Offaly County Council Gives Go Ahead For Bike Trails

Thursday, 9 February 2017

OFFALY County Council's planning department followed the same route as their Laois counterparts by giving the green light to the proposed Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails last week.
The welcome news was announced on Friday afternoon and the development is set to become one of the largest tourism projects ever planned for the county.
The project, which granted a ten year permission to Coillte, requires a multi-million euro investment, with a commitment from several semi-state agencies and government alike.
Over 40,000 visitors are expected at the Mountain Bike Trails each year following an extensive study of the successful Ballyhoura Mountain Trails in County Limerick.
Peter Ormond, Manager of Mid Ireland Tourism has welcomed the news saying 'the midlands region has seen significant investment in tourism facilities over the last number of years and this development when completed will further enhance and showcase Laois/Offaly as a destination for outdoor activities.'
Furthermore the Fianna Fail Councillor stated 'I would like to compliment Coillte for bringing this concept to the planning stage and I hope they will be successful in securing the necessary funding to bring this project to fruition' adding that 'it's an exciting time for the region.'
While the Mountain Bike Trails will enhance tourism in the area along with the aid of Lough Boora Parklands, it is also expected to transform the local economy in South Offaly.
John Clendennen, Fine Gael County Councillor and a native of Kinnitty, stated the trails would 'have a massive impact for the locality, for Kinnitty, Birr and even Lough Boora Parklands.'
The development will consist of works at Kinnitty Castle and the proposed 32.2km of a 72.8km bike trail will be established within the County of Offaly.
As reported in last week's Tribune, a further 40km of the route was granted by Laois County Council as it will be developed on the Laois side of the Slieve Bloom Mountain range.
The two sets of trails are proposed to be linked by an 'on-road section along the R440 in the townland of Glenregan, Co. Offaly and Baunreagh, Co. Laois' according to the official planning record.
The proposed development's main facilities area will be inducted in two phases, phase one to be the temporary building used for bicycle hire, the construction of parking areas and a bike wash while phase two consists of a bicycle hire area at Castletown, Kinnitty.
Frank Bergin, Slieve Bloom Rural Development Co-operative said 'we're delighted to hear the news, it's great promotion for the mountain. It will be hoped that it willo start quickly, it can start in small parts and then develop.'
Asked about the effect the trails will have on the mountain, Frank explained 'the trails will be discreet, it'll be quite similar to the walking trails, it's about keeping with the mountain and what's there, the mountain is 400 million years old, it's great to have this facility.'


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