Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has decided to “pause further development” on the Galway and Roscommon section of the Galway-Dublin Greenway because of local farmers’ unrest with the project.
It was planned that the 276 km route, from coast to coast, would be the country’s first inter-city greenway in a proposed national network.
The Dublin to Athlone section is proceeding as planned because its route travels primarily along a disused railway line and old canal paths.
However, it was intended that the Athlone-Galway section would bypass vast swathes of privately owned farmland, which angered locals.
In a statement last Friday, Minister Donohoe said that he had decided to halt this section “to allow time for all involved to reflect on the issues that have been raised locally about the project”.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport said that, due to funding limitations, it had decided to pause the Galway/Roscommon segment and to progress the Kildare/Meath section, which is shovel ready, instead.
The Minister said: “Having received the landowner consultation report from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), it is clear that there are significant concerns among communities in Galway and Roscommon, along the preferred route, about the impact the Greenway will have on them.”
He said his decision to temporarily scrap the project was also “to give consideration to the possibility of developing a new route that works locally and has the support of key landowners”.
Many section of the greenway have been opened to date, the part recent part being the Mullingar to Athlone section in recent weeks.
The Minister said that the Government remained committed to providing a world-class greenway that would attract touring cyclists to Ireland.
“Research has shown that there are hundreds of thousands of tourists who wish to go on cycling holidays who chose other countries over Ireland if we do not provide an offering with off-road, scenic routes,” he said.