IFA Environment Committee Chairman Thomas Cooney has called on the Department of Transport to make funding to local authorities for greenways to be contingent on the development of a Code of Practice for engaging with landowners.
In a detailed submission to the Department of Transport, he described the level of engagement with landowners by local authorities on greenway developments to-date as haphazard and in some instances nonexistent. “This has culminated in some local authorities such as Kerry and Clare taking an adversarial approach and threatening the use of CPO for the development of such recreational routes.”
Thomas Cooney added, “Recreational routes such as Greenways and Blueways have an important role to play in promoting agri-tourism and economic activity in rural areas. This has been seen most recently in towns such as Dungarvan and Kilmacthomas, which have benefited from the success of the Waterford Greenway project.
However, these Greenways will also have a significant impact on farming activity and rural communities. Such routes should firstly be confined to state-owned lands. Only then should they be developed by agreement on private lands, along farm boundaries and through a combination of off- and on-public roads, similar to the development of recreational routes in other countries”.
The naming of recreational routes such as “Greenways” should be reconsidered, as they almost imply an entitlement to go off route and fragment farm holding in pursuit of the development of recreational routes, he said.
In the submission to the Department, IFA has set out a number of key principles to be included in any national greenways development plan.
Specifically on land access, IFA is looking to the new Department of Community & Regional Affairs to lead discussions and build on the model already developed with Comhairle na Tuaithe for the Rural Walks Scheme.