Kerry greenway: 197 landowners told of compulsory purchase orders

Council says it has to force land sales after failing to reach agreement after four years

Almost 200 landowners in Co Kerry have been told that compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) will be used to acquire parts of their holdings as part of a plan for a 32km greenway for cyclists.  File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

Almost 200 landowners in Co Kerry have been told that compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) will be used to acquire parts of their holdings as part of a plan for a 32km greenway for cyclists. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

 

Almost 200 landowners in Co Kerry have been told that compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) will be used to acquire parts of their holdings as part of a plan for a 32km greenway for cyclists.

Kerry County Council has lodged an application with An Bord Pleanála for the South Kerry Greenway, which will be along the old Great Southern railway line. The line, which closed in 1960, was not kept in public or rail company ownership. It runs between Glenbeigh and Renard, which is near Cahersiveen.

In addition to the 3 metre wide paved surface for the greenway, car parks are to be constructed and old tunnels and bridges are to be restored as part of the project.

The council said it has no choice but to force the sale after it failed to reach agreement over the past four years with all 197 landowners along the route.

However, the move to use CPOs to acquire the land for the project has been criticised by individual farmers and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), who view the proposal as unprecedented and a test case for all farmers.

‘Economic driver’

The council argues that the greenway would be “a key economic driver” for the area along the route, where the population is falling. The project has been voted into the county development and local area plans, the council said, which means there is an obligation on management to progress it.

The CPO, published on Friday involves 222 pieces of land measuring between 0.001 hectares to over 0.2 hectares.

Among the land owners affected are several public bodies including the council itself, Iarnród Éireann, forestry body Coillte as well as individual farmers, some of whom own a number of pieces of the old line.

Around 40 or so landholders are objecting to the route through their lands and want the council engineers to fix on alternatives. Signs saying “Greenway Yes, CPO No” have appeared along sections of the main Ring of Kerry.

The IFA said farmers fear if Kerry County Council manages to acquire lands using the CPO – then other councils are waiting in the wings to do the same which could see farmers losing land for myriad minor purposes.

They said the CPO process, which is permitted under the Housing and Roads Acts, should be reserved for major infrastructure projects.