The development of the Dublin to Galway Greenway has been “paused”, according to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
Deputy Donohue said the project has come to a halt “to allow time for all involved to reflect on the issues that have been raised locally about the project”.
The existing Greenway between Dublin and Athlone follows the path of the Royal Canal as far as Mullingar and moves on to Athlone via a disused rail track. It was planned to extend the Greenway to Ballinasloe, Loughrea and on to Galway city via private farmland, and it is this that has caused problems.
A little more than one quarter of the 194 landowners between Galway and Ballinasloe who were to be affected by the route are concerned about the impact the route might have on their daily farming practices. Chief among their concerns are things like increased insurance premiums, loss of land, and disruption to their daily operations.
Local councillors do not believe the situation will have a negative impact on the Greenway as a product, or on it being extended as far as Athlone. Councillor Kevin “Boxer’ Moran said: “I don’t think is going to have too much of an effect on the product coming to Athlone. We are in the planning stages of that and we have been led to believe that the funding is there to bring it to Athlone.
“There are a lot of people asking whether this has been planned right. The big issue I have is that there are consultants employed and a lot of planning is supposed to have gone into this, so why is this happening now is the question. It is easy for some to blame the farmers, but I don’t blame them at all. Consultations with landowners should have been done at a very early stage.
“If we get the Greenway to Athlone I do believe it will have a good effect on business in the area. We have everything in Athlone to capitalise on it. We need to get this back on track. I do not like hearing about the project being shelved. I have seen so many projects shelved over the years never to be rekindled.”
Fine Gael Councillor John Dolan said: “I am not sure how much of an impact it will have for the product as a whole, and on Athlone. I would imagine it will have a small impact. We were told from day one to make it a viable tourist attraction you would have to have a good distance in it. It has been postponed for now but I would not rule out the project being completed.
“I think there are a few issues that need to be addressed with the landowners in Galway, and I think that can be done. I don’t think it will prevent us getting the cycleway across the Shannon and bringing it to the town, and I am all for that.”