*Cyclists on the Mayo Greenway in Westport.
West Clare’s Greenway will “surpass anything” offered by their Waterford and Mayo equivalents, key personnel behind the planned project have stated.
A fee of €80m is estimated as the total cost for the construction of the West Clare Greenway which is envisaged to be an 85km stretch. The route will travel from Ennis as far as Kilkee travelling through Corofin, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Miltown Malbay, Quilty and Doonbeg along the way.
Addressing councillors at Tuesday’s meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, senior engineer in the Project Management Office of Clare County Council, Sean Lenihan stated, “What we can offer in Clare will far surpass anything Waterford or Mayo can offer”. He detailed that the visual impact and experience of the Greenway can result in “a wonderful wonderful project”.
Newly appointed Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP) expressed his satisfaction with how the planned Greenway will connect towns and villages. “Nobody wants a Greenway that you have to travel in a car to get to, for it to really work well and return investment to communities locally it really needs to be in the right place,” Lenihan acknowledged. Communication with private landowners is ongoing. He stressed that extensive engagement, consultation and buy-in from local landowners would be key to the success of the project.
“We’ve 1.6 million people coming to the Cliffs, this will be another Cliffs in that it will be a huge attraction,” Lenihan predicted.
Costs are currently estimated a €600,000 per km which allows for the acquisition of land and developing a universally accessible surface. There is a possibility that the planned 86km route could be extended to 110km. “We mentioned the figure of €40m before, it will probably be €80m if we are to do that right,” he revealed. €255,000 was recently allocated by the Department of Transport under the Carbon Tax Fund to move the project forward.
Supporting the plans, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) predicted that the next budget could stall the progress of the Greenway. “Every time I hear costs, I think of the next budget, we have to adjust the body for a serious dose of shivers, we have to face reality, we are going to be hit hard. A lot of the ambitious projects are going to be put on hold. We have to expect the unexpected here”.
Cllr Shane Talty (FF) queried if was accurate to say that the project completion was at least a decade away. The emphasis on connecting communities was praised by Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF), “a lot of the time we develop a tourism product without thinking of the overall benefit”.
Focus is currently on the 20km run from Kilkee to Moyasta, Lenihan outlined. “If it becomes too onerous to develop a priority section, we may to move elsewhere and move it up a bit to Lahinch or Quilty”.
Part of the delegation that visited the Waterford Greenway, Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) believed, “We’re on the right track”. He said that Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) would have a key role to play in helping the project to materialise. “The Greenway is the future,” Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) declared as he urged Council officials to continue to keep the pressure on with regard to the Greenway.