1,000 submissions in support of east Mayo greenway
THERE has been an overwhelming show of public support for a greenway on the old railway line from Charlestown to Claremorris, which has been closed for over 40 years.
The draft Mayo County Development Plan 2021 - 2027 closed for submissions on March 16, but not before it attracted what has been described as an 'unprecedented' level of submissions seeking the provision of a greenway on the Western Transport Corridor through the east of the county.
Of the 1,265 submissions on the plan, some 1,000 sought the development of a greenway on the route, in order to protect this publicly-owned asset for future rail use, and to provide tourism jobs and local amenity now.
Almost 80% of all submissions on the county plan asked for a greenway on the route.
And the East Mayo Greenway Group have highlighted how the Department of Transport have redefined the closed railway as a 'transport corridor' not just a railway.
The campaign has noted two submissions 'of particular note'.
Irish Rail, the owners of the closed route, told Mayo County Council they will support a greenway on the transport corridor with full support for the 'section north of Claremorris'. It is their view that a greenway will protect the route from loss to state ownership until such future time as a railway might be possible.
Campaigners say that the support of Irish Rail is a significant milestone in their attempts to persuade Mayo County Council to apply for the available funding for the project.
The other important submission they highlighted came from the Department of Transport, (DOT) who asked the council to consider the use of the closed railway as a greenway until such future time as a railway might be possible.
The department have also redefined the closed route as a 'transport corridor', not just a railway, that could be used as a greenway until such time as a railway might be possible.
East Mayo Greenway Group spokesman Michael Maye said these two submissions were game changers.
“Given that Irish Rail owns the asset, and DOT controls greenway funding,” he said, “and that they also frame national rail policy, their submissions to Mayo County Council now make this project a no-brainer.”
He continued: “The redefinition of the route by the department as a transport corridor rather than solely as a railway line changes the agenda.”
Only Mayo County Council now stands in the way of a greenway between Claremorris and Charlestown, he said.
The owners of the transport corridor and the funding body both support the project, and Mayo County Council just have to apply for the money.
“Everyone with any interest in this project needs to read those two submissions to realise the greenway is now the only realistic option for the foreseeable future,” he added.
David Malee, chairman of the East Mayo Greenway Group, commented: “All councillors and TDs in Mayo now need to get behind this project to give the population of east Mayo and the wider region what they want.
“The council needs to apply for and draw down central funding that is clearly available, while it is still available. What is stopping them?”