On the 11th June, the Irish regional stakeholder group for the OUR WAY project met for the second time to discuss emerging best practices from Irish & European partner regions. The draft planning & economic strategy for Ireland (RSES – Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy) was also discussed in relation to the development of greenways in Ireland & the region. Conall McGettigan (Senior Executive Planner, Northern & Western Regional Assembly) delivered a presentation on emerging issues surrounding the advancement of greenways versus the improvement of railways and the arguments presented on both sides. Caroline McCarroll (Waterways Ireland) also gave an update on the Pilgrim Way Project which is currently undergoing a feasibility study examining the potential of The Pilgrim Way in Ireland and how a product could be created from this. The study will also look at how The Pilgrim Way will be branded. The proposed way is 350km is length with a 20km radius from South Donegal to the Shannon Estuary in Kerry.
Stakeholders from various Local Authorities in the region were in attendance along with representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Department of Transport, Tourism & Sports and Waterways Ireland. Other topics discussed at the meeting included land acquisition for greenway development and the possibility of creating a national best practice document for same (pros and cons discussed), Planning Permission, Environmental Assessments and Financial Instruments/Funding for Greenways. The meeting proved very informative & Patrick Devine (EU Projects Officer, Northern & Western Regional Assembly) agreed to coordinate an update newsletter for the stakeholders at regular periods throughout the lifetime of the project. Stakeholders were also told about the next OUR WAY Interregional Workshop and Partner Meeting which will take place in Poland in September.
The meeting finished with a practical trip to examine closely a demo section of the greenway in Ballysadare, Co. Sligo. Most stakeholders attended this also and the visit was a great success.