Public urged to support Royal Canal Greenway proposals as opposition mounts in Dublin 15

— Route part of cross-country Dublin to Galway Greenway.
— Privacy intrusion, fear of crime, ecologically concerns are core complaints.
— Politicians say local opposition is to one option, not concept of greenway.

Opposition is mounting to a lower-cost alternative to dealing with the Royal Canal Greenway at what is known as the “deep sinking” section of the canal around Dublin 15.

Fingal County Council are looking to progress the remaining section of the route in their area from the Co Kildare / Co Dublin boarder to Castleknock. The council is holding early public consultation which ends this Friday, March 22.

The “deep sinking” section of the canal has a narrow stony towpath on south bank, beside a sharp fall into the canal — installing a greenway path for walking and cycling would require major and expensive engineering works. A new plan has been developed to develop a new path to the north of the canal.

This would mean the greenway route would stay on the north side of the canal for longer and only cross to the south side using a new walking and cycling bridge west of Castleknock train station.

But many residents are objecting to this option with complaints about privacy intrusion the path coming too close to rear gardens of houses, fears of increased crime, and ecologically concerns.

On the north bank of the canal the council as outlined how there will a number of opportunities to link the greenway directly with residential areas — this too, however, is a bone of contention with some residents.

“Plans for Castleknock to Coolmine section are facing huge local opposition which we don’t believe reflect the general public view. Help make the greenway happen. Email fingal.developmentplan@fingal.ie to make sure your view is heard. Don’t complain later when it’s not built!,” said the twitter account for royalcanalgreenway.ie — which was started to follow the progress of the overall project.

Joan Burton, Labour Party TD and former Tánaiste, said: “I hosted a packed public meeting, alongside my colleague John Walsh, on the proposed route of the Royal Canal Urban Greenway. Local residents made clear to us the fundamental problems they have with the proposed route. Going forward, we will be supporting their efforts to make their voices heard.”

Former co-opted councillor John Walsh (Labour Party) said: “I attended Fingal Council’s official consultation on the Royal Canal Urban Greenway today. The consultant’s proposed route for the Greenway is hugely disappointing – taking the north side of the Canal from Roselawn will destroy the wildlife corridor along this section of the Canal and impinge severely on local residents. A bad option which is all about minimising costs – this should be revisited as soon as possible.”

Cllr Natalie Treacy (Sinn Féin) said: “Just spent the last 2 hours with some lovely residents from Delwood, Brompton and Roselawn as they took me for a walk along the canal so they could show me their concerns about putting the Royal Canal Greenways on the North Bank right at the bottom of their back gardens.”

Cllr Natalie said: “Not one of them are against the Royal Canal Greenways as a matter of fact they all welcome it and are in favour of it. However they do have a big problem with the footfall going along their back gardens.And the loss of privacy. Public consultations are open until 22nd March and I have encouraged them all to make submissions. I also have a meeting in the morning with planning to voice some of the residents concerns. So don’t forget folks use the consultation process. I look forward to helping and supporting the residents in any way I can!”

A meeting held by local Green Party councillor Roderic O’Gorman last week was described as “heated” and another attendee said that “we went to a meeting [about the greenway] yesterday and there was lots of objections from local residents and very few dissenting voices at the meeting”. Another meeting is planned by Solidarity TD for Dublin West in her constituency office at 7.30pm this Thursday.

MORE: consult.fingal.ie

Route option drawings:

 

CORRECTION: John Walsh was originally mentioned in this article as a councillor. He is in fact a local party representative. He was formally a councilor when he was co-opted ahead of the 2014 local elections.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

20 Comments

  1. Can I ask what evidence the author has on the proposed route being lower cost than the original route proposed in 2012 (which included engineering solutions to the deep sinking referenced in the article?). So far, no information on the proposed cost of the scheme has been provided by FCC.
    Additionally, no assessment has been performed by the Council to assure the ecological / environmental impact to the North bank is indeed a better option to the South bank route.

    Finally – what gives the author the right to dismiss the concerns of residents who would have to deal with the negative impact of this proposed greenway 24/7? Many of the residents have already lived through the impacts of diminished safety/security, anti-social behaviour and increased crime/vandalism over the last number of decades and have undertaken efforts to close off laneways/ spaces which encourage this kind of behaviour. The concerns expressed by residents are valid concerns that need to be taken seriously by Final County Council.

