February 23, 2024
Bellaghy-Collooney Greenway must remain a safe distance from rail line – MacManus

Bellaghy-Collooney Greenway must remain a safe distance from rail line – MacManus

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has urged Sligo County Council to ensure that the proposed Bellaghy-Collooney Greenway is developed a safe distance from the unused railway line. The Midlands Northwest representative was speaking after making a submission to the second public consultation being held on the project.

MEP MacManus said:
“As in my submission to the first public consultation I have outlined that I fully support the development of greenways in Sligo and across my constituency, given their health, recreational and tourism benefits”

“I support the concept of a greenway from Collooney to Bellaghy, provided that it is a safe distance from the disused Western Rail Corridor. Some of the preferred route corridors identified by the project team follow the route of the disused rail line and I would be concerned about any attempt to develop a greenway on the railway line itself.”

“The all-island rail review has recommended the reopening of the section of the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Claremorris and this project is expected to be delivered in the coming years. Given this, it is very likely that in the medium term the remaining section of the line from Claremorris to Collooney will also be reopened and Sinn Féin are fully committed to delivering this project in Government.”

“If a greenway is constructed on the railway line it would make it much more difficult for the line to be brought back into use. It certainly would not protect the line for future use as some have claimed, as once you open a recreational amenity for a community it would become difficult to remove or change its use. Furthermore it means that the greenway itself has no guaranteed permanence, and could be lost completely if and when the railway line reopens.”

“I have also drawn Sligo County Council’s project team attention to comments made by the Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, Jim Meade, who recently told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport that Iarnród Éireann supports keeping the railway from Collooney to Claremorris for rail traffic and “not for anything else”. 

“It is important too to note that the development of passenger and freight services on the Western Rail Corridor to serve Mayo and Sligo is a Statutory Objective of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly’s Regional and Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES). The RSES supersedes County Development Plans and I have expressed my view that development of a greenway on the rail line contravenes the RSES for our region.

“Therefore I believe it is clear that development of a greenway on the railway line is not feasible, and I have urged the Council to take this into account as the project progresses. The sensible solution here is to ensure that the greenway is a safe distance from the railway line so that both pieces of infrastructure can be delivered for the benefit of the local community. ENDS

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