CONSULTATION with landowners will be central in the development of the West Clare Greenway, a senior council official had pledged. Leonard Cleary made his remarks in response to a request from Councillor Susan Crawford for an update on the long-awaited trail which will run through Ennis, Corofin, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Miltown Malbay, Quilty, Doonbeg, Moyasta, Kilrush and Kilkee. At the January meeting of the municipal district, Mr Cleary said that landowners and the farming community would be consulted at every stage.
In response to the motion from Councillor Crawford, Seán Lenihan, Senior Engineer with the council’s Project Management Office (PMO) said that technical advisors for the Planning and Consent Phase and Detailed Design Phase for a 20km section between Kilrush and Kilkee will be appointed by March.
“Following the council’s commissioning of a positive Feasibility Study, we were fortunate to secure €255,000 from the Department of Transport’s Carbon Tax Fund to progress the proposal through the various stages required,” Mr Lenihan’s reponse said. “Once the technical advisors are appointed, we will begin work on the Planning and Consent phase of development namely Route Selection, Appropriate Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment. Consultation with affected landowners and community groups will take place throughout the process.”
Welcoming the update, Councillor Crawford said: “This West Clare Greenway is so integral to what all of us believe will make a difference to West and North Clare and it’s important that we really are up to speed with what’s happening.”
Councillor Ian Lynch seconded the motion saying, “This project has been very sensitive from the start, as regards access rights of way and that sort of stuff, so it’s important that we all move forward with the same message.”
Councillor Shane Talty said his only concern was that the PMO had enough resources for all of the work it does. “The PMO is probably one of the key functions within this local authority, now delivering strategic infrastructure in all sides of the county and I just hope that there is enough resources in that unit to give this the attention and the work that it needs.,” he said. “It’s a sensitive landscape. There’s sensitivity around land ownership and we see all of the different reports that are needed at every step of the way.”
Director of Services for the West Clare Municipal District Leonard Cleary said he had had a discussion with Mr Lenihan about the project and that there was a will to progress it as soon as possible. “By the next municipal district meeting, Seán will have appointed the consultants and it might be appropriate to invite him to come to the meeting for a short presentation as well as an update and on the Blake’s Corner project,” Mr Cleary said. “He has put huge energy into the greenway project and we’re at a sensitive stage now in terms of consulting with landowners. The council is committed to consulting with landowners and the IFA to make sure we work with the farming community as custodians of the land. Stakeholders will be centre-stage, as will the local community. This is a very important strategic project.”
Councillor Cillian Murphy said that if you went to Westport there were many lessons Clare County Council could learn from the Great Western Greenway. “One of the things they said they would do differently was to connect to the centre of Westport town,” he said. “We need to make sure the greenway doesn’t just connect from A to B, but from the centre of A to the centre of B, as well as connecting to a wider set of trails and pathways. In Mayo, the greenway goes right through the centre of Mulranny, that’s why it’s working for them.
The West Clare greenway, which will run to between 85km and 110km, will follow the route of the West Clare Railway and is an objective of the current County Development Plan.