    As you have pointed out in several places in the article- local residents are not opposed to the greenway as a concept. They just want to see it done right in a way that does not bring additional risk to their daily lives.

  2. Cian,

    I sent you a mail to correct inaccuracies in your report. Let me know if you want to meet and I can give you the tour. It might help with your follow-up report on the optimum route selection and why it has not been disclosed by Fingal and NTA.

    Thanks,

    David

  3. Dear Cian
    Your headline and article are sensational and very misleading and it appears to be on hearsay rather than being researched by you. It gives the impression that residents such as my self are against the Green Way – that is an untruth and it is hurtful. Every local meeting has been voiced in favour of the Greenway with the enhancement of the existing path on the South Bank of the Canal. This is covered in the Atkins comprehensive report of Royal Canal Greenway Feasibility Report 2012.

    To see the point of view from my position or neighbouring ones I will be glad to accommodate you.

  4. Hi Cian
    I am a resident of Dublin 15 who is not effected by issues of privacy or intrusion, am a keen cyclist and have campaigned for many years to have this stretch of the Royal Canal Greenway completed.
    You’re article appears a little unfair and lacking in factual information.Atkins completed a detailed feasibility report in December 2012.Atkins proposed a route along the current tow path (south side of the deep sinking).
    This plan was supported by all of the major stakeholders and the public in general. The rational and reasoning for the change of plan is in a draft report and is currently not available to the public. Have you seen it? The costing has not been provided so it is unfair to state that this is a cheaper option.
    It is somewhat unfair to expect any member of the public to understand this radical change with maps and pictures as their only reference points.
    I have attended the majority of the public meetings and contrary to your article there is full support for the Royal Canal Greenway.
    I urge you to to read the reports available and request that cycle.com campaign to insist that budget should not be the main driver in choosing the route. The route chosen should be the least damaging ecologically, the safest for cyclists & pedestrians and the one which is the emerging preferred route for all.
    Fingal County Council have said they are open to change and it is only by expressing these concerns that they are aware of issues. At no stage has there been any mention of it “not being built”
    I can only select my preferred option based on studies, research and invaluable local knowledge.I will be happy to share my research with you at any stage.. .

  5. I understand the residents fears to a point; if the existing path is on the South bank why wouldn’t you build it there? But there is an element of holding on to what you perceive to be yours in this also. The canal bank and the greenway belong to the wider public and will be a great amenity for all. There are sound reasons for building on the North bank and not the South. To address some of the points made:

    1. Cost: The towpath from Clonsilla on the north bank stops at Porterstown bridge and continues on as a difficult, narrow and dangerous path high above the canal on the South bank. I’ve walked my bike along it many times. It appears from the lay of the land that the original towpath *was* on the North bank but was abandoned or more likely co-opted by a landowner in the distant past and is now heavily overgrown (please correct me if I am wrong on this), but there is no doubt that it is far flatter and more suitable for a greenway. While we don’t know the cost projection, there is no doubt in my mind as an engineer that the South bank is by far the costlier option as it would involve a much more difficult technical challenge of lowering and widening over a kilometer of the southern bank.

    2. Anti-social behaviour: The benefits of having the Royal Canal greenway on your doorstep will hugely outweigh any potenial issues. Towards Clonsilla a new apartment block has created a path to the canal as will the Harmonstown SDZ. They regard it as a great advantage; as will the residents that will live there, because it will just be there, and they won’t have the option to get upset over hypothetical negatives. It will encourage kids to walk and cycle and families to get out and enjoy a wonderful amenity. Blocking off pathways or shortcuts is not good practice in a healthy society. Old housing estates had permeability which greatly improved community life and interconnectedness. This gated community mindset people are adopting more and more is corrosive and paranoid and is having a negative impact on social connectivity. As a former kid myself, I am well aware that adults idea of anti-social behaviour is mostly a matter of perspective. Kids will be kids whether you try to stop them doing so or not.

    3. Ecology: This is a valid concern to a point. However, if we need to choose between trying to improve the environment by increasing the number of people not driving (which means proper infrastructure), or maintaining every last scrap of land that farming and building have not yet destroyed, we have already lost. We should not be in a position where we are left with so little that we have to fight over the scraps. We *can* have both land left to itself and proper cycling infrastructure. We must demand this for the greater good.

  6. Hello all —

    To try to address the above comments as best as possible….

