IF the vision of creating a new Greenway route linking Birr and Roscrea Castles is to become a reality it will require the cooperation of numerous landowners along the route, who to date have not been consulted about the project.
The idea of creating the new route for joggers and cyclists linking the heritage towns of Birr and Roscrea, that would wind through the beautiful Midlands countryside and link the town’s Castles, succeeded in capturing the imagination of local people in both towns once news of the project spread last October and was greeted with almost unanimous approval.
If created, the proposed Greenway is anticipated to transform the tourism potential of both towns, capitalising on the boom in popularity of recreational outdoor pursuits complementing the wealth of historical attractions already in both towns.
The idea, which had been mooted almost a decade ago and at the time suggested using the now defunct route once taken by the railroad which linked Birr and Roscrea, was ressurected this year by Roscrea Councillor and Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District for the Roscrea area, Michael Smith (FF).
Earlier this month local representatives from Offaly and North Tipperary met to discuss the project, which has been described as “in the embryonic stages,” and some local Councillors aired concerns that landowners have not been consulted on an issue which will “have major consequences for them.”
“I believe the Greenway is a great idea and would be great for both towns, but there are a lot of landowners who aren’t happy that there was no consultation about this whatsoever,” Cllr. Shane Lee (Ind), told the monthly meeting of the Municipal Council.
“The farmers want to be involved and want to know if there has been any talks about this and they want to be kept updated about it,” Cllr. Lee said.
“I was approached by a landowner who heard there are meetings taking place and the recent media coverage has a lot of farmers worried,” Cllr. Lee told the meeting.
Cllr. Noel Coonan (FG) interjected that the project “could also be of great benefit to the whole agricultural community,” and stressed there must be cooperation from all concerned groups and individuals.
“The landowners are the number one priority and there will be nothing forced on them,” Cllr. Coonan said.
Cllr. Smith, who has spearheaded the project since the idea of creating the Greenway resurfaced, said he wanted to assure the public that no decisions on routes have been taken, so consulting landowners in the early stages would “not benefit anybody.”
“The idea of the Greenway between Roscrea and Birr is worth exploring. We can’t consult the landowners until there is a route chosen and there is no point in talking to landowners until there is a route,” Cllr. Smith said.
Describing the project “at a very embryonic stage,” Cllr. Smith said recent meetings with members of Offaly County Council to discuss the project were beneficial, but he stressed “at no point did anyone say where it will go and along what route.”