Keeping the option of using compulsory purchase orders for walking and cycling routes is “essential” to allow the Government to protect significant funding spent on greenway projects, the minister of transport Paschal Donohoe has said.
Minister Donohoe was responding to a written parliamentary question by Finian McGrath TD, who is outspoken for his focus on the misbehavior of some people who cycle.
Separately, local media in Galway reported yesterday on a meeting between farming groups and the minister. Galway Bay FM reported that: “IFA County Chairman Pat Murphy says that Minister Donoghue listened to farmers concerns at last nights meeting – and gave assurances that the project would not be forced through.”
Groups of farmers in Galway and elsewhere have been set against the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) for cycling projects, deeming them less important than other infrastructure such as roads, motorways and power lines.
To-date many greenways in Ireland have been developed using ‘permissive access’ arrangements where landowner agree to the development of greenways across their land. This has allowed some county councils to develop greenways fast and relatively cheaply, but it has also resulted major access and design compromises such as long, awkward or less accessible temporary and permanent detours — sometimes onto busy roads with no safe paths.
In the parliamentary reply dated last Thursday, Minister Donohoe, who is a Fine Gael TD for Dublin Central, said: “While the Deputy does not specify any particular greenway development I would like to take the proposed Dublin to Galway Greenway for which CPO may be required as an example. I understand that in the planning for this Greenway both the National Roads Authority and Westmeath County Council received similar legal advice that the appropriate legislation to compulsory purchase land required for the purpose of the delivering the greenway is section 213 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000.”
He said that this section of the planning acts makes “no reference to cycleways or greenways but does to the Local Authority having the power ‘for the purposes of performing any of its functions’.”
The minister added: “The Deputy will appreciate that it is essential for Government to have the ability to protect the potentially significant expenditure that can be incurred for the provision of greenways along with the protection of the rights of cyclists and pedestrians to have permanent access to such amenities for generations to come.”
Finian McGrath TD, an independent serving the area of Dublin North Central, question to the minister had said: “To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the current compulsory purchase order legislation allows for the compulsory acquisition of farmland for the provision of cycleways; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
IMAGE: Great Western Greenway, by IrishCycle.com