The serious concerns of farmers around the proposed Dungarvan to Mallow greenway were highlighted at a recent meeting between representatives from the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) and senior executives from Cork and Waterford county councils.
The IFA delegation, led by north Cork chair Pat O'Keeffe, and Waterford chair John Heffernan, expressed their dissatisfaction with the current proposed greenway, stating that it would sever and divide numerous farms along the designated route.
"Severance and division of farms will not work and must be reviewed by the councils,” O’Keeffe said.
It emerged at the meeting that the proposed greenway would stretch across 88% private, active farmland, with only 12% consisting of public lands.
The IFA stated that the councils and project promoters had overlooked the fact that the old abandoned railway line, intended for use in the greenway project, had been replaced by active farmland in private ownership, rendering it unsuitable for a greenway.
The IFA had previously organised public meetings in Fermoy and Ballyduff, attended by approximately 250 farmers.
Speaking of the farmers concerns, O’Keeffe said: “There was real anger and frustration expressed over the lack of proper consultation and engagement and the failure to understand and appreciate the impact of a greenway severing or dividing active farms.
"Many issues and concerns were raised, including privacy, security, litter, animal disease and wildlife and environment.”
In response to the concerns raised by the IFA and farmers, both county councils indicated that based on their site visits over recent weeks and the information and views provided that they will have to take these concerns on board and reassess.
The IFA reiterated its opposition to farm severance or compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for amenity projects such as greenways.
The organisation has negotiated a code of best practice for greenways with the Government, emphasising the need to avoid severance and prioritise voluntary land purchase agreements over CPOs.
O'Keeffe stressed the importance of comprehensive and meaningful consultation with farmers and extended an invitation to both Cork and Waterford county councils to attend future IFA public meetings on the project.