright purchase. In most cases, far less than an acre is involved.

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