Denis Naughten TD has written to Minister Pascal Donohoe asking him to take the same approach to routing the greenway West of the Shannon as that taken on the eastern side of the river.
“The fundamental problem with the routing of the greenway through County Galway is that a different approach has been taken to the route selection on the eastern side of the Shannon where it was determined by publicly owned lands along the canal and a disused railway,” explained Denis Naughten.
“Once the project crossed the Shannon the focus was on the use of private lands, rather than those already in the control of the State. Between Athlone and Ballinasloe significant progress has been made by utilising Bord Na Mona bogs along with CIE lands, Coillte forestry, Land Commission holdings and an old famine road, which now form the backbone for the proposed cycleway between the two towns.
“With Bord na Mona now commencing its withdrawal from peat extraction for energy, it provides further opportunities to access additional State owned lands for the construction of the greenway between Ballinasloe and Galway. There are bogs controlled by Bord na Mona, which are no longer in production or that never went into production, which can assist in facilitating an agreed greenway route through County Galway, and these need to be explored.”
Denis Naughten added: “It’s about time that we rediscover disused canals, rail lines and abandoned famine roads, which could help to resolve the current blockage in routing the greenway between Ballinasloe and Galway.
“Over the coming days the Department of Transport & Tourism will consider if it is to proceed with the greenway to Galway or abandon the project in Athlone where it currently ends. I believe this greenway can be a huge economic boost to Ballinasloe and East Galway and I will continue to push the Minister to go back to the drawing board and explore alternative, viable routes through County Galway,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Thank you for following up on the recent points which I raised with you on the floor of Dail Eireann with regard to the greenway though County Galway.
Minister, I’m firmly of the view that the current impasse can be resolved by taking a step back from the existing route and instead determine the route alignment by mapping the public lands held by Bord Na Mona, Coillte, the National Parks & Wildlife Service and the former Land Commission. In tandem with that, existing public rights of way that are currently disused should be included on such a mapping project. This could then be used to select the preferred corridor, which would include as many tourist attractions/features as possible.
Such an approach would significantly reduce the impact of the greenway on productive farms, and I believe can provide a solution that would successfully deliver the Dublin to Galway cycleway.
It should be noted that this formula has already been used on the Dublin to Athlone section of the greenway and a similar approach has assisted in making significant progress between Athlone & Ballinasloe where Bord Na Mona bogs, along with CIE lands, Coillte forestry, Land Commission holdings and an old famine road now form the backbone for the proposed cycleway between the two towns.
As I’ve stated in the past, the fundamental problem with the routing of the greenway through County Galway is that a different approach has been taken to the route selection on the wester side of the Shannon to that taken on the eastern side.I find this approach hugely frustrating, because I believe that there is an acceptable solution available that will achieve the objective for everybody involved.
Just to show you what I mean, I’m attaching two photo of a disused Bord na Mona rail line (one a westerly view and one an easterly view) which runs through East Galway. While this section may not ultimately form part of the route, it shows the potential that is available to the State, particularly now that Bord na Mona have decided to pull out of peat production over the coming 10-15 years.
Minister you have taken on board my suggestions in the past with regard to the Phoenix Park rail tunnel, and I would now urge you to do the same here.
At this stage, I don’t believe that you have anything to lose and I will make myself available at any stage to sit down with you & your officials to talk through my proposal.
Denis Naughten TD