Last week, I raised the need for the interested people and groups to engage in the consultation process for the proposed greenway from Galway City to Oughterard. Consultation is open until March 22nd for this vital asset for Connemara and the City.
I previously asked for a debate on the positive issues of blueways, greenways and active walking schemes across the country. The Galway city to Oughterard greenway has taken a turn. It has been reset. It is a step backwards to go forwards. The greenway has been funded twice, as early as 2014, and there were issues with acquisition of land and engagement with landowners. The county council, in conjunction with Galway City Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and AECOM, which is a consultancy firm, have re-established the process and gone out to consultation. I urge people to engage with the consultation questionnaire, which is on galwaytooughterardgreenway.ie. That will be open until 22 March 2022.
I urge people with an interest in this area to make a submission about their preferred choice of route. This is part of a constraint study, which will cover an area from Galway to Barna and along the N59 towards Oughterard. There is a starting point in Fisheries Field and a finishing point in Oughterard town. After that, it is open to the engagement and constraint studies on this important area.
I fully support the greenway development. I believe it will be a game changer for tourism and for local people engaging in exercise and recreation. Even more importantly, I think it will be a game changer with regard to commuting. There are many people in my area, especially Moycullen and Rosscahill, who might work in the university or the hospital, and indeed students who attend National University of Ireland, Galway, or Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. It would be a game changer for them to be able to cycle to work or university along the greenway, in through Galway city and Fisheries Field. I urge people to get involved.
We saw the south Kerry case in the Supreme Court two weeks ago. It was a game changer in ensuring that greenways are viewed as critical infrastructure and can be treated in the same way as road projects with regard to allowing access to complete a project. Two other developments have happened in the last years too. The greenway strategy, initiated by the former Minister, Shane Ross, has been completed and published.
There has also been engagement with landowners, which has been a pivotal part of the project, and compensation for landowners has been signed up to by farm bodies. That will give comfort to farmers and landowners when they are engaging with the local authority that there is a base price in delivering this public good, as it were. I firmly support the greenway. I hope that the reset of the project can be progressed as quickly as possible. I urge people to engage with the public consultation and with the Galway to Oughterard greenway website, connemaragreenway.ie.