Landowners impacted by the proposed greenway from Westport to Murrisk have insisted that they will take legal action to oppose the development.

Around 43 owners of private land, as well as 26 different commonage owners, will be impacted by the ‘emerging preferred option’ which has been chosen for the 6km route.

The new route, which was chosen by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and Mayo County Council, goes away from the other possible route that ran along the main road between Westport and Murrisk.

Instead, the route chosen travels largely through farmland and skirts along the lower slopes of Croagh Patrick to the village of Murrisk.

However, landowners along the “preferred” route remain totally opposed to the greenway and are determined to halt the development.

They claim that there has been no direct communication between TII and Mayo County Council and property owners who will be impacted by the proposed route.

Peter Shanley of the protest group formed to represent local landowners claimed that he did not realise that his own property was affected by the proposed route until he attended an information meeting organised by the council.

“The county council know the folio numbers of all the lands the route is going through; there is no reason why they can’t contact the landowners directly,” he claimed.

The local protest group also insists that the authorities have breached the code of best practice for national and regional greenways, which was agreed between TII and IFA.

The agreement stipulates that the greenway route should travel along the boundary of fields, if at all possible.

“The route here is going directly through the fields. There has been no effort to keep to the boundaries,” Shanley said.

However, these assertions were challenged by Mayo County Council. In reply to queries from the Irish Farmers Journal, it insisted that it has “written to all landowners involved” in the greenway.

“Where possible the emerging preferred route is running along existing boundaries and with further consultation/engagement it is possible to adjust the emerging route,” the council added.

While the council claims the greenway will boost tourism and employment in the area, Shanley contends that the route chosen will put a number of locals out of farming.

“We are not talking of large farms here. You are talking about small hill farmers. If you run a greenway through their silage grounds then they’re gone,” he maintained.

The group insisted that it was not against the greenway, and has called for it to be developed along an existing cycle lane on the main road from Westport to Murrisk. The INHFA has insisted that compulsory purchase orders (CPO) should never be used to acquire land for greenways.

“CPOs should only ever be used for critical national infrastructure,” said INHFA president Vincent Roddy.