WATCH: Galway Athlone Greenway – Galway Talks

WATCH: Galway Athlone Greenway - Galway Talks

WATCH: Galway Athlone Greenway – Galway Talks. The development of a 140km cycling path between Galway and Athlone Greenway has become a major cause for concern for a number of landowners along the proposed route corridor for the Galway Athlone Greenway.

It’s believed a considerable number of landowners along the proposed route corridor through the south and east of the county have not even been consulted – while many more are refusing to engage with the project team.

An email was sent to the council by Galway talks with the following questions

  • Have individual farmers whose land is included in the proposed Galway Athlone Greenway been contacted to date by the county council – what methods of communication were used?
  • How many meetings have been held with farmers in Kilcolgan whose land is included on the proposed route?
  • What is the width of the proposed route – the farmers claim it was originally 3 metres but is now potentially 8 metres or more?
  • Is the council willing to meet this group of farmers who are affected?

Galway County Council response to Galway Talks

Thank you for affording the Council an opportunity to engage with you in this regard. Firstly, its important to point out that at this stage of the process all that has been identified is a “preferred corridor” not a specific route. Within that corridor there are many possible routes – so as of yet individual landholdings have not been finalised.

In relation to meetings and consultations, I have to state that extensive consultations have been undertaken.

In relation to private landowner meetings I can confirm the following

Project Liaison Officers have had over 450 face to face or phone calls meetings with landowners since January alone within the preferred corridor.

There was a meeting with the East Galway Greenway Action Group in Eyrecourt Community hall on 17/01/22.

Meeting with a group of land owners in the Oranmore/Maree area 23/12/21, with follow up site visit on 09/01/2022.

There was Zoom meeting with landowners from the Kilcolgan/Clarinbridge area on 01/02/22.

Meeting with local Councillor and landowners in Moran’s the Weir 18/02/22

Meeting with Group of commonage landowners in Clarinbridge 19/02/22

With particular reference to your query the two group meetings highlighted above would be applicable as well as all the individual ones.

I am at pains to point out that the project team will and are meeting anyone, anywhere anytime. No-one is refused a meeting.

The corridor is 200km long and there are a lot of people to meet and some people may have to wait longer than we or they would hope – but everyone is being met and will indeed have had multiple meetings before the process concludes.

It is also worth noting that to date there has been three separate public consultation events.

First Public Consultation

The 1st public Consultation was held between the 10th and 14th of August 2020 at 4 locations

  • The shamrock lodge Hotel, Clonown Road Athlone 10th August 2020
  • Shearwater Hotel Townspark, Ballinasloe 11th August 2020
  • Raheen Woods Hotel, Raheen, Athenry 12th August 2020
  • Loughrea Hotel Athenry Road, Loughrea 13th August 2020
  • Maldron Hotel Carrowmoneash Oranmore 14th August 2020

Information about the project was also available from commencement of the consultations through the virtual public consultation platform and on the project website (www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com)

The public Consultations were advertised in Local papers a week prior to the events being held.

Following the consultation, well over 3,000 responses were received. Many were individual submissions, with submissions also received from community groups and businesses. The Majority of which were in support of the project through the study area.

Public Consultation 2 (Route Corridor Options)

Public consultation No 2 began in Jan 2021. The purpose of the second consultation was to present the five corridor options that were identified and to gather feedback on these to inform the project team in proceeding to the next stage of the project

  • over 11,600 submissions were received through the online feedback form, email, post, telephone and virtual consultation meetings. 95% of which were supportive of the cycleway.
  • 2,500 wished to be added to the Mailing list to be informed of any new developments on the project also 4,000 wished to be added to the email list to receive any future updates on the project.
  • In April 2021 letters and leaflets were sent to over 8,500 landowners to outline the process for landowner engagement.
  • There were over 550 phone calls made/received by the project team. Project Liaison Officers (PLOs) were available to discuss the project through virtual meetings (on MS Teams) or by telephone. Appointments could be booked either through the online booking facility available on the website / virtual consultation room or by calling the dedicated project information.
  • After covid -19 restrictions were lifted in May the project liaison team carried out over 650 face to face meetings on the ground with landowners across the 5 route corridor options. Feedback from the Landowners informed the project team of any issues or concerns they may have and was considered in selecting the emerging preferred route Corridor.

Third Public Consultation (Emerging Preferred Corridor)

Public consultation No 3 began in Dec 2021 and ran until the end of February 2022. The purpose of the third consultation was to present the emerging preferred route corridor option that was identified and to gather feedback on this to inform the project team in proceeding to the next stage of the project.

Again, there was a lot of submissions – over 450 during the term of the third public consultation.

I can confirm that Galway County Council will make every effort to minimise the number of private land holdings directly affected by the proposed Athlone to Galway Greenway.

The strategy of the Council, and as set out clearly in the recently adopted Code Of Best Practice for National And Regional Greenways, will be to use existing suitable State-owned lands (Coillte, Bord na Móna, flood defence, etc.) along the proposed route corridors.

These lands will be prioritised in determining the preferred route option.

The width of any proposed land take was never stated at 3m. The 3m is the paved width (tarmac). There is a requirement for a 1m verge either side of that to facilitate drainage etc. and possible screening required (at landowners request) outside of that. See cross section in PDF document of a presentation given to the Loughrea, Ballinasloe and Athenry/Oranmore MD Councillors last week demonstrating this.

The expectant landtake was always stated as being a minimum of approx. 6m with some locations in excess of that – again with landowner agreement.

If, and only if, the greenway is running through undulating ground it may be required to raise it slightly to avoid low spots, then a wider land take may be sought.

However, that is extremely unlikely as the route will look to avoid that situation at all costs.

It was in that context that 8m was mentioned. See the bottom of page 9 of the now nationally adopted Code of Best Practice for the National and Regional Greenways which is attached for your convenience.

If you require any further information please don’t hesitate to contact me and indeed look at the website referenced above which also contains the up to date information.

Proposed Route Corridor – Athlone Galway GreenWay

Sally-Ann Barrett met with two landowners in Kilcolgan whose land is included in the proposed route corridor. Check out this video for the story in full.

For more watch Galway Athlone Greenway or listen back HERE.

For more stories like this, tune into Galway Talks weekdays from 9-12pm.