Seven route options are now the focus of a public consultation that will eventually feed into identifying a preferred route for the Galway-Oughterard greenway.
A four-week consultation period is now open and ongoing until July 15, allowing landowners, residents, members of the public, and other interested parties, to view and consider the shortlisted route options.
Galway County Council, in partnership with Galway City Council and in association with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) are working to develop a recreational trail that provides commuters and leisure cyclists with a corridor linking the city of Galway to the town of Oughterard. Once completed, the route will form part of the Connemara Greenway between Galway and Clifden.
Within the month-long consultation period, a three-day, in-person consultation is currently taking place in Galway, and finishes tomorrow (Thursday, June 23).
These nine-hour consultation events are facilitated by members of the greenway project team, who can discuss any queries or concerns regarding the project, they said.
The ‘route corridor options’ that are now being put forward for the public to consider are “indicative, not final, and are subject to change”, based on consultations, feedback, further investigations, and environmental considerations.
The options are presented as 200m-wide corridors but this distance does not represent the proposed width of the greenway, or the lands to be acquired for it, according to the project team. The corridors indicate the lands within which a greenway could be developed.
There are several stages to go through before planning is sought, granted, and before construction can commence, as indicated in the below graphic.
This greenway will form park of the 76km Connemara Greenway (from Galway city to Clifden), part of which also includes the development of a greenway from Oughterard to Clifden along a disused railway line.
Planning permission has already been granted for this section, which is just over 50km in distance, and is currently under development.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Séamus Walsh, from Oughterard, Co. Galway, told Agriland that learnings from this particular greenway process could be applied to the Galway-Oughterard greenway process.
“My experience, from the Oughterard to Clifden process, is that there is a lot of anxiety among householders and landowners,” he said.
He said such anxiety stems from issues to do with privacy, access to lands, being restricted from crossing land, and having water points cut off from livestock, among others.
“So there are farmers who want the route to change slightly so that it would go along the boundaries of land, and there are farmers who don’t want it at all. There is that type of situation and that comes, from my experience, from the Clifden to Oughterard piece.”
He said he would like to see landowners be brought on board sooner rather than later in terms of discussions around the eventual preferred route option and the land impacted, and for the concerns of landowners to be addressed in a more timely manner.
He said it is important that all landowners impacted by any greenway development are fully in favour of the final preferred route, and that they agree with the planning application that will be sought by the local authority.
It is Cllr Walsh’s contention that the final Oughterard to Clifden greenway route did not have unanimous support of the farmers and landowners impacted.
“Certain farmers felt aggrieved by that,” he said.
So now, farmers are “concerned that they won’t be listened to”.
He is advising farmers and landowners who are concerned to engage a solicitor who can oversee their legal interests.
And he is calling on the local authorities involved to be flexible and accommodating with the farmers and landowners who are impacted.