Farmers’ group opposes Ring of Kerry greenway plans

Posted on: May 14th, 2018

Kerry greenway

The Kerry greenway would be over 30km and take cyclists – and walkers – through stunning countryside. But farmers who own the land are not happy.


By Graham Gillespie

The Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has raised concerns over the proposed Ring of Kerry greenway.

The mooted route would take in 32 kilometres of south Kerry; most of it on a disused rail line that will be perfect for cycling.

It starts at Renard Point near Cahirciveen, which is where Valentia Island ferry departs.

The greenway would then continue all the way to Glenbeigh, following the former Great Southern & Western railway that closed in 1960.

In fact, the greenway will retain some of the rail-related features from that line.

The route will have a three metre wide paved surface. Fencing will surround the cycle path in an attempt to satisfy locals.

There will also be cafés, toilets and car parks along the route as it grows in popularity.

Kerry County Council has now entered the pre-application consultation stage with Bord Pleanála. They would then need to submit an environmental impact assessment which it hopes to do in June.

However, over 170 landowners have failed to reach an agreement with the council. As a result, the council now looks set to to acquire this land through the use of compulsory purchase orders (CPO).

This move has antagonised local farmers. In response, the ICSA has said CPOs should not be used in the process.

The ICSA’s rural development chairman, Seamus Sherlock, said: “CPOs are viewed as heavy-handed in the extreme and fill landowners with absolute fear and confusion.

“Many feel they are being forced into a David versus Goliath position. And they have to deal with all the stress and anxiety that goes with that,” he continued.

ICSA spokesman Adrian Kelly believes the plan has ignored the farming community’s wishes.

“Many farmers will have their fields split down the middle under the current plans. And the council doesn’t seem interested in alternative routes that have been offered,” he said.

Kelly added the Kerry greenway is a “fantastic idea”. However, he also pointed out that “farmers just don’t want to jeopardise their livelihoods for the greenway”.

Kelly was previously quoted in the Independent saying, “farmers in Kerry are essentially being used as guinea pigs in this wholly defective” project.

“Time is of the essence now and I am calling on Minister Ross to desist from dragging landowners to court until a proper assessment of the consultation findings can be completed,” Kelly added.

In that Independent article, the current consultation process for greenways was described as flawed by Seamus Sherlock. And he also criticised Shane Ross’ handling of the situation.

“It is laughable that Minister Ross could acknowledge that the process used was flawed,” he said.

“Yet he would still choose to continue with that flawed process on these projects, with only a vague ambition to correct the process for future greenways.”

Kerry County Council has received €4 million from the Government for the greenway.

However, Minister Ross said last year that the plan had run into problems relating to cost, planning and indeed local disputes with landowners.

According to a local council spokesman, the need for CPOs means it’s unclear what the project would cost. The expected completion date of the greenway is also difficult to estimate due to the CPO issue.