TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has been asked to directly intervene in an ongoing impasse involving a section of the preferred route for the Greenway project linking Limerick City with Scariff in East Clare.
The call came from Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara who said that although the ESB will facilitate the use of its lands in Killaloe, a pinch point remains over a section of the route at O’Briensbridge which he fears could delay the project.
The proposed Greenway will cross the River Shannon over the Black Bridge and follow the old Errina canal to Clonlara and O’Briensbridge and across publicly owned lands to Killaloe and onwards to Scariff.
Speaking in the Dáil last week Deputy McNamara told the Taoiseach that Waterways Ireland has developed a greenway running from Dublin to Athlone which will continue to Galway and on to Loughatorick, 11 km from the village of Scariff.
“There is an obvious potential to link it up to the Greenway from Scariff to Limerick, which would mean that a greenway from Dublin to Kerry or from Galway Bay to Kerry could become a reality.
“There is a pinch point at O’Briensbridge which is ironic because the village that was effectively bypassed by the Shannon scheme. That pinch point is the ESB and Parteen Weir, which is a fantastic project.
“The ESB has said that it cannot have a greenway with tourists going along its embankment. If the civil engineering capability existed 100 years ago to harness the River Shannon, the civil engineering capability exists now to overcome this minor point.”
Deputy McNamara stated, “The ESB wants it to go elsewhere and obtain land through a CPO. That is not the Waterways Ireland approach. It is the ESB approach.”
“The ESB needs to work more collaboratively. I acknowledge the ESB’s goodwill towards this, but it needs to work harder on it,”
He asked the Taoiseach to make sure that Waterways Ireland and the ESB work constructively together to overcome this “to ensure there is not an obstacle to what is a hugely exciting project”.
In response, Mr Varadkar confirmed that the project is at the stage where technical advisers are examining options for a preferred route and undertaking extensive stakeholder engagement.
“Proposals to allow the use of ESB lands for the greenway are currently being considered and further meetings are envisaged.”
“Waterways Ireland, Clare County Council and Limerick City and County Council are currently engaged in the option selection process. All reasonable route corridors will be examined and their costs, benefits and effects on the environment will be interrogated to identify a preferred option,” the Taoiseach added.