Oral hearing told greenway more lucrative than farming for landowners

Kerry County Council says landowners on a proposed greenway will earn more from the greenway than from farming.

The claim was made during the first day of an oral hearing into the proposed South Kerry Greenway, which is taking place in the Manor West Hotel in Tralee.

Kerry County Council decided to acquire the lands needed by compulsory purchase order for the proposed 32-kilometre route, following failure to secure agreement with nearly 200 landowners.

Over 100 people attended the opening day of An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearing into the proposed South Kerry Greenway.

The route comprises 222 holdings, 160 of which are agricultural holdings, with 197 landowners in total.

Inspector Karla McBride, who is chairing the hearing, said the agenda for this week will focus on the greenway application, while the CPO will be discussed next week.

Senior Executive Engineer with Kerry County Council – and Project Manager for the scheme – Conor Culloo presented the majority of the local authority’s information today.

He spoke of the economic and social need for the greenway, saying Census data shows there are fewer younger people and more older people along the route relative to the rest of the county.

Mr Culloo also said that, according to a deprivation index, Cahersiveen and surrounding areas have not experienced a rise in affluence, unlike the rest of the county and country.

His report says all affected landowners will receive an annual minimum payment of €300, in addition to €2/m for the length of greenway that passes through the landowners’ holdings; it is considered this payment will exceed potential agricultural earnings from the land used for this project.

Agronomist Diarmuid O’Sullivan, who conducted surveys with 29 agricultural landowners, also said the maintenance payment will more than compensate for these losses.

However, he didn’t examine individual farmer’s current incomes when coming to that conclusion.

The hearing continues tomorrow.