Decision by An Bord Pleanála to block section of greenway welcomed by Birdwatch Ireland

Planning agency agreed that Drogheda to Mornington section of Boyne Greenway would have detrimental impact on migratory seabirds

The plans included proposals for a boardwalk on the coast at Mornington, Co Meath, a popular destination for tourists. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Birdwatch Ireland has welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for a proposed new section of the Boyne Greenway.

The Boyne Greenway is a planned 52 kilometre route along the River Boyne from Longwood, Co Meath, through Trim, Navan, Slane, Drogheda and as far as the sea in east Meath.

The last 5.9 kilometre section of Greenway between Drogheda and Mornington includes a 1.8 kilometre section near the coast which is part of the Boyne Estuary Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation.

An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission on the basis that it did not believe that Meath County Council, which instigated the project, had provided satisfactory answers about the potential impact on bird populations in the Boyne Coast and Estuary Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the River Boyne and River Blackwater SAC and the Boyne Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA).


The board criticised the absence of detailed information about a 2.4km boardwalk proposed to be built inside the protected areas. ABP also stated that it was unconvinced that important sand dune habitats would not be damaged by the greenway.

The Board said it was not satisfied that proposed mitigation measures would be effective in preventing disturbance of these species.

Birdwatch Ireland first objected to the project in 2020 on the basis that in excess of 210,000 people would use the boardwalk within the habitats for migratory waterbirds during the winter period when the birds are refuelling and resting before returning to Greenland, Iceland and the high Arctic to breed.

If migratory birds are disturbed in their habitat, it could affect their ability to breed and could lead to population declines, the charity explained.

Birdwatch Ireland said there were already signs that populations of Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing and Turnstone were in decline in the area even before the building of a greenway.

It stressed its support for the concept of greenways and initiatives that pushed people away from cars and towards more sustainable modes of transport.

However, in a statement it added: “There is a clear need for strategic guidance on greenway proposals, guidance which gives equal footing to biodiversity, climate and the needs of local residents.

“Not only would this approach prevent environmental damage, it would also reduce the amount of time and public money spent deliberating such proposals.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times