Save the Barrow line

 

News

 

AMBASSADOR FOR THE GRASSY TOWPATH

Pat Coady fininshing Barrow Valley Marathon

 

Pat Coady from Tinnehinch pictured finishing the Stone Mad Barrow Valley Marathon which runs 60 kms along the towpath between Athy and Graignamanagh.  Like many runners, Pat loves the soft grassy towpath surface and is wearing a tee shirt with the message: ‘Save the Barrow Line: Grass is Good’.  Pat says he met many people on the day who support keeping the grassy surface.  An ambassador for the grassy towpath.Well done, Pat!

 

 

DICK WARNER RIP

With the death last week of Dick Warner, the environmentalist and broadcaster dubbed Ireland’s Greatest Waterman, Ireland’s waterways have lost a great champion.  Dick, who backed our attempt to protect the grassy Barrow towpath from plans to hard surface it, was best known for his Waterways television series for RTE.  He did programmes on the Royal Canal and along the Barrow Waterway.  He said that the walk along the grassy Barrow towpath was perhaps the most beautiful riverside walk in these islands.  Dick loved the peace and mystery of the river  and its grassy banks and understood the haven it was for wildlife.  Through his work, he introduced so many people to the wild magic of Ireland’s rivers and canals.  He was a wonderful film-maker and a generous and sensitive man. We shall miss him.

Dick Warner RIP

 

 

PLANNING STATUS

Huge thanks to everybody who made submissions to the council.  The Nationalist has reported that of the 443 submissions received by Carlow County Council only 12 submissions supported Waterways Ireland’s proposed Barrow Blueway project which represents a paltry 2.7%. In excess of 90% of submissions opposed Waterways Ireland’s plans which will come as no surprise to anyone who attended the Save the Barrow Line organised public meeting in Graiguenamanagh back in February.

 

All three county councils have now requested further information from Waterways Ireland indicating that the original planning application was deficient in a number of respects which include information concerning the need for the scheme, alternatives considered, impacts to protected species, construction and maintenance plans, landscape and visual effects, cultural heritage and archaeology implications and parking considerations. All in all a 23 page document outlining the required information issued from Carlow County Council. Laois and Kildare’s further information requests were largely in line with the Carlow document with some county specific additions, e.g. Laois also asked for counters to be installed at specific locations in order to determine current usage.

 

Waterways now have six months to supply the information requested and they may also apply for a further three month extension. The council will have eight weeks from the receipt of the further information to make their decision. If at this stage the council decides to grant permission then Save the Barrow Line will be making an appeal to An Bord Pleanala. If the council do not grant permission it is possible that Waterways Ireland will make an appeal to An Bord Pleanala. In any event we will be organising some fund raising events over the coming months in anticipation of providing Save the Barrow Line representation at a planning appeal. Thank you so much for your unwavering and overwhelming support.

 

 

PLANNING APPLICATION - FURTHER INFORMATION

A decision on the Waterways Ireland Blueway Application was due on the 23rd March 2017. However the council has chosen to ask Waterways for further information before making their decision. What this means is that the Council planners feel that they need additional information before the application can be fully determined.

Waterways will normally have a six month period in which to repsond to the request for further information - otherwise the application will be deemed to be withdrawn. Extensions to this 6-month period, however, may be granted by the council.

Once the Council receive the further information from Waterways Ireland they will have 8 weeks to make their decision (since there is an EIS involved).

A full description of the Further Information status can be accessed here (see section 5.7)

 

SUBMISSIONS TO COUNCILS

 
Huge thanks to everybody who took the trouble to submit their objection letters to the various councils. There are currently 427 Submissions to Carlow County Council noted on the Council’s web site. When they all become viewable online (only a handful is viewable online currently) we will publish the percentages who are objecting to the proposal and the percentage of those writing in support of the Waterways application. In the meantime the following summarises the status of the submissions to Kildare County Council which are viewable online at http://webgis.kildarecoco.ie/PlanningEnquiry/.


There were 35 Submissions to Kildare County Council. Two of these, one from Carlow Tourism and one other, are clearly in favour of the proposal. There are 29 Submissions (83%) clearly objecting to the proposal on various economic, health ad safety, suitability and environmental grounds and there is a further four submissions which recommend major changes to the proposed development (e.g. widths, surface type etc). This latter category includes a Submission from Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, who have indicated that "the proposed low standards are such that, in our opinion, the development will fall short of achieving its stated objectives of economic regeneration and of attracting significant numbers of domestic and international cyclists" and that the "proposal falls far short of the vision for the National Cycle Network."

The Submissions objecting to the planning application consist of moving and articulate submissions both from concerned individuals (including individuals who note that they have never submitted an objection before) and NGOs. Butterfly Conservation Ireland indicates that in their opinion the environmental impact assessment provided in the application is “unsatisfactory”. Similarly the Kildare Branch of Birdwatch Ireland indicates their belief that the environmental assessment is “inadequate.”

