A DECISION on the controversial Barrow Blueway in Carlow is imminent, according to An Bord Pleanála.
For the past 12 months, the proposal for a 115km leisure route along the Barrow Navigation has been with An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for scrutiny, following separate appeals by Waterways Ireland and objectors to the proposal. The process is at the “closing stages”, according to a spokesperson from ABP, with a “very good chance” of a verdict being published this week.
Planning permission for the project was refused initially by Carlow County Council in February 2018. Carlow planners refused permission on the basis of serious concerns about the proposed unbound surface as well as the potential ecological impact.
Local authorities in Kildare and Laois granted planning permission for the project, which was subsequently appealed to ABP by the Save the Barrow Line group.
The spokesperson said that decisions for all of the Barrow appeals will be published at the same time.
Separately, there may be a “substantial replanting” of hundreds of trees that were wrongfully felled by Waterways Ireland recently along the Barrow. However, it’s unlikely they will be replaced at the same location.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) says it is investigating the mass tree cutting, which occurred in February between Rathvinden and Milford. The NPWS has informed The Nationalist that it ordered all works being carried out by Waterways Ireland in the area to be stopped and all machinery to be moved off site, pending an investigation.
The Nationalist previously reported that Waterways Ireland failed to consult the NPWS on the works, as is standard practice. In the fall-out from the incident, Waterways Ireland offered a grovelling apology for the error, describing it as unacceptable.
The NPWS is examining potential redress to the situation with Waterways Ireland, including a significant replanting programme. The investigation was described as “ongoing” and the NPWS says that it cannot comment further at this time.
In a statement, Waterways Ireland says it is committed to working with the NPWS “to ensure an appropriate replanting programme is undertaken throughout its three operational regions to offset the tree loss, which was necessary along the Barrow Navigation. This will include the planting of native Irish trees”.