Dermot Keyes reports
An expanded regional cycle greenway, running from Rosslare to Abbeyside, which may also include a spur to Tramore, carries ‘enormous international potential’, according to Kilkenny County Council’s Director of Services for Roads.
Speaking at last Wednesday’s Piltown Municipal District meeting in Ferrybank, Simon Walton spoke about the exciting prospect of an unbroken stretch of cycleway, running through South Wexford, South Kilkenny and through to West Waterford.
“This is a project of huge potential for Kilkenny,” said Mr Walton, having spoken to Councillors about the environmental assessment Kilkenny County Council had carried out on the 22-kilometre disused rail link between Waterford and New Ross.
“When you consider the development of the Deise Greenway in Waterford, our own plans for the greenway to New Ross, as well as the plan to develop a greenway between Rosslare and New Ross, taking in the Barrow Blueway, it’s clear to me that we’re talking about a project with both national and international potential.”
Mr Walton added: “And when you consider all the talk in recent weeks about the possible appointment of a Minister for Rural Affairs in the next government, then it’s clear to me that there’s a huge opportunity for local communities and rural towns along to route to potentially prosper in the years ahead, as this route develops and beds in. And when one considers the success of the (42 kilometre) Western Greenway, then it’s clear that Kilkenny and the wider region could benefit tremendously over the next few years.”
During its ecological assessment screening report of the Waterford-New Ross line, Kilkenny County Council, Mr Walton said a total of 145 structures had been identified along the route. Nineteen of these structures “had been identified as having a moderate to high potential of holding bat roosts”. Incidentally, bat roosts, on the Suirside of Grannagh Castle, have prevented the Office of Public Works (OPW) from floodlighting the South Kilkenny landmark.
In addition to bat roosts, the Council also discovered three active badger sets and seven other sets in outlying areas from the line, which may not be in habitual use. Thirdly, plants described as “alien and invasive” had also been noted and would have to be appropriately dealt with in due course.
Councillors welcomed the depth of the Council’s advanced ecological survey, believing it will prove particularly valuable to locals when the public consultation process for the line comes into play in due course. Mr Walton added that it may be the third or fourth quarter of this year before further progress of the greenway “kicks off in earnest”.
It’s worth recalling that in June 2014, Waterford City and County Councillor Eddie Mulligan (FF) suggested the development of an extended greenway between Waterford and Rosslare.
The Deise Greenway will, hopefully, be fully open by the end of the summer and it’s hoped, in time, will form part of a national walking/cycling route that will eventually run between Dublin and Dungarvan.
Dermot Keyes reports