    The article makes it as clear as possible that the opposition is to the option proposed by Fingal County Council, not opposed to the concept of a greenway. This information is provided clearly and promptly in the article, as follows:

    (1) The headline is: “Public urged to support Royal Canal Greenway proposals as opposition mounts in Dublin 15” — note. It states “Royal Canal Greenway proposals”. The proposals are which the council has put forward.

    (2) The third standfirst (bullet point) states: “Politicians say local opposition is to one option, not concept of greenway.”

    (3) The opening paragraph starts by saying: “Opposition is mounting to a lower-cost alternative…”

    (4) Within quotes from politicians.

    None of the above states or implies that residents or anybody else is against the concept of greenway or against other options which they might prefer or previous options etc.

    There’s no sensationalism or inaccuracies in the headline. A group is urging the public to support the greenway proposals and opposition has mounted to those same proposals — these are both factual points.

    The article also factually gives a rundown of the plan, the status of it, and what people are saying about it — most of the article is direct quotes from TDs and councillors who are mostly supporting the people objecting to the proposals.

    Re evidence “what evidence the author has on the proposed route being lower cost than the original route proposed” — note that most of the references in the article to cost are linked to politicians who are supporting the objectors. But also think about this: The north side option mainly includes grassland, an area zoned as open area, an existing shared lane etc — putting paths across such land is generally much cheaper than large-scale engineering works of the previous plans for the deep sink.

    Regarding an ecological / environmental assessment — the article makes no judgment on this, but I’ll add: It would not be a huge surprise if the environmental risk of the deep sink option was higher than installing major engineering works. The deep sink section is right beside the water and would require a lot more concrete etc. Upgrading the deep sink section would impact on the wilder landscape all the way alongside the existing towpath, while the new option includes long lengths of non-descript grass and and existing shared lane (both of which have little environmental value). The north bank route is also generally further away from the water — which again reduces risk.

    Re: “what gives the author the right to dismiss the concerns of residents who would have to deal with the negative impact of this proposed greenway 24/7” — it is really unclear what part of the article this refers to — nothing in the article judges or dismisses the concerns of residents.

    Regards,

    Cian Ginty
    Editor, IrishCycle.com

  7. “Not one of them are against the Royal Canal Greenways as a matter of fact they all welcome it and are in favour of it. However they do have a big problem with the footfall going along their back gardens.And the loss of privacy.”

    That reads as: “We’re in favour of it, as long as it doesn’t come anywhere near us.” The near-literal NIMBYism is very amusing!

  8. “Re evidence “what evidence the author has on the proposed route being lower cost than the original route proposed” — note that most of the references in the article to cost are linked to politicians who are supporting the objectors. But also think about this: The north side option mainly includes grassland, an area zoned as open area, an existing shared lane etc — putting paths across such land is generally much cheaper than large-scale engineering works of the previous plans for the deep sink.”

    But we’re just basing this primarily on pictures from Google Maps and artist impressions based on what they think the land looks like.

    I would guess that the most contentious part of the proposed route is from where the new bridge crosses the canal and the intersection with the Coolmine Road as this is where the route will travel behind people’s gardens and potentially open cul de sacs with access points to the path. It is clear that no one has walked this section as part of the planning process and as a result can state categorically that this route will be cheaper than redeveloping the same section along the Southside path.

    I know this section very well, having grown up nearby. From image “LL” you can see that a lot of houses in Delwood Park have extended (legally) their gardens towards the canal. In the middle, you can see that 4-5 houses that have not (Where “Greenway on the Northern Embankment” arrow is pointed). There is a reason for this. The slope to the canal starts less than 5 ft from the back of the original garden walls and drops steeply all the way down to the canal. The map even illustrates the steep contours and how is goes inland at this section. How is this going to be crossed, are they going to have to build another bridge?

    For the houses with extended gardens, the space between their back wall and the slope to the canal would also be about 5 ft. Where is the path going to go? Is the path going to be cantilevered? How much will this cost. Are the gardens going to be CPO’d instead? How much will that cost etc. Is this really cheaper than developing the existing path?

    The problem is, no one knows, as a detailed cost report of the proposed route has not been released. And this is where I get annoyed. I want proper cycling infrastructure built. To a high standard. Everywhere. If this is the type of planning that is involved, where reasonable questions cannot be answered, where standard planning decisions cannot be supported and the lowest cost always chosen, then we will forever be left with painted cycleways on footpaths and bus lanes.

