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t is, says East Coast Greenway Committee chairperson Ciarán Lally, the report that they’ve been waiting for.
Irish Rail have released their Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study, and Lally and co believe it brings their planned greenway from Greystones to Wicklow town one step closer to reality.
“It’s very positive news for us,” Lally says of the findings. “One of the main issues for us securing funding was the fact that the Arup report still wasn’t out yet. This should be a game-changer for us in regards to getting funding.”
Talking to The Wicklow Mick, Lally feels that a major obstacle is now out of the way. “Before the publication of the report,” he says, “people were afraid that a greenway would be washed away in 10 or so years’ time. If the coast is protected, then there is no reason why the East Coast Greenway can’t progress.
The long-awaited coastal erosion plan by Irish Rail that involves proposed works from Greystones to Wicklow town could cost up to an estimated €125m and will have significant benefits for such areas as the Murrough and Broadlough.
Between Greystones and Newcastle, a detached breakwater system will be put in place, along with beach nourishment at areas adjacent to the detached breakwaters and dune regeneration. From Newcastle to the Murrough, the plan is to upgrade and extend the Wicklow revetment (retaining wall) and place detached breakwaters in areas at immediate risk of erosion. Beach nourishment will also be carried out here.
With the next tranche of Government funding for greenways expected in September, naturally, Ciarán and co have started lobbying their ministers and TDs.
“All the TDs we’ve spoken to said no Irish Government is going to let the railway line slip into the sea,” says Lally. “It’s far too important infrastructure, and Bray Head and Wicklow town are the two major pinch points.”
The next step for the East Coast Greenway committee is to get funding for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Which could be the making or breaking of the idea, with some arguing that the local biodiversity would suffer, dubbing the project a ‘greedway’.
Nonetheless, Lally is optimistic.
“If the EIS doesn’t throw up any environmental concerns, then we could have a greenway in the next few years…”
You can check out our August 2018 interview with Ciarán Lally here. And check out the Rewild Wicklow campaign here.