*Lough Derg as visible from the hills of East Clare. 

A PREFERRED route for the Limerick to Scariff Greenway will be finalised in May.

Waterways Ireland, together with Clare County Council and Limerick City and County Council are working to develop a Limerick to Scariff Greenway which is expected to cover a distance of 43 kilometres. Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and ESB are also involved in the project.

Identified as a signature project in the Shannon Tourism Masterplan, the proposed greenway would provide a gateway to and from the heart of Limerick City to Lough Derg and the Shannon. Subject to the selection of the preferred route, the proposed greenway would link Limerick City to Scariff with connections to nearby villages and towns such as Clonlara, O’Briensbridge, Killaloe, Ogonnolloe and Tuamgraney.

Western Regional Manager with Waterways Ireland, Brian Treacy briefed elected members of the Killaloe Municipal District last Wednesday on their progress to date. The concept and feasibility of the project has been complete with Clandillon Civil Consulting have been appointed to conduct a feasibility and constraints study plus options selection.

A total of 158 submissions have been received since route options were publicly discussed, Treacy outlined. “Each of those fed into analysis on each of the routes, we have an emerging preferred corridor and preferred route corridor report drafted and reviewed by the steering group,” he said. TII have undertaken a peer review with actions identified as part of this to be addressed over the next four to five weeks.

Primary constraints encountered to date include ecological issues along the River Shannon, Parteen Basin and Lough Derg which have resulted in ruling out the use of riverbanks and shorelines along the Greenway. ESB have flagged concerns in respect to maintenance that may be required for facilities they own.

On the R463 “innovative thinking” is required to deal with a cross-section of constraints along roads and existing bridges, Brian flagged such as topography and a vertical gradient on the route between Killaloe and Tuamgraney. “We are trying our best to avoid using private land,” he stated.

Next steps to be undertaken by Waterways Ireland for the Greenway include addressing the additional information requested by TII, finalising the preferred emerging route corridor, holding public consultation evenings to present this preferred route in Scariff, Killaloe and Limerick. These public consultation events are likely to be held in May. An option selection report and project appraisal report have to be completed plus a tender for phase three detailed design and environmental evaluation.

Cllr Pat Burke (FG) who tabled a motion to receive an update on the Greenway explained, “as a farmer myself and coincidentally farming on shores of Lough Derg by Dromaan Harbour I get calls from farmers either side of Killaloe on this project which led me to put down the motion”.

Not having a link with Inis Cealtra remains an issue, Cllr Burke flagged. “The one thing I’ve always said about this project since it was mooted back in the day is that if somebody gets on a bike in Limerick and gets on a bike to Scariff and asks how to get Inis Cealtra, I think it is stopping short and that is a critical point”. He added, “It is a pity it hasn’t happened and why I don’t know”.

Momentum behind the project seems to be reducing, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) observed. “There was more momentum the last time you were here but you had to go back to the drawing board because Clonlara and the ESB delayed it in my view”. Engagement with the farming community is key, he stressed, “I would encourage you to engage with farming bodies locally” and Cllr Burke reiterated this, “if you don’t engage with them they will engage with you”.

Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe MD, Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) expected to see “some wonderful collaboration” between Cllr Hayes and Cllr Burke in the coming months on the subject with Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) suggesting the duo “have a pact between them”.

Mayor of Clare, Cllr Cooney questioned if the Waterways Ireland officials felt 158 submission was a big amount to receive to which Treacy replied, “no because a lot of them are positive, there was some concerns but not seen as massive”. Cllr Cooney said, “That is positive for the project, I’m sure the people who contacted me with concerns that they have will be taken into account”.

Responsibility for maintenance has not been finalised, Treacy revealed in response to further questioning from Cllr Cooney. “That is a strong topic, ourselves and the local authorities will have to look at that when we get to development stage. There isn’t a detailed plan for that at this moment in time. We will look after our own lands”.

Having the Limerick to Scariff Greenway will be “a game-changer,” Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) predicted. Opportunities for start-up businesses along the route were questioned by the Kilmurry representative, “As part of work we’re doing we’re keen to engage with any activity provider, we’d like to see we can link in with the town,” Brian replied.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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