The High Court has today (Monday, July 12) dismissed the judicial reviews brought against the South Kerry Greenway.

The judicial review hearings took place in late June.

The High Court has decided to uphold An Bord Pleanála’s 2020 decision to approve planning permission for the controversial project, a near 30km greenway stretching from Cahersiveen to Glenbeigh.

The legal challenges had been brought by farmer James Clifford alongside environmentalist Peter Sweetman, and another brought by the Greenway Information Group. 

Delays are not unusual in what has been a lengthy, over 10-year saga for the South Kerry Greenway.

‘Some light at the end of the tunnel’

In January of this year, when the news emerged that requests for judicial reviews had been lodged and subsequently granted, there were mixed reactions and emotions.

The project was first proposed in 2011 and after failing to reach agreement with landowners, the local authority decided to acquire 115ac of land by compulsory purchase order (CPO). An Bord Pleanála confirmed the CPO with some modifications in November.

The greenway is proposed to mainly be constructed along the route of the Southern and Western Railway, which has not been in use for decades.

Fine Gael TD for Kerry Brendan Griffin has welcomed the court’s decision, saying in a post on social media that it is “some light at the end of the tunnel”, and an “important step” for “a project of national importance in my view”.

Sinn Féin TD Pa Daly said he hopes that work can commence “as soon as possible now that this decision has been made”.

“The greenway will provide huge potential for those businesses in south Kerry that will now benefit from the increased tourism and hospitality that will follow. This is badly  needed in light of the extended pandemic lockdown,” the deputy added.

South Kerry Greenway ‘the only hope’

A local councillor told Agriland earlier this year that the greenway is “the only hope” left for the area.

“This was a lifeline,” Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael Cahill, who has long supported the project, said.

“I know that land is valuable, and there’s this exceptionally close association with land here in this country, but there were a lot of people that had big plans and were prepared to invest and borrow and employ people.

“I was contacted by people who had emigrated and when permission was granted, they said they now had something to come home to. This is the scale of it.

“We’re not going to get a big industry down this neck of the woods, so this would have suited the region big-time and it would be all year-round.

“When we’re all dead and gone, this was going to serve generations to come.

“This was an opportunity to bring that life back and get rid of this dereliction – bring people back and keep them home.”