The Chairman of Kerry IFA Pat O’Driscoll said IFA will be reflecting on the decision of An Bord Pleanala and analysing the implications for farmers/landowners in Kerry and across the country.
IFA is committed to working with all agencies to develop a Voluntary Land Acquisition Agreement strategy for amenity projects like Greenways. This would avoid the use of CPOs.
It would also deliver on the requirement in the National Greenways Strategy that local authorities must adopt ‘a consultative and proactive manner with potentially affected landowners, that is sensitive to their needs, that maximises their support for, and goodwill towards, the proposed Greenway’. Regrettably, Pat O’Driscoll said this did not happen in respect of the South Kerry Greenway.
IFA has always recognised the importance of projects like the South Kerry Greenway, in terms of the potential for agri-tourism and the promotion of economic activity in rural areas.
IFA National Environment Chairman Paul O’Brien said he expects this episode would lead to a new approach for Greenways that would avoid CPOs; work with a Voluntary Land Acquisition Strategy, which would present alternative options to landowners; adhere to an agreed Code of Practice when dealing with farmers, which involves the employment of a professional agronomist for the farmer; and ensures that farmers are fully and fairly compensated.
Kerry County Council engaged in a constructive co-design approach on the Tralee–Fenit Greenway and the Abbeyfeale–Listowel Greenway in north Kerry, which was based on goodwill and consultation.
Unfortunately, the approach in south Kerry has been more adversarial, where they did not value the goodwill of the farmers; sought to impose the statutory legal process; and failed to engage agronomists at the route design stage.