Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions
I seem to be spending more time discussing the issues in Athlone than anywhere else when I am answering questions on this particular body, partly, through no fault of Deputy Troy, because I seem to be familiar with those issues. This greenway is a good litmus test. It is a good question and I will address it.
My Department is developing a new strategy to set out a cohesive and forward-looking approach to the development, funding and promotion of greenways. As part of this process my Department will consult all stakeholders in the coming months. This proposed strategy will include a recommended approach to be taken by authorities and agencies tasked with delivering greenway infrastructure where engagement and consultation with landowners is required and, when finalised, will inform the approach to be taken to progress delivery of the section of the Galway to Dublin greenway between Athlone and Galway.
I was pleased to be in a position to award funding in July this year to a number of greenways where good progress was being made. This included funding for sections of the Galway to Dublin greenway in counties Kildare and Meath. The focus of this funding allocation was for those sections of the Galway to Dublin greenway where planning permission is in place and I expect that by the end of 2017 this will have facilitated progress on construction to the extent that it will be possible to cycle from Maynooth to Athlone entirely on segregated high-quality greenway.
I remain committed to achieving the delivery of this coast-to-coast greenway that will help to position Ireland as a destination for cycling holidays. I understand that the number of tourists cycling while on holiday in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years, from 66,000 in 2009 to more than 200,000 in 2015. While this is a small percentage of the total numbers visiting Ireland, it shows that there is a growing market for cycling tourism and this can be further exploited by a cohesive approach to the future development of greenways which I intend to pursue through the development of a new greenways strategy. I am determined to see this greenway in being and to clear it up.