Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said he is confident that funding will be made available for the South Kerry Greenway to ensure that the project will get off the ground.
e said while significant funds would be needed given the complexity of the project, it would be worth the expense considering the importance of the route, to the county and country.
“Considering how inflation has raised significantly since then in construction, and how some of the work on the viaduct tunnel bridges would probably be more significant than on an ordinary route, one can see how it would be expensive,” he said. “Transport Infrastructure Ireland has a critical role to play in this. Its designation, working with local authorities, to have the responsibility of rolling out of this national network of greenways was made quite deliberately. Transport Infrastructure Ireland is one of our best delivery agents. It tends to deliver projects on time and on budget.
“I hope and expect that any funding requests submitted by Kerry County Council to deliver this stunning greenway will meet the criteria set out in the public spending code and that the TII will determine it appropriate to fund these. I look forward to cycling on the greenway in the coming years, as I have done in that neck of the woods for many decade,” he told the Dáil this week following a call from Deputy Brendan Griffin for funding to be allocated to the South Kerry Greenway as soon as possible.
“We will have to spend money on the railway section because it is very special, but the intention is to complete the overall network in a way that does not cost the earth,” the Minister said.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Griffin said the project would hopefully be given the “ultimate green light” soon.
He said, given that most of the hurdles are now cleared, that funding is the next step.
“We have cleared the latest hurdle through the most recent decision of the High Court to rule in favour of the greenway project. I am therefore here again tonight to reiterate the requirement for funding for the south Kerry greenway, which will be an iconic and world-class greenway once it is constructed. I am very hopeful we will have the ultimate green light in the very near future in completing the planning process for the initial and substantive phases of the greenway,” he said.
He said any funding allocated would be returned to the Exchequer through the value of this project to the region.
“As the Minister knows, it will require substantial up-front investment and I would say in excess of €20million will be required. My understanding is the funding would be delivered under the new model through Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, and that is something that will involve the Minister’s Department. I hope it can involve a Government decision as the project will be of national importance. It will not just be a local or regional project,” he said.
“I know the Minister is very passionate about this and he knows the territory well. He is very familiar with it. When we spoke last year, I know he was very passionate about the project and any time I speak with him in the corridors, I can tell he gets cycling. This project will be transformative for the entire region and marketable as a national project internationally. We should bear in mind that if the up-front cost is in excess of €20million, much of that will come back to the Exchequer in the construction phase. I am very confident, as all our research indicates, that within a very short time the revenue generated by this project will far outweigh any State investment required. I ask the Minister to make provision for the construction funding that will be required for the south Kerry greenway.”
He said this project will be a ‘symbol of hope’ for a region that has suffered economic decline over decades, particularly in the last 20 years.
“The return of the greenway could be another symbol of hope and real economic prosperity. It is so important to this part of the county, including places like Glenbeigh, Kells, Foilmore, Cahersiveen, Reenard, Valentia Island and the whole of south Kerry.”
Minister Ryan also said that a significant portion of the original funding allocated to Kerry County Council for the project remains unclaimed. Some €3.46 million was allocated in April 2014 and a further €415,000 was issued in the same year for the section in Reenard. Some of that amount is in dormant accounts waiting to be used.