  9. It’s extended from Not In My Back yard to Not Near My Back Yard!

  10. I have been living on Delwood Road since 1985. I think it’s unfortunate that only one narrative is emerging on how local residents feel about the proposed greenway. Most people I have spoken to are fully in favour of it and are not worried about increased crime etc. Dramatic accounts of decades of anti social problems in this area are totally at odds with our own experience here. Years ago for a short period young people from our own houses used to drink and mess about on the greens and the canal banks. So a small very vocal group of residents had all the Delwood laneways closed. On our road we got used to late night revelry as the same now slightly older young people made their way home from the Roselawn.That was at least fifteen years ago and I don’t think anyone felt seriously threatened at any stage.
    A more serious issue on which there is very little focus is the extension of back gardens on Roselawn Road right down to the canal bank and over the original towpath. Is there any information on whether or not this land is still in public ownership or if not when it was sold? The same situation applies to some gardens in the cul de sacs. These issues have major implications for both the route of the proposed greenway and access points to it.
    It is difficult to understand why concerns expressed about wildlife habitats on the north bank do not take into account the extension of decking etc. right down to the water.
    I believe that the canal and the public areas here belong to everyone and not just those of us who live locally.

  11. Having attended the public information session on the proposed Greenway at the Fingal Offices in Blanchardstown, I was somewhat taken aback by the extent and vehemence of the opposition to the plans from local residents. I attempted to engage in discussion with some of them but was dismissed as someone not from the area. The fact that I was wearing a cycling jacket and carrying a helmet may have been a factor too! The one Councillor present at the time was happy to amplify any objections he was hearing, no doubt with a view to the elections later in the year.
    Having since looked at the detail maps and satellite views of the area, the residents most likely to be affected are those in the 22 houses on the south side of Delwood Park. As pointed out by Niall earlier today, most of these have encroached on what was previously CIE or OPW property and have more than doubled the length of their original back gardens. Unfortunately, it appears that they have largely appropriated the more level land and the wooded area between the extended gardens and the canal bank seems quite sloped. Perhaps the fear of possibly having to surrender some of the former public land is driving their opposition?

  12. As a local resident I am embarrassed that Liam, who came to a public forum at Fingal Council office, was dismissed as someone from outside the area who had no right to offer an opinion on a significant public project.Unfortunately I am not surprised, having attended Roderic O Gorman’s recent public meeting where four or five people dominated the proceedings, and allowed no time for dissenting views. I’m sure that a number of people, including myself, would have spoken but for the confrontational and hostile attitude of this small number of people. Somehow the idea has emerged that the only people who have any right to express an opinion on the issue are those whose gardens extend onto the north towpath.
    As the whole project is of national importance I think it would be a very positive development if people from outside this small area had an input. All voices need to be heard before a final decision is made on the plan.
    Submissions can still be made to Fingal County Council. Also the Atkins Feasability Study Report on the Royal Canal Greenway 2012 which is available in summary online is well worth reading. I have heard it being selectively quoted and misquoted at meetings. The OSI historic maps archive on Geohive is also worth looking at to show the layout of the canal and towpaths before development began here in the early 1970s.

  13. Thanks for highlighting this Cian. Hopefully it will be supported widely so we can enjoy a truly beautiful Greenway on our doorstep.

  14. Cian,

    There are a number of errors in your piece:

    Firstly, that section of canal is called the deep sinking, not sink.

    John Walsh is not a councillor.

    The route will go through some back gardens, not close to them. And to clarify some other comments on your article, those additional lands were purchased, not annexed by the landowners.

    The north bank option is not necessarily a lower cost option given that there will be a long span bridge and access ramps, extensive cpo’s and slope stabilisation measures. No other options were provided nor costings for same. The only publicly available feasibility study was undertaken by Atkins in 2012 for Fingal Co Co and this explores a number of options for the south bank. Irish Rail did not have any objections at that time. Their position remains the same when I checked on Friday last.

    There were no environmental studies carried out or provided.

    There were no drawings provided but some lines on an aerial photograph. Residents are having difficulty with the minimal information and notification provided, even with a good understanding of the terrain or ground conditions. Therefore, it would be even more difficult for somebody without local knowledge to make an informed decision on same. It would be preferable if you were fully informed on the scheme before you promote the destruction of a 1km stretch of unspoilt habitat and disrupt an entire community.

    I would be glad to show you around if you want to follow up with a balanced article. My offer stands for any other commentators with an interest in the scheme.

