Talks with landowners on greenway extension to Louisburgh

NO landowner between Westport and Louisburgh has refused permission for permissive access to their property for a greenway.

The clarity was given by head of tourism Padraic Philbin at a Westport-Belmullet Municipal District meeting in an update on the proposed route.

In the coming months it is planned to identify different line options west of Lecanvey and to talk with landowners.

There is a desire among communities along the route to develop the Clew Bay greenway.

Mayo, he said, has enjoyed huge community and landowner buy-in in relation to greenways using the permissive access model. Sometimes people can facilitate it and other times they can't and the line of the route is drawn according to the line that becomes available.

The boost the greenway out to Louisburgh and Roonagh would give to jobs was highlighted by Councillor Christy Hyland. Louisburgh was sitting there waiting to take off.

This was a tedious process, said Councillor John O'Malley, and was worth doing properly. Landowners have rights and interests and they have to be respected, he said.

The difference with this route to the Westport-Achill greenway was that there was no existing track to go down.

He urged the council team to 'keep talking' with property owners.

Councillor Peter Flynn made the point that this project started six years ago and they had not advanced it in any shape or form.

They had not engaged by and large with landowners and that needed to change quickly. Talk to them and see what is possible and what is not. They needed clear timelines and realistic targets.

The project, he said, could be transformational and will put Mayo on the world map.

Mr. Philbin said the route has yet to be selected and designed and they are happy to go out and meet people.

There would not be land acquisitions. They were asking to be allowed to traverse people's land.

They were depending on goodwill and in most cases it comes. And if not, he said, there is usually a good reason why not.

Mr. Philbin was confident they would be able to deliver the route to Louisburgh.

On meeting people, he said a decision was made not to meet the public during Covid, many of whom were elderly.

It was a decision he stood over and while it slowed the scheme, they did not endanger anyone in the process.

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