Kerry farmers protest over ‘rigid approach’ to greenway project

Opposition against the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to secure lands for the South Kerry Greenway project rang loud and clear at a farmer protest outside Kerry County Council (KCC) offices today.

The large group of farmers that attended the rally – which took place outside the local authority headquarters in Tralee – also called for greater participation in “genuine dialogue” with the farming community on the stirring issue.

Thomas Cooney, chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) National Environment Committee, once again appealed to KCC to “stand down” on plans to implement CPOs in order to fast track the project.

We have requested for an agronomist to be appointed – something which the greenway strategy endorses.

“This, and other initiatives, would be helpful in building a level of cooperation that has been at the heart of successful greenway projects elsewhere.

Addressing the protest, Richard Kennedy, the IFA’s deputy president, said the “heavy-handed approach” of KCC “flies in the face of the strategy”.

‘Rigid Approach’

Kennedy contends that KCC has “bypassed” the spirit of the National Greenways Strategy – launched last Friday (July 20) – in its pursuit of the proposed South Kerry Greenway.

KCC has adopted a very rigid approach that has served to alienate farmers and it appears unwilling to take on board some constructive suggestions put forward by Kerry IFA.

The IFA representatives stressed that the body has always recognises the value of greenways for rural tourism and continues to be willing to engage in a “proactive manner” to achieve an outcome that “recognises the role of everybody”.

Pat O’Driscoll, chairman of the IFA’s Kerry branch said: “The IFA is always open to constructive discussions and would happily participate in any forum that gives farmers a genuine hearing,” he said.

However, he added that a strategy will have to be designed that addressed the concerns of farmers; while also achieving progress.