A High Court judge has granted a limited stay on some works for a 27km cycle and pedestrian greenway in south Kerry.
The stay was granted by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys this week to allow objectors 21 days to consider whether to seek an appeal to the Supreme Court. The stay permits some surveying works but restrains construction works.
The judge last July dismissed two challenges to planning approval for the greenway.
Last week, he refused to grant the necessary certificate for leave to appeal his refusal to the Court of Appeal but deferred a decision whether to discharge or continue a stay on the greenway works.
This week, he granted a more limited stay which prevents construction and certain other works for 21 days to allow the objectors consider whether to seek a “leapfrog” appeal to the Supreme Court. Such an appeal may only be brought if the Supreme Court determines it raises legal issues of general public importance and an appeal is necessary in the interests of justice.
One of the challenges is by a local farmer, James Clifford and environmental activist Peter Sweetman. The second is by some local landowners whose lands have been compulsorily acquired for the greenway.
The cases are against An Bord Pleanála and various State parties, with Kerry County Council a notice party. The board and council both opposed leave to appeal the court’s July judgment which found the greenway permission is valid.
The judge will hear a further module in the case in November to address claims Ireland has not correctly transposed the type of road projects that require environmental impact screening and assessment under EU law.
He will also consider claims the board breached public information requirements of the Roads Act regarding inadequate publication, on its website and in local newspapers, of material and of its decision. Whatever the outcome of that module, it will not impact on the validity of the permission decision, he has stressed.
Kerry County Council had sought permission for a 31.9km greenway between Glenbeigh and Renard.
Last November, the board granted permission for a 27km greenway between Glenbeigh to just outside Cahersiveen, to run mainly along the disused route of the Southern and Western Railway. It will include a three metre-wide paved surface and 122 different types of intersection with other routes.
The permission is subject to several conditions, including an ecological pre-construction survey to check for protected species, including the Kerry slug and lesser horseshoe bat, and for those to be relocated to a similar habitat, subject to a derogation licence where required.