Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
195. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that an organisation (details supplied) is working to try and agree a code of best practice for the Athlone to Galway and other regional and national greenways with TII and others; his views on whether an essential aspect of the code is the use of voluntary land acquisition agreements as opposed to compulsory purchase orders in circumstances in which private lands may need to be acquired; his further views on whether a key element for the success of the voluntary land acquisition agreement approach is the payment of an adequate ex-gratia Greenway sustainability goodwill payment to the farmers affected; if he will meet the organisation on the issues involved with a view to finding a satisfactory outcome and securing farmers’ goodwill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55934/21]
I am aware of the work being carried out on the Code of Best Practice for National and Regional Greenways by all three of the farming representative bodies and other stakeholders such as Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Rural Recreation Officers, the Department of Rural and Community Development and Local Authorities. I had hoped that the technical code itself would have been agreed by all stakeholders at the meeting in Mullingar last week, but unfortunately that did not occur.
I understand that discussions are ongoing between TII and the ICSA, ICMSA and the IFA in relation to seeking an agreement on the level of the Greenways Sustainability Payment to be paid to landowners. I would hope that agreement can be reached in the near future so that progress on creating the first coast-to-coast Greenway from Galway to Dublin can be achieved in the coming years.
I understand that the whole thrust of the Code is to try and maximise the amount of voluntary land acquisition that takes place and that there is as much consultation as possible between landowners and the project promoters so that an agreed route can be found that minimises the impact on landowners business operations.
In conclusion, it is important to note that these discussions have been ongoing for over 2 years and that the first request for a Code to be developed was made in July 2017 when the Greenways Strategy was being developed. I would hope that all parties involved will work diligently to finalise this matter without further delay.