Cyclists and walkers on Mayo’s Great Western Greenway are being misled to believe a 1.6km diversion onto a main road is because of construction work – a dispute between landowners and the council is the real reason behind the closure.
The Mayo News reports that that Mayo County Council has erected signs saying the greenway from Westport to Achill is closed due to construction, but further up the greenway the route is fenced off with signs saying “keep out” and “private property”.
This is at least the second case of landowners causing significant diversions from the off-road route and onto busy and narrow main roads.
The route was built with “permissive access” permission, where landowners consent to a route over their land without selling the land to the council, or the threat of compulsory purchaser orders.
But the latest events, even if resolved, will likely add to the private arguments from some involved in cycling promotion who are against use of permissive access on the grounds that landowners can revoke access and that roads would never be built in the same way.
While a railway had once been in place from Westport to Achill, the route was sold off after trains stop running.
A spokesperson for the council confirmed to the Mayo News that it is trying to resolve a dispute with a landowner but would not give details.
In another dispute last year, which the council claims is unconnected, the Mayo News quoted a spokesman for landowners as saying: “There are sheep coming onto the Greenway from the commonage and getting into people’s lands and gardens because the proper fencing was not put up by the council. It has gone beyond a joke. We will not be opening the gate until the council completes the work.”
While these disputes have closed sections of the built greenway, there are also other diversions from the old railway route which were never part of the greenway and where cyclists are forced onto the road. These sections include main roads into Newport and an industrial estate in Westport.