IFA national environment chairman Thomas Cooney has called on Kerry County Council to “pull back from their divisive and heavy-handed approach” to the development of a proposed cycle track and recreational route in South Kerry.
Addressing the oral hearing in Tralee today, he said, “IFA supports the development of recreational routes and recognises the role they play in promoting agri-tourism and economic activity in rural areas.”
Cooney said that many farmers impacted by Kerry County Council’s proposal feel misled and unheard.
“Eight years ago, farmers, in good faith, engaged constructively with the promoters of this project and received written assurance that CPOs would not be imposed.”
“Today, these same farmers feel isolated, with Kerry County Council pursuing farmers through the courts and using all avenues of the state including An Bord Pleanala, to impose a CPO on farmers,” Cooney added.
Kerry IFA chairman, Pat O’Driscoll, added, “Kerry County Council has failed to professionally engage with landowners impacted by this proposed cycle track and take on board alternative routing options put forward by farmers.”
In 2015, IFA wrote to Kerry County Council and asked them to appoint an agronomist to represent landowners concerns, as happens in other infrastructure projects.
“The Council ignored this request, and instead ploughed ahead with the use of the CPO sledge.”
“This put them in breach of the Government’s National Greenways Strategy and questions the validity of the application.”
“It’s about time everyone started to engage and refocus on delivering this greenway in a co-design collaborative way, rather than seeking to bulldoze it through.”