South Kerry Greenway: Agronomist appointed to deal with fallout

An agronomist has been appointed by Kerry County Council to deal with issues that have arisen between it and landowners over the South Kerry Greenway.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has been calling for the appointment for the last 12 months after a fallout between farmers and the local authority arose over compulsory purchase order (CPO) notices issued to landowners in respect of the greenway.

In a letter earlier this week, Kerry County Council confirmed the appointment of Diarmuid O’Sullivan of DOSAGRI Limited – agricultural and environmental consultants – to the position of agronomist “acting on the behalf of Kerry County Council”.

Meanwhile, the South Kerry Greenway proposal – from Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen – was first mooted in 2011.

At the time the local development partnership recognised that the Great Southern and Western Rail Company’s west Kerry branch abandoned railway line, with its outstanding views, rail structures and varying landscapes, “could provide an exceptional walking and cycling route, and deliver a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits”.

Jimmy Sheahan, Ken Jones, John O’Sullivan, Pat O’Driscoll and Morgan Lyne

South Kerry’s IFA chairman Pat O’Driscoll has welcome the latest developments in respect of the greenway.

He previously pointed out to AgriLand that the serving of CPOs on 130 farmers and landowners along the route had only served to allow a “negative and hurtful” element to creep into proceedings.

He also highlighted the hurt caused to the small number of farmers who Kerry County Council took legal proceedings against and how that scenario also contributed to “talks breaking down” between all sides.

‘Get involved’

Speaking to AgriLand this afternoon – Friday, July 19 – O’Driscoll pointed to the positive impact the appointment could foster.

The appointment of a consultant in this matter is a very welcomed development – this is something that IFA has been calling for, for some time now.

He continued: “This will provide a neutral face between Kerry County Council and the landowners who are involved in the greenway.

“The farmers will now be able to explain their case and I would encourage all the farmers and landowners that are involved to engage fully with this process.”

‘Annoyance and upset’

Earlier this month, Jimmy Sheahan – one of the farmers along the route who was issued with a CPO notice, and one of just four landowners that ended up in court after Kerry County Council issued legal proceedings against him, because he failed to allow council officials onto his land – said there was nothing but “annoyance and upset” along the greenway now.

I do not know now where we go from here and the farmers who got caught up in this are very hurt.

He added: “As well – the council gave the impression to the people all over the country, and indeed to everyone in Kerry, that we were the four people who were holding the whole South Kerry Greenway project up – that was very hurtful to me and has caused a lot of upset for all of us with our neighbours.

“You see in the 1880s – people in this area were evicted from their lands – it’s still a sore point around here, and the CPOs fed right into those feelings and caused all sorts of annoyance and upset.”