Tourism head outlines next steps on Clew Bay Greenway project

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The head of Tourism, Recreation and Amenity for Mayo County Council, Padraig Phiblin, has outlined the council's plans for getting the Clew Bay Greenway project back up and running.

Speaking at the May meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District which took place on Monday, Mr Philbin told the meeting: "In relation to the Clew Bay Greenway, the first thing I want to do is acknowledge the desire that is out there amongst the communities along the route for the route to be developed.

"There is huge latent demand for greenways right across the county, but in particular in this area it has been on the cards for some time and we've had a number of successes in relation to funding and there has also been a number of setbacks, particularly in relation to Covid-19 and the delays that has caused us.

"The other things I want to do in relation to the Clew Bay Greenway - in case anyone fears we think anything different is - (express ) the desire of the council and the councillors in this district, to develop this iconic greenway, that when connected to the Great Western Greenway will give a 100km greenway surrounding Clew Bay, with associations with Gráinne Mhaol.

"It is a priority for us - it is a project that we have funding for elements of and also we are very keen to see it develop; not all sections are funded, but we have funding for areas of it.

"The other positive - is that it is one of two greenways in Mayo that have been classified as a national regional greenway, that means that it enjoys, national government funding - particularly from the National Greenway Fund, which bodes well for the future, with the extensions of the greenway west of Lecanvey to Roonagh and also the sections in Achill from the Sound (Achill Sound ) to Cloughmore and the extension into Keel and beyond.

"Another thing I would like to say, in Mayo we have enjoyed huge landowner buy-in, community buy-in, in relation to greenways and to a certain extent we have led the way in this area, using this permissive access model, so we have bought into it, communities have bought into it and really, it is a two way street; we really do need the support of communities and in particular the land owners and we do tend to work with landowners and have always done this to a particular route.

"We've worked with them in the sense, sometimes people can facilitate us and other times they can't and we draw that route according to the lines that become available and that is the approach we have when it comes to the Clew Bay Greenway going forward.

"At the moment, we are on the ground in relation to the funded sections of work particularly in relation to Achill in the section continuing in the section from the Sound to Bunacurry, some work has started and more this week and also in relation to the section from Belcare to Murrisk and on to Bertra.

"The route in its entirety on the south side of Clew Bay, that is the Louisburgh section, is taking the route to Louisburgh from Westport town of 22km and onwards to Roonagh, which is 30km, so it's not in any way a small project and when you add the Achill sections in, it is quite a substantial project.

"What we are looking at doing in the next couple of months, particularly West of Lecanvey, is to identify a route and that will involve us talking to landowners and communities and I am proposing that after this meeting, we meet with ourselves; obviously there are a number of route options we can pick and some of them have pros and cons and we might go through that between ourselves and that is nothing new, it is an approach we have used in the past successfully on other greenway schemes.

"A lot of this is feet on the ground and talking to people and we are proposing in the next three months to identify the different lines (routes ) and to talk to the landowners concerned and we are aiming to bring this to a planning phase.

"Ideally the planning process we want to use is the part eight process and that will follow or either happen simultaneously with the talks with the land owners or it will follow immediately afterwards. Obviously we have the work to do that we have already been funded for and we are mindful we have to do that and ensure that is completed as well with this.

"I don't want to draw back on any commitment the office has here (tourism section ) or the council has as a whole to the route and to see that route delivered; it is so connected with Clew Bay and Grainne Mhaol and will bring its own attraction and interest nationally."


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