Greenways will not work if threatening compulsory land acquisitions is the strategy used, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Environmental chairman Thomas Cooney.

They must be co-designed with landowners and developed with permissive access and voluntary agreements.

Cooney has called on Kerry County Council and Transport Minister Shane Ross to halt plans to force through a recreational greenway in south Kerry by compulsorily taking farmers’ lands.

Speaking at the launch of the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways in Moate, Co. Westmeath, Cooney said: “Recreational walk and cycle ways, such as greenways, have an important role to play in supporting the development of the rural economy and tourism.

“The greenways strategy document places a clear emphasis on local authorities working with communities to deliver recreational routes such as greenways.

This has not happened in Kerry, Galway or other parts of the country and change must happen.

Cooney pressed for local authorities to take the threat of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) off the table.

He said: “Local authorities must foster a co-design approach to greenways development. This means working with landowners, based on permissive access and voluntary agreements.”

He concluded: “For greenways to happen, a robust code of practice must be in place. Professional agronomists should be appointed to proposed greenways and the integrity of farm holdings must be safeguarded.”