The Fingal Coastal Way — a planned greenway which would link Donabate, Rush, Loughshinny, Skerries, and Balbriggan — has been subject to a large volume of fearmongering and misinformation, public consultations submissions show.
The submissions against the project contain claims which are commonly used against walking and cycling projects, and some of the objections contain threats of protesting and legal action against the greenway. Claims are made in the submission including that the greenway would “destroy” an area, that residents would be put in danger and that privacy put at risk.
The deadline for submission has now been extended and meetings have been rescheduled and reformated for Balbriggan. In line with best practice, the submissions for the walking and cycling route are published on the consultation page for the project, with the exact addresses etc redated.
On the 32km route, two areas are proving to be the main flashpoints for fearmongering — the combined areas of Hampton Cove and Bower in Balbriggan, and The Hoar Rock and Quay Street in Skerries. In Balbriggan the issues have sparked off where the route is via housing estate while in Skerries it is along low-traffic streets in the town.
As is standard for walking and cycling projects, many of the submissions said that they were not against greenways but just wanted it located elsewhere, be it on the next road over or in another part of town.
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Similarly to other greenways, objections from both areas mention safety concerns, and fears that anti-social behaviour would increase.
One fearmongering prediction said that “anti-social behaviour, youth drinking, drugs and loitering” would increase. One resident in Balbriggan said: “We greatly fear anti-social behaviour eg drinking, gangs, theft from cars, damage to gardens, extensive littering…”.
Another said: “Other greenways such as Waterford or Westport are repurposed brownfield sites where there is little in the way of housing and therefore less of an impact for residents. Turning the FCW into Hampton Cove will ensure that crime and anti-social behaviour will gravitate to this area.”
These types of predictions have been made previously by objectors in both rural and urban areas who were against now-successful greenways. After such routes were built locals outline how greenways have improved their areas, and often locals are the largest user groups of greenways.
A large number of objections from both areas also mention a figure of 300,000 users per year — at least one mentions that this is the number of visitors that the Waterford Greenway receives. There seems to be a misconception that all greenway users will pass every point in the greenway and that the areas will be flooded with people. In practice, many greenway users only visit a part of a greenway.
In Skerries, there are strong fears that parking would be reduced at The Hoar Rock and Quay Street which are high-demand areas, although there are no firm plans to do so at this stage. It is possible to implement the route with little or no parking restrictions using measures to restrict through-traffic.
A public consultation map for the streets shows a note outlining that “one-way traffic system to be developed following public consultation”. But most of the submissions make claims based on ideas of what’s planned rather than any firm plan.
A point of misinformation which was repeated to a large extent in a number of objections stated: ” all other Greenways in the country are located on Canal banks, through parks, wooded areas or repurposed railway line and NOT though housing estates.”
This is misinformation because sections of greenways in Castlebar, Westport, Killala, Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire, and South Dublin go via housing estates and other urban streets or rural residential roads. Some of these are alongside rivers but this is no different to what’s planned in north County Dublin.
Different objectors object to the route following the coast or not depending on where they live — similarly farmers who are objecting to sections while people along streets the greenway is using are suggesting further use of farmlands rather than giving via the towns on the route.
A number of submissions which are supportive of the project urge the council to make better use of segregation between walking and cycling where possible.
You can reply to the consultation at consult.fingal.ie.
Artist’s impressions of The Hoar Rock and Quay Street section of the route:
Project route drawings and draft options in the continuous areas in Skerries and Balbriggan: