THERE has been a welcome boost for a long-cherished plan to create a greenway along the route of the old West Clare Railway, linking Ennis to the towns of Kilrush and Kilkee.
This week, Minister for Climate Change, Communications Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan announced funding €255,000 for the project. The allocation will enable the start of an active consultation phase involving landowners along the route, with a view to creating another world-class visitor attraction in Clare.
The funding, which was allocated under the Carbon Tax Fund 2020, represents a total allocation of €4.5m to 26 greenways and provides support for feasibility, planning and design.
The allocation to the West Clare Railway Greenway Project will progress the proposed amenity past concept and feasibility stage and allow Clare County Council to start actively engaging with landowners on route selection and preparation of the statutory consent phase of development – namely planning permission, environmental impact assessment and preliminary design.
It is envisaged that the West Clare Railway Greenway will follow the 85km route of the old West Clare railway line, where feasible. A statement from the council said that the greenway may need to be diverted from this route and that the authority would work with local landowners to ensure that a route is selected which has the least impact on farming communities.
The council said it is committed to developing a Greenway which will potentially be a world-class tourism attraction in West Clare, providing economic, social, health and environmental benefits for people living in Clare and those who are visiting.
“The West Clare Railway Greenway has been a long-standing objective of the County Development Plan and this funding allocation is greatly welcomed in order to positively progress the project for the benefit of everyone living in and visiting the county,” said Mayor of Clare, Councillor Mary Howard.
Carmel Kirby, Director of Physical Development, Clare County Council, has welcomed the announcement: “We are delighted that our application for funding has been successful. The West Clare Railway Greenway has the potential to be a game changer for County Clare. The Greenway will enable communities from Ennis to Kilrush/Kilkee to be connected while also enhancing our tourism offering. More and more people are getting back on their bikes to explore the beautiful surroundings of County Clare and this Greenway will provide a recreational facility for everyone to enjoy.”
Councillor Ian Lynch, a long-time advocate for the greenway, has described the allocation of funds for the project as a significant development in moving the route forward.
“The allocation of this funding in the recognition of the routes potential,” he said “and while I am delighted to see the allocation there is a significant body of work to be undertaken to see the project come to fruition but this funding now provides an opportunity to explore options of making the route a reality.”
Councillor Lynch added that significant work has already been undertaken behind the scenes by Clare County Council’s PMO office said great credit is due on securing this funding. The Kilrush native acknowledged that continued consultation and liaison with interested parties will be critical to the greenway’s success.