‘Greenways in need of more joined-up thinking’

A leading greenway promoter has called for more joined-up thinking as plans progress for several such walking and cycling trails around the country.

‘Greenways in need of more joined-up thinking’

Liam O’Mahony, chairman of the Great Southern Trail, which runs along a disused railway line from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, to the Kerry/Limerick border, said taxpayer money should be “used wisely” in such developments.

According to Kerry County Council, a lack of funding could delay the completion of the Great Southern Trail on a disused rail line from the Limerick border to Listowel and Tralee.

Around €300,000 has been spent on completing the section from Abbeyfeale to the Kerry border, but a number of farmers are claiming squatter’s rights on a proposed 10km stretch to Listowel. CIÉ has stated it owns the land, which it is prepared to transfer to the council.

Mr O’Mahony yesterday claimed the landowners’ “bluff” had been called and they had failed to challenge CIÉ’s ownership.

“I can’t see any reason for this interminable delay in the transfer of ownership to the council and am calling on the council to act on this. North Kerry is losing out due to the delay,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, the council was proceeding with plans to compulsorily acquire land from private owners for a €4m greenway in south Kerry, to run along a disused rail line from Glenbeigh to Renard.

A number of landowners on this route are refusing to sell to the council, which is adamant compulsory purchase orders will proceed.

Mr O’Mahony said: “I can’t understand why the same urgency isn’t being applied by the council to obtaining State-owned land for a similar project across north Kerry.”

He said if structural and land acquisition difficulties were now arising, it meant the route had not been “scoped” properly. “All that should have been done before the impression was given the job was ready to roll and money provided.”

Meanwhile, at this week’s county council meeting, Cllr Michael Gleeson asked if discussions had started with property owners along the disused rail line from Killorglin to Farranfore for development as a greenway.

Management said that section would be seen as a natural extension to other proposed greenways in Kerry, but priority is being given to projects for which funding was available.

A spokesman said “considerable resources” were being dedicated to the Glenbeigh/Renard project for which planning is being sought from An Bord Pleanála.

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