Sunday, September 15, 2019

Greenway office to be located in Ballinasloe

In a significant move for the Dublin Galway greenway, Ballinasloe has been selected as the location for the office that will oversee the project. In July 2019, Senator Maura Hopkins called for the public office for the Athlone to Galway Greenway to be located in the East Galway town. While there had been previous local opposition to the greenway in Galway, it is hoped that the Ballinasloe to Athlone section of the greenway can move ahead in 2020. Consultants have been appointed to oversee the project for building the bridge over the Shannon. Having a local office in Ballinasloe may also help encourage local support for the Greenway across east Galway. Due to entrenched opposition, the section of the Dublin Galway Greenway through Galway was paused back in 2015 by the then minister of transport Pascal Donohue. Funds for the project were reallocated to the royal canal greenway in Kildare and Meath. These sections have now been completed which means that there is a continuous greenway from Maynooth to Athlone making it the longest greenway in ireland.

5 comments:

  1. Westmeath Co Co, TII/NRA intend using CPO to forcefully acquire working farmland/private property for the route. They have learned nothing from their 2015 fiasco in east Galway. Mayo, Waterford, Dublin-Athlone delivered without CPO, yet insist on using CPO west of the Shannon. Landowners are prepared to defend their private property rights again as they did in 2015. One wonders if the Government's real goal is to set the precedent of using legislation to acquire farmland/private property for non critical/recreational infrastructure which will have the effect of reducing landowners private property rights. In 2015 TII/NRA told farmers at a meeting in Loughrea that farmers should have their propertry rights reduced.

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  2. "Dublin-Athlone delivered without CPO, yet insist on using CPO west of the Shannon"

    There was the small matter of a single contiguous stretch of canal towpath already in the states hands that facilitated the completion of this stretch as you well know. West of the Shannon, there is no such path in place, so there is no option other than to use some land that is currently in private ownership. Negotiating with a large number of farmers will never produce consensus on a route, so the state must retain the option of CPO or the route will be forced onto hard shoulder or busy backroads at every turn.

    Clearly the IFA have chosen to interpret this not as a process that can be negotiated and where CPO would only be used as a last resort if other reasonable options have been exhausted, but as a conspiracy (as you imply) and an existential threat threatening to undermine ownership rights of farmers. One wonders how many of those rights must be on historically shaky grounds if they are so concerned by this.

    How in the name of god did all those colossal motorways get built on farm land considering they are significantly larger than a mere cycle path? Was CPO not a factor there? Is the money on offer this time not sufficient? Do farmers have some fundamental objection to bicycles that they don't have to cars?

    The concept of the greater good of the community serviced by the Greenway should be front and center here. You cannot bemoan the decline of rural Ireland at every opportunity but stand resolutely against an obviously extremely beneficial development for your area because it may inconvenience you slightly. That is rank hypocrisy.

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  3. AS
    Your claim that there is no state owned land suitable for greenway west of the Shannon is ridiculous. You appear unaware of the publicly owned, 65km corridor of land, shovel ready for a cycle route, from Athenry to Collooney. Despite public demand Iarnrod Eireann and politicians are blocking the construction of a greenway. Land owners in Galway have put forward alternative routes using the internationally accepted Eurovelo guidelines without the need for CPO. As we are currently seeing in Kerry the Dept of Transport is refusing to consider acceptable alternatives as they appear more interested in setting the precedent of using legislation (CPO) to forcefully acquire working farmland/private property for non-critical/recreational infrastructure. We had public consultation processes in 2015 and 2017 regarding cycling infrastructure where over 80% of respondents stipulated that they are opposed to the use of legislation/CPO to forcefully acquire private property for cycle routes. This is not what the Dept of Transport wanted and in typical Irish Government style are going to have another so called “consultation process” in the hope that they get the “right answer” this time.
    An Taisce’s National Cycling Co-ordinator, Damien O’Tuama, stated in his annual report that, to encourage cycling, “policy focus in rural areas needs to extend beyond greenways and towards making existing roads safe”. I suggest you read his report.
    As we have seen in several legal cases over the years private property rights in this country are currently rock solid. The Government intends undermining this position by attempting to set the precedent of using legislation to forcefully acquire private property for non-critical/recreational infrastructure. Land owners will not accept a dilution of their private rights. At a meeting in Loughrea in 2015 TII/NRA and Galway Co Co stated that farmers should have their property rights reduced. What we are seeing with the greenway project is their attempt to enforce this policy. Are you suggesting that the IFA are supporting the use of CPO to forcefully acquire working farm land for the greenway project? One wonders if the next step will be the introduction of Right to Roam legislation.
    Motorways are strategic/critical infrastructure, greenways are not. You cannot have a hair pin bend on a road with a 120km/hr speed limit. Are you not aware of this? This has nothing to do with money. Landowners have clearly and continuously stated that their land is not for sale and this will remain the case.
    The “greater good” argument is a subjective argument not an objective one. The only arbitrator of the “greater good” argument is mob rule as far as I can see. Greenways accrue no benefit to farms or farmers despite what you claim. You are buying into Government spin on this issue. Land owners and rural communities do not want the same anti-social behaviour visited on them that we see on the existing sections of the Dublin Galway greenway. Rural communities have the right to demand, and to insist on, peace and security in their own homes, the ability to run their businesses without hindrance or interference, and the right to continue their way of life. Rural communities are not subservient to the urban populations.

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  4. It is great that the disused rail line from Athenry to Collooney remains in state hands and it would be wonderful if a greenway was to be built on it. I would absolutely support such a project. However as I thought was clear, I was referring to the lack of state land on an East-West axis not North-South. Or are you perhaps suggesting that the Athenry to Collooney route should form part of the Dublin Galway greenway?

    So I take it from your response that CPOs were used in the Motorway construction process, but that in that case, they were acceptable to the farming community given that the infrastructure was ajudged by someone or other to be "critical". The Dublin Galway greenway would allow for the completion of a trans-European cycle route that would terminate in Galway and would open up a whole new tourist market and generate a huge amount of new tourism at a time when it would appear that traditional tourism is starting to decline once again. I think that is pretty critical, but we can agree to disagree.

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  5. I entirely agree with Mr O'Tuama's statement on rural roads, but I understand the term "extend beyond greenways" to mean that greenways, while very important, are only part of the picture. Indeed, if it were actually possible to make rural roads safer, I think there would be widespread support for a Euro Velo route mostly based on rural roads beyond the Shannon and there would be no need for any CPOs.

    However, the considerable problem with making rural roads safer is that pretty much every boreen in the country has a huge number of houses on it. Funnily enough Galway itself has the dubious honour of being the county with the highest number of one-off houses in the country at 76.63% (https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-cp1hii/cp1hii/od/). So it would seem that there is a price at which farmers are willing to part with huge tracts of their precious land after all. Presumably all those one-off houses in the middle of nowhere while rural villages are left to die are "critical" too?

    In any case, I very much doubt that the majority of people living down these busy bucolic boreens would be inclined to take kindly to any signs asking them to slow down or, god forbid, any traffic calming mechanisms that might need to be put in place to make these roads safer. In fact, I would suggest that there would be uproar on an even bigger scale than there is currently. The Irish alternative solution of not making the roads any safer and just sticking up a few signs for the cycle tourists would most likely be a waste of money (as it was on the euro velo 2 route in Wexford) as it would become clear that the routes were not safe and pretty soon nobody would come.

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