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IFA leader calls for conciliatory approach to determining route for cycle/walkway

A more flexible and practical approach to the proposed Galway to Athlone greenway should be adopted – rather than “bombarding” it through agricultural lands and against farmers’ wishes.

That’s according to one leading IFA official who suggested that Galway County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) look at the possibility of providing sections of the greenway alongside rural roads that connect local towns and villages.

Galway IFA Rural Development Representative Peter Gohery told The Connacht Tribune that a greenway going through farmland in East Galway is not going to be utilised over the winter months but if it was built alongside existing roads, then it could be used by local residents all year round.

According to Mr Gohery, a greenway running through agricultural lands is not the most attractive prospect for tourist cyclists when a more practical option of providing one that would by locals would be a better option.

“Grand if people like to look at cattle grazing but it will be nothing like the Waterford greenway or one that is being talked about for Connemara where the scenery is spectacular,” he said.

“That is why we are advocating that a greenway along some of the county’s beautiful rural roads, where there is ample room for a greenway by removing ditches or shrubbery, would suit everyone – but unfortunately the officials are not listening to us,” Mr Gohery added.

The proposed route corridor commences at Ballyloughane Beach in the city and takes in Oranmore, Rinville, Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan, Kinvara, Coole Park, Gort, Woodford, Portumna, Meelick, Clonfert, Shannonbridge and eventually Athlone.

A project manager told a recent local authority meeting that it was hoped that much of the route would take in State-owned lands such as Bord Na Móna tracks, Coillte forest roads and ESB property.

A major consultation process is currently taking place with landowners but it is known that at least 30 farmers in the Loughrea area alone are opposed to the route coming through their properties – and it’s not even an issue regarding compensation.

However, according to the IFA representative, the so-called hybrid suggestion is not finding favour with Galway County Council officials who are involved in the negotiations, and he is confused by this attitude.

“Don’t get me wrong, there are landowners who are more than willing to let the greenway through their farms and that is all very well. That is a matter between both parties to come to an agreement regarding the route and the compensation.

“But for those who are not willing to allow their farms to be divided, then the Council should look at another option like providing sections of the greenway along rural roads where there is ample room for both to be accommodated.

“Bombarding this greenway through farmers’ lands and using the compulsory purchase orders to achieve this will be resisted at all costs. Those behind this project need to adopt an open mind approach to this,” Peter Gohery said.


For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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