State to decide on purchase of Dublin mountain land tract

Zone of 4,900 acres close to Glenasmole valley deemed ‘unique amenity’ for public

A decision is expected in the coming days over a proposal for the State to buy almost 5,000 acres in the Dublin mountains, currently for sale by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

Last week the Green Party presented the Government with a petition calling for the sale to be stopped and the lands at Glenasmole valley retained in public ownership. The petition garnered 19,500 signatures within four days.

Action groups say they are “quietly confident” Nama will announce it is taking the land off the open market, with the State buying it. The 4,900 acres, most within a special conservation and protection area, are surrounded by 200,000 hectares of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland’s largest national park. The site includes land known as the Featherbeds.

It is understood negotiations are at an advanced stage, and while Nama valued the land at €500 an acre with an overall price of €2.5 million, the State is likely to purchase it at a reduced rate. Some estimates put the final sale value at €1 million.


Amazing amenity

Green Party leader

Eamon Ryan

presented the petition to Minister for Finance

Michael Noonan

, Minister for Public Expenditure

Paschal Donohoe

and Minister of State for Heritage

Michael Ring

last Thursday. “Retaining this land would be a significant national as well as local development, which we believe has widespread public support. This is a big chunk of the Dublin mountains which should be made into a national park. It contains the source of the river Dodder and the water supply for 25,00-30,000 people. It is an amazing amenity and must remain in public ownership.”

Environmentalist Duncan Stewart, who grew up in the area, said he supports the campaign. “If it was in private ownership then developers would try every angle to exploit it. If it is owned by Nama then we, the citizens, own it,” he said.

Kevin Dennehy of the Dodder Action Group said, "It would be an appalling decision if it doesn't go through.

"It is a unique amenity, close to a city. No other capital in Europe has such an amenity within 15 minutes drive."

The chairman of the Dublin Mountains Initiative, Mark D’Alton, said, “We would view anything that keeps this unique piece of land in public ownership as a good thing.”