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Greenway will result in ‘huge opportunity’ for the county

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A “huge opportunity” to boost visitor numbers to Ennis with the plans for a Greenway from the county capital to West Clare has been highlighted by local councillors, with calls being made on landowners to get behind the proposal.
Ennis councillors Johnny Flynn, Ann Norton and Pat Daly alongside Councillor Alan O’Callaghan, at a meeting of Clare County Council, sought an update on the likely completion dates for sections of the previously commenced portion of the West Clare Greenway from Ennis to Lahinch. The councillors pointed out that there has been “significant increased Government funding announced for Greenways.”
Councillor Flynn outlined that the plans had been proposed back in 2006 as he sought clarification on the progression of the Greenway from Ennis outwards. Councillor Norton stated, “After this length of time why hasn’t our Greenway come about? We hear so much about what others in other counties have to offer.” She continued, “it would be fantastic if we had another amenity to draw people into the county, this would be a huge opportunity. Obviously we have budgets and there would be a lot of issues around CPOs but I would like to see some progress.”
She added that the Greenway would prove a major draw for visitors to base their stay in Ennis while exploring the rest of the county.
Seán Lenihan, senior engineer, told the meeting that the development of a Greenway along the entire route of the old West Clare Railway line from Ennis as far as Kilkee “has been a long standing objective of Clare County Council”.
He continued, “Once constructed, it will provide a world class, sustainable, fully accessible Greenway that will connect communities and other destinations along the proposed route. I wish to point out that the old railway line, while safeguarded, is the tentative route and as mentioned previously, it is acknowledged that much of the route is now in private ownership.
“We fully understand that we need to reach agreement with Landowners and are willing to consider alternative routes that may be suitable and less impactful or private properties, farming practices, etc. Key to the success of a project such as this will be extensive engagement, consultation and buy in from local landowners and communities and to this end, we would welcome any contributions or comments from interested parties or those that may be affected.”
He stated the council were were recently successful in acquiring €255,000 under the Department of Transport’s Carbon Tax Fund.
“This will now enable us to move forward with our ambitious plans by advancing the entire 85km project through the initial stages of scope, appraisal, concept and feasibility including options and constraints at a high level. It is intended then to bring a shorter 20km pilot section through to the Route Selection, Detailed Design and preparation for statutory consent stage initially while at the same time, sourcing the additional funding required for the main scheme to progress in parallel. The construction costs will be quite significant, with latest cost estimations based on national figures in the order of €600k per kilometre. There will also be a number of key environmental challenges to be managed and overcome.”
He concluded, “Precise programme dates are difficult given our external dependence on availability of funding, land acquisition agreements, timely statutory consents, etc. It would be our expectation, however, that by working in collaboration with private landowners, local communities, elected members and all interested or affected parties, of delivering the pilot phase by 2025 and the entire scheme by 2029. In the meantime, we will explore and consider all options that may deliver, what will be a wonderful piece of infrastructure for the county and the wider Midwest Region, in a shorter timeframe and we will keep the Members informed of developments in this regard.
Councillor O’Callaghan stated he was “very encouraged” by the council executive’s response. He recalled that landowers were “very co-operative” during the development of Lee’s Road. He pointed out that there is the potential for business growth along the route.
Councillor Pat Daly stated that Greenways “are the future” with villages in County Mayo “booming” as a result of their project. He continued, “We need landowners to support this.”

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