Objection to CPO endangers Innisbiggle cable car project


Islanders off the Co Mayo coast face a delay in the construction of a cable car linking them to Achill. The 50 residents of Innisbiggle have been waiting for years for a link across the 500 metres to Bullsmouth, an area notorious for strong tidal currents.

The £1.6 million project, approved by the Department of the Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, was handed over by the Minister of State, Mr Eamon O Cuiv, to Mayo County Council, and a subvention for ongoing costs was promised.

Before Christmas, the council issued a CPO to acquire land in Innisbiggle because there was a doubt over the legal ownership of a plot of land required. An objection has now been lodged to the CPO, which has led to fears the project would not only be further delayed but funding might be lost.

The man who owns the land, Mr Kevin McHugh, is understood to support the project. Mr McHugh, a native of Achill, is the owner of Atlantic Dawn, reputed to be the world's largest fishing ship.

Mr Pol O Foighil, Innisbiggle Co-op manager, said the co-op had already agreed long-lease terms with the three landowners affected by the project but this was unacceptable to Mayo County Council, which then issued the CPO. "We now have to have a public hearing and wait for a decision from the Minister," he said. "It could take several years for this to happen. This will definitely endanger the project."

Mayo county secretary Mr Gilbert Groarke said there was a slight doubt over ownership of some of the land. "If the State is to invest £1.6 million, it has to be quite sure there is no doubt over land ownership." He added: "If the CPO is annulled the project could be in danger. The council is not happy with a long-term lease. Land must be vested with a local authority."

Mr Pat Calvey, chairman of Innisbiggle Co-op, said discussions were continuing "with all sides" in an attempt to speed up the project. A spokesman for Mr McHugh said following a meeting last summer the council was to present him with a map on a revised proposal to buy two acres of land. The map had never been forwarded or any further proposal made. Mr McHugh had been left with no option but to object to the CPO.