There was positive news at todays Tralee municipal district meeting council meeting following questions raised by a number of councilors. Kerry Council council confirmed that they have now completed the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) screening reports for the greenway, these reports were required in order to determine the planning with is required for the project.
EIA Screening is carried out in order to determine if an Environmental Impact Assessment is required while the AA Screening determines the potential effects, if any, of the proposed project on sites with European conservation designations, i.e. Natura 2000 sites located nearby.
The findings of these reports is positive recommending that the remainder of the project can proceed under a Part 8 planning process (similar to the previous phases of the project) rather than requiring a more laborious and expensive application to An Bord Pleanala or a full Environment Impact Statement (EIS) which has caused delays in the delivery of the South Kerry Greenway.
Kerry Council Council also confirmed that work will now commence on preparing this application and reopening of dialogue with landowners and residents whose land adjoins the former railway, this is expected to be complete by July.
As per the part 8 planning process the council will then publish their proposals for the remainder of the line and the public will have an opportunity to make observations, all going well the results of the process should be known by late September or October.
If the project receives planning approval it will be in an ideal position to contend for national greenway funding which is due to open at the end of the year.
John Brassil TD raised the lack of progress on the Tralee Fenit Greenways and in Kerry in general with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil during the week.
On page 45 of the programme for Government there is a commitment to providing significant funding towards developing a national greenway network. In my county of Kerry, there is a disused railway line from Tralee to Fenit. There has been a walkway proposed for it for a number of years but there has been no progress whatsoever this year or last year. The south Kerry greenway from Glenbeigh down to Renard was announced amid great fanfare in 2014. Again there has been very little progress.
When will we see delivery of this commitment in County Kerry and across Ireland?
The Taoiseach asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to reply.
Photo – John Brassil at the launch of phase two of the greenway in June 2014
The Tralee to Fenit Greenway was mentioned in the Dáil yet again recently this time during a debate on the finance bill.
Minister Brendan Griffin was waxing lyrically about the benefits of Greenways while welcoming the extra €50 million allocated for greenway development in the budget, lets hope we see some of that funding down here next year !
I am glad that an extra €50 million has been allocated to greenway development, which has sustainability written all over it. There is huge potential for additional greenways. Research shows that every euro spent on greenways has a massive return in terms of economic activity. An example of that is the greenway from Westport to Achill. I was on the route from Newport to Mulranny in 2010 and it was a short, quiet greenway. I went back in 2013 and when I was sitting in a hotel in Achill waiting for a taxi to bring me back to Westport after completing the greenway I wrote a blog entitled “Why greenways should be called goldways”. Activity on the route included taxi hire, cafés, bicycle hire and many other little shops doing very well out of it. There is great potential to do even more in that regard. Members know of the Dungarvan greenway, which is going very well, and there is much more potential in terms of canal banks, old railway lines and various other assets. In terms of old railway lines, I am particularly familiar with the south Kerry line from Farranfore to Valentia Harbour and lines from Tralee to Fenit and Kilmorna to Listowel. Not only are those assets available but we have an obligation to those gone before us who built those fantastic feats of engineering by hand to make the most of those resources. Not to do so would be a terrible waste. Those fantastic feats of engineering were put in place in the late 1800s when there was little machinery to assist in their construction. We have an opportunity to make the most of them for this generation and for future generations and need to grasp that opportunity. I am, therefore, glad that €50 million has been allocated for drawdown in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and will be working on that within my Department.
An online petition with over 1000 signatures in support of the Tralee to Fenit Greenway was presented to Kerry County Council last week, this petition follows the previous petition with approximately 1000 signatures which was submitted to Tralee Town Council in 2012.
Mr. Stephenson (Fenit) who presented the petition told the Kerry’s Eye
“It’s going on far to long, we have had 20 years of excuses”
The report goes on to quote Moira Murrell CEO of KCC saying “she is hopeful that there will be funding in the near future. It is now with the Department of Tourism”
While this maybe suggest that a funding bid has been made to the department this is not the case and the indications from the department are that in order to be successful in a funding bid planning would need to be in place.
How can Kerry Co Co keep saying this project is a priority and then continuously fail to allocate any funding ?
The examinations are necessary for screening reports, which form part of the planning process for the Tralee Fenit Greenway.
These reports will determine if Environmental Impact and Natura Impact assessments are needed, and whether the planning application will have to go to An Bord Pleanala.
The council’s ecologists have to walk the rail line and undertake preliminary assessments for the screening reports, and once they’re done the scope of the planning process and resources needed will become clear.
The local authority says it’s hoped these walks will completed by the end of June.
The council says significant work has been done in the past 12 months on securing the legal agreement with CIE on the transfer of the land on the rail line, and it’s their objective is to progress the scheme this year.
An online petition has been set up to call on Kerry County Council to make the Tralee to Fenit Greenway a priority, please sign and share.
Cyclists are being killed on a weekly basis in Ireland as our roads are not safe. The Tralee‐Fenit Greenway should be a big priority for the Kerry County Council so families, kids, adults, locals and visitors can enjoy a safe place to walk and cycle.