Farmers at this week’s meeting of the North Cork IFA Executive outlined their concerns about the Cork to Limerick N/M20 roadway and the Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway because of the upheaval to their farming business and the need for certainty regarding compensation and the timelines for the projects.
IFA North Cork Chairman Pat O’Keeffe said the north Cork area is a top-class, highly-productive agricultural area and the new Cork to Limerick motorway will cause significant damage to farmers. Equally, he said farmers are concerned about the impact of the Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway project.
Agricultural Consultant to the IFA, Kevin Kinsella made a detailed presentation to the meeting covering an update on both the roadway and Greenway projects, providing details on the possible timelines on the projects and an outline of the service and assistance provided by the IFA to affected farmers.
The meeting heard that farmers and landowners in the area are operating under an unacceptable cloud of uncertainty since the road development was first mooted back in the late 1990s. One farmer said “25 years is a very long time to be held up in terms of developing your farm and business. This has taken the best years away from some farmers along the route”.
There was a call from the meeting on Cork County Council to immediately fast track any planning applications from farmers that have now been removed with the announcement of the preferred route. These lands had been sterilised.
Pat O’Keeffe said IFA would be seeking an urgent meeting with the County Council and consultants on the road project to put the views and issues arising from the meeting directly to the project promoters.
“Farmers affected by the roadway deserve detailed answers to their queries at this stage. Now that the wider preferred route has been identified, it’s essential that there is early and intensive consultation with all landowners,” he said.
Kevin Kinsella explained that farmers and landowners whose property will be the subject to a CPO under the road development are entitled to full compensation.
IFA is currently negotiating an update of the IFA/TII Roads Agreement and this is a hugely important document in terms of ensuring proper compensation for farmers and landowners.
According to TII/Limerick County Council, the N/M20 project will involve 80 kilometres of new and improved dual carriageway road between Cork City and Patrickswell, Limerick that will provide bypasses of the towns of Mallow, Buttevant and Charleville and will reuse between 30% and 40% of the existing N20 road asset. Reports estimate that the cost of the project to be in the region of €1bn to €1.5bn, equivalent to €12m to €18m per km.
The IFA meeting also discussed the proposed Mallow to Dungarvan Greenway project. Cork and Waterford County Councils are proposing to build a 74km Greenway walking and cycle path between Mallow and Dungarvan that would link the towns and villages of Cappoquin, Lismore, Ballyduff, Clondulane, Fermoy, Ballyhooly, and Killavullen.
It is proposed that the Greenway would generally follow the route of the old abandoned rail line between Mallow and Dungarvan. Some farmers at the meeting raised specific concerns and objections to this route as being unsuitable and impacting very significantly on their properties.
Kevin Kinsella told the meeting that IFA had recently negotiated a New Code of Best Practice for National and Regional Greenways with TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) to protect the rights of farmers and landowners on a Greenway project. He said the Code of Best Practice is an important safeguard for farmers whose land is on Greenway routes.
“IFA and farmers understand the importance of Greenways to local communities. However, they can impact significantly on farmers whose lands are along the route. This Code allows for a clear engagement process to minimise the impact and disruption to individual farms, along with a sustainability payment to farmers for their co-operation with the project during the construction phase,” he said.
Kevin Kinsella said an essential aspect of the new code is the use of Voluntary Land Acquisition Agreements, in order to avoid the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), where private lands may need to be acquired to complete a Greenway project.
“The farmer’s statutory rights are fully protected if they participate in this voluntary process. They still have full access to mediation and arbitration if there is no agreement on the valuation of the land and compensation for other impacts on their farms,” he said.
The meeting heard that the Cork and Waterford County Councils are currently undertaking a feasibility and options assessment study of the proposed Greenway and have a public consultation open where farmers can submit their views on the proposed Greenway.
The closing date for the public consultation is Friday April 29th and farmers were encouraged to engage in the consultation process.