Kerry County Council denies it had decided on the greenway route prior to meeting landowners

Kerry County Council is denying it had decided on the greenway route prior to meeting landowners.

The local authority was responding to claims from barrister Margaret Heavey, who was speaking during the sixth day of An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearing into the proposed South Kerry Greenway.

The barrister is representing landowner James Clifford.

It’s day six of the oral hearing and the focus so far this week has been on coastal erosion, the definition of a roadway, population declines and a claimed lack of negotiation between the council and landowners.

In relation to the latter, Senior Engineer with Kerry County Council Tom Sheehy met with James Clifford in 2014.

Mr Sheehy claimed he asked the landowner if the route could go along near the boundaries and across the bottom of the lands; Mr Clifford said that he “would not allow greenway on his lands”, according to the engineer.

Barrister Margaret Heavey asked the council why her client wasn’t made aware of alternative routes following this meeting; Mr Sheehy said alternative routes were drawn up, however, they were not presented to Mr Clifford.

In August of 2018, the alternative routes were listed in an environmental report; at this time, the route had been decided.

Mr Sheehy denied he, and by extension Kerry County Council, had decided on the route prior to meeting the landowner in 2014.

Ms Heavey added her client only saw the proposed alternatives for the first time this morning, four-and-a-half years after the council claimed they were made publicly available; council representative Esmond Keane said he had a written document from the landowner contradicting this.