The IFA delegation was led by IFA North Cork Chairman Pat O’Keeffe and IFA Waterford Chairman John Heffernan. Pat O’Keeffe said: “IFA made it abundantly clear to both County Councils that the current proposed Greenway will sever and divide most of the farms along the route and this is totally unacceptable. Severance and division of farms will not work and must be reviewed by the Councils”.
It emerged at the meeting that the proposed Greenway would be made up of 88% private, active farmland and only 12% public lands. Farmers now own and use most of the land where the abandoned railway line existed. It’s part of their farm and in many cases includes private houses and farmyards.
John Heffernan said: “It appears that the Councils and project promoters did not initially realise that the old, abandoned railway line is long gone and this land is now active farmland in private ownership, making it totally unsuitable for a Greenway”.
Both County Councils indicated that based on their site visits over recent weeks and the information and views provided by the IFA and farmers, they will have to take these concerns on board and reassess.
Pat O’Keeffe told the Councils that IFA recently organised two public meetings attended by up to 250 farmers in Fermoy and Ballyduff. “There was real anger and frustration expressed at these meetings 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.”
Pat O’Keeffe said the meeting with Cork and Waterford County Council was very useful as the IFA provided the project team with an in-depth outline of the fears and concerns of farmers regarding the proposed Greenway and how it could impact very significantly on farmers and their property and businesses.
The IFA team pointed out to the Councils that IFA is opposed to any severance of farms or compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for amenity projects like Greenways. The IFA has negotiated a Code of Best Practice for Greenways with the Government and both issues are well flagged in the code. Severance must be avoided and Voluntary Land Purchase agreements must take precedence over CPOs. Pat O’Keeffe said full and proper consultation with farmers is critical and he invited both Cork and Waterford County Councils to attend future IFA public meetings on the project.