FARMERS at a public meeting in Loughrea on Monday night have pledged to fight ‘tooth and nail’ any effort to take over land for the Greenway route by compulsory purchase order (CPO).
A crowd of about 150 people turned out at the meeting in the Lough Rea Hotel that was addressed by senior IFA officials both at local and national level, as well as by several politicians.
Galway IFA Chairman, Pat Murphy told the Farming Tribune that under no circumstances would farmers allow a situation to develop whereby their lands would be taken by CPO for the proposed walkway route.
“Farmers over the years have had their farms disrupted for work that falls under the critical infrastructure category but this is now a step too far.
“This involved ESB lines, gas pipeways and new roads but to destroy a commercial farm for a walkway is just something that farmers will not accept. This is not critical infrastructure and there are alternatives available,” said Pat Murphy.
He said that there would be absolutely no co-operation from farmers for this project until the word CPO was taken off the agenda.
“There is only one way that the Greenway project will work and that’s with the co-operation of all the landowners and local people. We believe that there should be no problem in mapping out a Greenway route that won’t involve dividing farms across the county,” said Pat Murphy.
If the Council try to ‘CPO’ lands along the route, several hundred farmers will be affected from Ballinasloe to Oranmore and through Aughrim, Cappataggle, Kilreekil, Loughrea, Craughwell, Clarinbridge and Oranmore.
Galway/Mayo IFA Regional Officer Roy O’Brien told the Farming Tribune that while the IFA would be seeking legal advice on the matter, the real power in the final analysis was with the public representatives.
“What was encouraging about Monday night’s meeting was that there was a clear consensus from politicians across all divides as regards the CPO process. It is just a complete ‘no-no’ in the context of this project and it will be met with outright opposition,” said Roy O’Brien.
He said that the Council had to start by talking to farmers and local people on the ground but once there was any mention of CPO use, any co-operation and goodwill would be completely eroded.
“It is quite simply, totally unacceptable that farmers could face into a situation where their lands could be dissected with this Greenway route. This would put some farmers out of business – an alternative route must be sourced, most probably along the side of the old N6 Galway to Dublin road,” said Roy O’Brien.