The IFA has highlighted the very serious objections and concerns of farmers over the proposed Sligo, Leitrim, Northern Counties, Railway Greenway at a recent meeting with representatives of Leitrim and Sligo County Councils as well as the Project consultants ARUP.
In a joint statement, the Chair of Sligo IFA Michael O’ Dowd, IFA Leitrim County Chair Liam Gilligan Cavan IFA Environment rep Seamus Dolan said IFA made it very clear that Greenway projects must maximise the use of public lands and minimise the impact of private lands, in line with the Government Strategy for the Future Development of Greenways and the Greenways Code of Best Practice. This is clearly not the case with the proposed Sligo/Leitrim Greenway as the vast majority of the lands on the proposed routes are in private farmer ownership.”
The IFA said “this is unacceptable and extremely challenging for the landowners. The IFA is requesting a re-assessment of the proposals with the objective of using State owned or State-controlled lands for the Greenway project”.
The IFA Sligo and Leitrim County Chairs made it very clear to the project promoters that IFA is opposed to any severance of farms or compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for amenity projects like Greenways.
Sligo IFA Chair Michael O’Dowd said “The IFA pointed out to Leitrim County Council that the proposed routes for the Sligo/Leitrim Greenway will predominantly take private lands and have the potential to sever and divide a large number of the farms and this is totally unacceptable. Severance and division of farms will not work and must be reviewed by the Councils”.
Leitrim IFA Chair Liam Gilligan one of the key proposals on the Greenway from the Councils is to follow the old railway route. However, in practice farmers now farm and use most of the land where the abandoned railway line was. This is now part of their farm and may include houses and farmyards. Many farmers actually own the land where the railway line was.
Liam Gilligan said “the old abandoned railway line is long gone and this land is now active farmland, with some in private ownership, making it totally unsuitable for a Greenway.”
The IFA farm leaders also raise a number of additional serious farmer concerns including privacy, safety and security, anti-social behaviour, litter, animal disease and wildlife, and environmental and other issues at the meeting with the Councils.
Representatives from Leitrim County Council updated the IFA on the project and explained that the second public consultation is currently open until next Friday.
Farmers and landowners are encouraged to outline their views, objections and concerns about the Greenway in a submission with details on the web site https://slncr-greenway.com/
Michael O’ Dowd and Liam Gilligan said the meeting provided a good opportunity for the IFA to outline the serious concerns of farmers and also provided the project team with an in-depth understanding 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 IFA team said it was agreed that the Councils would continue to engage with the IFA on the project. Liam Gilligan said “full and proper consultation with farmers is critical and an invitation was extended to Sligo and Leitrim County Councils to attend future IFA public meetings on the project”.