Farmers and landowners based in the consultation zones for the Galway -Athlone Cycleway will be able to engage at any time with the Cycleway Project Team based in Ballinasloe in relation to the proposed Galway to Athlone Cycleway.
Senator Aisling Dolan is a strong advocate for the route corridors through South Roscommon along the Shannon and then to Ballinasloe and into East Galway.
‘Coming from a farming background, I know the importance of farmers concerns, we need to ensure that the Cycleway is only developed together with landowners and using publicly owned lands as much as possible. For example we have Bord na Móna boglands along the Grand Canal coming into Ballinasloe and Coillte forests and parks in Mountbellew and in Monivea as well. This can be achieved to make our towns and villages come alive as well in ways that work for everyone in especially our farmers who are the backbone of our rural communities
‘Agronomists to deliver a fair evaluation is crucial with good compensation for land. Strong fencing to ensure that dogs cannot enter fields and always kept on leads and chipped. We need people who use our cycleways to respect the areas they come through and this means good signage and communication for walkers.
‘I truly believe this will be a gamechanger for our region. Bringing safe places to walk and cycle for our families as well as a boost and potential for off-farm income with accommodation, food & craft industries – passing trade which will keep our local pub & shop open. With innovative possibilities for selling homemade wares there are huge opportunities for farmers and their families’
Just under 200 people attended two public information zoom meetings on the Green and Blue route corridors through Ballinasloe on the Galway to Athlone Cycleway this week hosted by Aisling Dolan, Senator for Roscommon-Galway. IFA Galway, local public representatives, community groups, farmers and families joined the online zoom call or dialled in to hear more information from the project team and ask questions. The Cycleway will eventually create a dedicated 270km Cycleway world class amenity for families, communities and tourists from Dublin to Galway city. There are five routes open for public consultation before 1st March 2021. The Fine Gael Senator is backing the North Green Route Number 1 and the Central Blue Route Number 3
Cian McGuinness from RPS Consultants, engineers on Galway to Athlone Cycleway project gave an overview on Cycleways at both meetings. The project team based in Ballinasloe also includes engineers from local authorities in Westmeath, Roscommon and Galway. Fintan O’Meara, engineer with Galway County Councils also contributed noting how the ‘Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)’ section on the website www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com has been recently updated with information on agronomists, land acquisition queries.
“Stage 2 consultation for the general public closes on 1st March 2021, however, landowners and farmers in the consultation areas can engage with us anytime and we look forward to talking to them. Once lockdown eases and with over six Project Liaison Officers, we will engage directly with the landowners before any final decision is made on a final emerging route corridor” said Fintan O’Meara.
Anne Mitchell, the Galway IFA Representative said: “There are positive benefits of cycleways for the region however we also have to acknowledge farmers and landowners concerns. I appreciated the opportunity to engage with the Cycleway Project Team.”
Senator Dolan said: “Public Liaison Officers will actively engage with landowners once public health guidelines allow. The public consultation areas are a few kilometres wide in areas. Find out how close your land is to a route corridor by entering your Eircode on the interactive map on www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com. Landowners and farmers can engage at any time with the project team even after the general consultation deadline of 1st March. Forms posted out to households by the Cycleway team can also be completed and returned by freepost.
‘In dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown we know how important it is to have safe places for our families to walk and cycle in our own areas and to have a level surface for older people, people with disabilities is vital for our region. More and more people are working from home and also able to take on more part-time farming as we can see from the queues to get the Green Cert. And this amenity can only add to our wellbeing and give us a space for everyone.’
Senator Dolan said the aim of these online meetings was to increase awareness of the Cycleway routes and encourage submissions from residents, community groups, schools, clubs and businesses and to encourage landowners to engage with the project team in Ballinasloe.
She encouraged farmers and landowners in the public consultation red zones on each route (to check Eircodes on the interactive map on website below) can make contact at any time even after the deadline of 1st March with the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (091) 509267. Further information on the five routes can be viewed at galwaytoathlonecycleway.com and submission guides for businesses and community groups can also be found at aislingdolan.org.