An IFA delegation led by Environment Chairman Paul O Brien met with senior executives in Cork and Waterford County Councils along with engineers from Atkins Consultants in Fermoy recently to discuss plans for the proposed Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway.
The proposed 74km long Greenway is set to connect Dungarvan in Waterford to Mallow in Cork and link to the towns and villages of Cappoquin, Lismore, Ballyduff, Clondulane, Fermoy, Ballyhooly and Killavullen. It is proposed it will generally follow the route of the old Dungarvan to Mallow railway line.
The IFA delegation also included North Cork IFA Chair Pat O Keeffe and Waterford IFA County Chair John Heffernan, as well as Tony Mullins North Cork Environment rep and John Joe Byrne Waterford IFA Environment rep.
Paul O Brien said the meeting was very useful as the IFA provided the project team with an in-depth outline of the fears and concerns of farmers regarding the proposed Greenway and how it could impact very significantly on farmers and their property and businesses. The project promoters provided the IFA with a full briefing on the project and an update on the current feasibility study taking place.
The project team explained that they are currently undertaking a concept and feasibility analysis and expect to have a final report by Q1 2023. They said there will be a second consultation stage in Nov/Dec 2022 with another opportunity for the public including affected farmers to make a submission on the project. After this, the final report is expected to be published in early 2023 and will include an emerging preferred route and full costs analysis.
The IFA team highlighted the real concerns of farmers along the route especially around property, considering the fact that most of the old railway line is no longer in public ownership and has been re-purchased by farmers over the years.
“Many farmers now own and use the railway line as part of their farm with many developments around private houses and farmyards. This makes this project much more complex compared to using a railway line or other land that is in public ownership.”
The IFA delegation said it’s opposed to any severance of farms or compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for amenity projects like Greenways. Paul O Brien said the IFA has negotiated a Code of Best Practice for Greenways with the Government and both of these issues are well flagged in the code. He said severance has to be avoided where at all possible and Voluntary Land Purchase agreements have to take precedent over CPOs.
The project promoters confirmed to the IFA that they will be implementing the Code of Best Practice in terms of developing the Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway.
IFA also raised a number of other important issues and concerns for farmers including the loss of privacy with Greenways; crossings; litter; animal disease and wildlife implications around developments; accommodation works; and the appointment of an independent agronomist that would be available to farmers as soon as possible.
Paul O Brien said full and proper consultation with farmers is critical to develop any infrastructural project and he cautioned the project promoters not to make the same mistake as some other county councils on Greenway projects, where they had lost the confidence of the farmer landowners.