    Regards

    David

  15. @Niall
    You say the residents extended their gardens legally. How is it legal to appropriate state land? Were they given official permission to do so? If not, is there a statute of limitations? Squatters rights? How does it work?

  16. @David — Re “deep sinking” and the fact John Walsh is not a councillor are corrected. Thank you for those. However, on your other points:

    I reported that “But many residents are objecting to this option with complaints about privacy intrusion the path coming too close to rear gardens of houses, fears of increased crime, and ecologically concerns” — I’m really not getting involved with reporting of landownership questions (I mean I’m not making a judgment call one way or another), but even if the route goes through some gardens (regardless of ownership) that does not mean it’s not also going to the rear of other gardens. Also note that you are telling me that “Residents are having difficulty” with the maps / drawings overlay while also saying you are sure of something. So, I don’t accept there is anything to correct on this — the article covers the details as best as possable the time of publication.

    “The north bank option is not necessarily a lower cost option…” — if “not necessarily” is as strong as you are going there, there’s nothing to correct. Even people supporting residents have been calling it the lower cost option or the option.

    The article does not report anything about what Irish Rail said or did not say. So, nothing to correct.

    Re “no environmental studies carried out or provide” — the article does not say there is or is not one. This is an early form of consultation, it’s not the planning permission stage.

    Re “I would be glad to show you around if you want to follow up with a balanced article” — the article is about 650 words long and around 300 of those words are direct quotes from councillors etc who are supporting residents. This is compared to just 60 words from @royalgreenway. The rest of the article is a factual outline of the situation.

    Re “before you promote the destruction of a 1km stretch of unspoilt habitat” — there’s a lot to untangle here. And more questions than answers… how are you calculating 1km? Are you including the current laneway? Is the grassland and gardens also unspoiled habitat? Is only the bit near houses classed as unspoiled habitat, what about the area around the existing towpath and the canal?

    Re “and disrupt an entire community” — What do you mean by this?

  17. Cian, you have a lot of questions there. Take a visit and we can work through them. I’d be glad to show around. You have my email so get in touch and we can arrange it. Thanks again. David

  18. Maybe for the benefit of everybody you could answer the last two?

    Or at least: Re “and disrupt an entire community” — What do you mean by this?

  19. @ David
    I am puzzled by your statement that the proposed Greenway route runs through some back gardens. I have looked again at sheet 10 which covers the Delwood section and the yellow line indicating the preferred route seems to deliberately skirt the extended rear gardens. As far as I can make out, the same applies to the extended side gardens at the ends of the cul-de-sacs. I would imagine that it would greatly simplify the construction of the Greenway were to line to be moved 10m to the north as the ground is generally flatter closer to the houses. As currently indicated, I suspect some cutting into the sloping bank will be required but that is a detailed design issue more appropriate to the full planning process next year. Incidentally, I find the composite photo-drawings to be a very good way of explaining a scheme rather than having to flick back and forth between drawings and satellite photos.
    On the question of the ownership of the extended gardens, I would expect that the residents involved have probably acquired rights by now whether they bought the land or not. As a matter of interest, do you know who sold them the land as I have seen Waterways Ireland, Fingal Co Co and even the ESB mentioned?

  20. @aka
    Who said it was state land! There has always been an issue with the boundary between where the old farm that Delwood is located on and the canal. Some argued that the boundary was at the top of the hill and all the land up to this point belonged to the residents. For people who know it, the reason the land behind the original gardens slopes up is because the builders just pushed all the excess rubble back there. If this was state land, could they have done this?

    Anyway, the issue was finally agreed legally about 10-12 years ago. I know who it is with too, however, it’s not my place to say who the contracts are between. If Fingal bothered to do their due diligence on this and actually walked the land, reviewed land portfolios etc, this could have been addressed before they announced the plan.

    As I’ve already mentioned above, there are other issues along the route that have not been mentioned in the proposal and as a result covered and don’t these don’t involve the extended gardens.

    @Liam Egan
    “I have looked again at sheet 10 which covers the Delwood section and the yellow line indicating the preferred route seems to deliberately skirt the extended rear gardens” but have you physically walked the land behind the gardens. Has anybody walked the land? There is no room behind these gardens to build a 4m wide path unless the gardens are CPO’d back. So, as I mentioned above, is the path now to be built on the side of a steep hill (at a much higher cost) or do they plan on running it at canal level.

    Again, this is just wasting time and delaying the construction of the path, that I think we all want. Basic planning filed work has not been performed.

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