A “climate of distrust” has taken hold between Kerry County Council and landowners in the county over the issue of the South Kerry Greenway.

That’s according to the Connemara Greenway Action Group, which has previously raised opposition to a similar project in Co. Galway.

An oral hearing into landowner concerns has been taking place over the last number of weeks. It is currently adjourned, and is set to resume on November 12 for two weeks of further deliberation.

The landowners, most of whom are understood to be farmers, are angered over an apparent “lack of consultation” on the part of Kerry County Council, as well as “an unwillingness to seriously consider alternatives” to the greenway route, and how the council uses compulsory purchase orders (CPOs).

Connemara Greenway Action Group, which is observing the proceedings in Co. Kerry, claimed that the use of CPOs to acquire land for the project “seems to be driven by financial greed for tourism, by people who have little knowledge of farming and have neither political or personal financial responsibility for the outcome”.

There is also disquiet from farmers and landowners over the timing of the consultation process, with some submissions to the oral hearing suggesting that this process was not conducted early enough.

“Failte Ireland and interested parties need to stand up to the podium here. The greenway idea is stated as being a community-led tourism product, delivered from the ground up. But this project is being driven in a top-down strategy and, as it stands, this process will never deliver a tourism or cycling product,” the group argued in a statement.

It will be plagued with controversy for years and years.

“The farming community is not against a greenway or cycleway. They are against severance that causes sub-division [of land/farms] for recreational and amenity use, and only wish to be seen as stakeholders in a process to deliver such routes using external boundaries and local knowledge to plan and deliver such routes,” the group added.

The South Kerry Greenway is a planned route of 32km from Glenbeigh and Reenard on the Iveragh Peninsula. The current proposed route runs parallel to the Ring of Kerry.