RESIDENTS and landowners opposed to the proposed new walkway along the old railway line from Dungarvan to Waterford, have accused the County Council of “tyranny” over 70 families they say will be badly affected by the plan.
The ‘Ballinroad to Kilmeaden’ group have branded the walkway as “stupendous” and say the Council appears to have lost all respect for the well-being of those living in the vicinity of the line. At a recent meeting, county councillors voted by a majority of 13 to 9 to proceed with phase one of the walkway from Ballinroad Cross to the level crossing in the townland of Durrow (on the Dungarvan end).
The vote came following a hour-long debate in the Council Chambers where nearly half the councillors - including Liam Brasil from Kilmac, Kieran O’Riain from Ballymacarbry and Kilmeaden’s Pat Leahy - voiced their stringent opposition to the plans based on the concerns of locals residents and landowners.
A total of 55 objections/submissions were received when the phase one plans went on public display.
Forty-two of those were from people purporting to be members of the ‘Ballinroad to Kilmeaden’ group either claiming ownership of part of the lands or expressing concerns about issues such as trespassing, fencing and insurance.
Following the outcome of the meeting, the group of residents and landowners have now lambasted the decision to proceed with the project.
They’re opposed to the walkway for an “abundance of reasons” they say.
Their safety, security and peace of mind would be at risk; anti-social behaviour would become a big problem; temporary caravan-type camp sites would continually be set up along it; the cost and maintenance would be
“enormous” and there could even be frequent confrontations between residents/farmers and walk-ers if “nerves became frayed”.
“Thankfully there are literally dozens of walkways in Co. Waterford at present which a lot of us avail of,” said the group’s chairman, Pat Fennell. “An additional and expensive walkway is not required and is against the declared wishes of the vast majority of people living on and adjoining the line.
He said the plan of the County Council was, in essence, a form of tyranny.
“Over 70 families will be badly affected by this. Most of it (the walkway) is concealed and concealed walkways are dangerous places.
Has the County Council lost all respect whatsoever for the wellbeing of these families? Did those council-lors who voted for the walkway not realise that this imposition is something that not only this generation of residents and farmers will have to cope with but so will all future generations.”
“How can any local authority be so reckless in the trampling on the rights and dignity of over 70 families - shame on you.”
“Double shame on you for pretending that tourists would come to Waterford to view the fields and fences of Durrow and Faha from a railway line.
Instead a fraction of the money earmarked for this stupendous walkway should be spent on the maintenance and upkeep of existing walkways which are overgrown and vandalised in many areas,” he said, adding that some local walking clubs had already contacted residents to assure them they would not be using the walkway in respect of their privacy.
At the Council meeting where the vote was taken, the Council’s Director of Community and Enterprise Brian White said the authority had made every effort to consult with residents and landowners and address their concerns.
Meanwhile, County Manager Ray O’Dwyer assured that the plug would be pulled on the project if it didn’t prove as successful as was hoped.
© Waterford News and Star