OMM

A world class, iconic greenway that will be extraordinarily special

Drung Hill on Mountain Stage in Kells which will form part of the South Kerry Greenway.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

THE planned South Kerry Greenway could be fully completed and operational by the end of 2022 if the required funding for the project is made available as soon as possible, Dáil Éireann has been told.

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin said An Bord Pleanála had made “a fantastic decision” when granting permission for the project after a very protracted saga involving years of planning, designs and hearings.

“I have no doubt that it will be a world class, iconic greenway that will be extraordinarily special,” he added.

The 32km route from Glenbeigh to Renard overlooks Valentia Island and runs along the old Farranfore to Valentia Harbour Railway Line which was initially opened, as far as Killorglin, in 1885 and extended in 1893.

The line was operational until 30 January 1960 and, Deputy Griffin pointed out, it is now closed almost as long as it had been opened.

Deputy Brendan Griffin
Minister Eamon Ryan

The Kerry TD told the Dáil that the next challenge is to find the funding and he asked Environment, Climate and Communications Minister, Eamon Ryan, to look favourably on the project.

Over €5 million of government funding has already been committed to the greeyway – including almost €4 million in 2014 and €1.4 million announced last week – but Deputy Griffin said another €15 million is now required to fully complete the development.

“The timeline, if it is provided soon, could see it fully completed by the end of 2022. That would be really welcome because this area of south Kerry needs help. It really does need help,” the Kerry Fine Gael TD stressed.

A traditional railiway tunnel at Mountain Stage. The Farranfore to Valentia Harbour Railway line was 63.5km long

“There doesn’t seem to be an immediate fund there but I feel that it is so special that it requires a response from government to specifically fund this particular one-off project. It is that unique, it is that world class,” he added.

Deputy Griffin said like the railway when it arrived back in the 1890s, this greenway will be an economic catalyst for the area.

“There doesn’t seem to be an immediate fund there but I feel it is so special that it requires a response from government to specifically fund this particular one-off project. It is that unique, it is that world class,” he said.

Minister Ryan, responding in the Dáil, said only had to look at some of the footage included in news reports following the decision to grant planning permission to see just how iconic this greenway will be.

Alan Ryan from Killarney enjoying a cycle along the landmark Gleesk Viaduct railway bridge built in 1892 at Foilmore, Kells.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

Most greenways have one iconic feature whereas the South Kerry version will have a number of them and they will contribute to what will be one of the finest greenways in Europe, the minister added.

He said Kerry County Council is currently considering some of the implications of the decision to grant planning permission, including the non-approval of the section from Caherciveen to Renard Point.

Minister Ryan said he expects to see some options submitted early in the new year to see how that missing link might be achieved. The county council will need to evaluate the impact of the changes to the project arising from the board’s decision and submit an updated and revised business case, including costs.

“It may be the case that it would make more sense to bring the route through the town of Caherciveen and provide an on-road, highly segregated route to bring users to the heart of the town towards Renard Point and onwards to Valentia,” Minister Ryan said.

He said his department will examine submissions from the local authority and determine what funding can be provided in the coming years.

Minister Ryan noted that €1.4 million is still remaining from the original allocation of €3.9 million in 2014 allocation and that is available to Kerry County Council to spend on the project next year.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to spend €360 million per annum on cycling and walking projects and the South Kerry Greenway will form part of that expenditure in the coming years, Minister Ryan assured Deputy Griffin.

“We will make it happen as fast as we can,” he pledged.

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