 

THE NATURAL HERITAGE OF THE BARROW VALLEY

Thanks to Andrew Jones for this gorgeous representation of the Barrow Valley which beautifully illustrates the outstanding natural heritage. 

See Andrew's video here

 

OLIVIA INTERVIEWED BY EDWARD HAYDEN

Proud Carlow Ambassador and Chairperson of Save the Barrow Line was interviewed by Edward Hayden on KCLR Live following the public meeting in Abbey Hall, Graiguenamanagh where, as Edward points out, there was real sense of community and great sense of support for Save the Barrow Line.

A Blueway supporter who also appeared on the radio show outlined some more of the now infamous "Barrow Facts". Among these were a claim that the towpath is not part of the SAC but rather "an access way into the SAC". This "Barrow fact" is, of course, contracticted by the planning applications own documentation which states "the proposed development along the Barrow Line is located within the Grand Canal pNHA and the route along the River Barrow is located within the River Barrow and River Nore SAC". Another "Barrow Fact" suggested that the Blueway experts have been looking after the towpath for 200 years despite the fact that Waterways Ireland was established in 1999.

Listen back here.

 

SAVE THE BARROW LINE PETITION & VIDEO

Please share the Save the Barrow Line Petition & Video. The video shows the surface types both in place now and those being proposed by Waterways Ireland (though they have since abandoned the reinforced grass idea).

 

SAMPLE OBJECTIONS

NB: objection window will end on March 2nd 2017

In addition to the sample objection letters that we have prepared for Carlow, Kildare and Laois, some kind Save the Barrow Line supporters have sent us in their own letters which you might like to use as input to your own objection.

The first letter is from Douglas Bel-Maguire. Anybody who attended Sunday's meeting will remember Douglas as the gentleman who had taken the trouble to calculate the spoil to be removed from the site and the maintenance costs involved. His objection issues can be read here.

The second letter is from Declan Kenny and is addressed to Kildare County Council. Declan makes the point that the Blueway proposals make about as much sense as if Kerry County Council decided to push a dual carriageway through the Gap of Dunloe. His letter can be read here.

 

 

A TALE OF TWO QUESTIONS

Thank you so much to all of you who attended the public meeting in Graig yesterday and to all of you who worked so hard to make it such a huge success.

A show of hands was taken to establish the appetite for the blueway. The first photo is taken when the question was asked as to who is in favour of the Blueway. Apparently there was one but he must have been quick as I seem to have missed capturing him in the photo. The second photo is the 600 who were squarely in favour of keeping the grass and protecting the area's intrinsic beauty. The second photo was accompanied by some loud  whoops and hollers.

one in favour of the blueway

in favour of the grass

 

 

SAMPLE LETTERS OF OBSERVATION/OBJECTION

We have prepared some sample letters of observation/objection for Carlow, Kildare and Laois attached. This may be helpful in preparing your own letter of objection or you may simply wish to print it out, write your name and address in the top right hand corner and print and sign your name at the bottom.

The council charge a €20 administration fee for each objection but please consider either making an individual objection or teaming up with friends or family to do so. If multiple people are signing the letter please indicate on the letter which of the group is nominated to receive the acknowledgment from the council.  Once you are happy with your objection letter simply send it off to the council at the address provided on the letter and enclosing the fee.

Sample Carlow letter available here

Sample Kildare letter available here

Sample Laois letter available here

 

 

CARLOW CAMINO

Singer-songwriter and avid cyclist Luka Bloom has voiced his opposition to Waterways Ireland's proposed Barrow Blueway project and says that he is full square behind the grassy bank and is looking forward to walking the Carlow Camino!

This followed the appearance of Save the Barrow Line Chairperson and proud Carlow Ambassdor Olivia O'Leary on the Sean O'Rourke radio show where Olivia suggested a vision for the development of the Barrow Line which doesn’t compromise its natural integrity and beauty. Not only would a Camino style pilgrimage have the potential to attract visitors in huge numbers it also has the benefit that it wouldn't require a 8-11 million euro investment of taxpayers money.

Olivia also cautioned that the Blueway is unmaintainable, situated as it is on the bank of a river which floods almost every year and that the project, if allowed to go ahead, would destroy something unique and replace it with another boring copy-cat canal track.

You can listen back here where you can also hear the opinion of a St Mullin's based cafe owner who is in favour of the proposal.

 

 

PUBLIC MEETING REMINDERS  - 12th Feb 2017

The Save the Barrow Line public meeting will be held in the Abbey Hall, Graiguenamangh on 19th Feb 2017 at 5pm. We will have sample letters of objection on hand on the day and will have a facility to allow people to make objections easily. Unfortunately, the council charge a €20 administration fee for each objection but please consider either making an individual objection or teaming up with friends and family to do so. Please come along on the 19th and have your say.

Meanwhile Waterways Ireland are planning to hold a series of public meetings next week. At the time of writing these are scheduled as follows:

County Date Time Venue
Kilkenny Tuesday 14th February 2017 3pm - 7pm Scout Hall, Graiguenamanagh
Carlow Wednesday 15th February 2017 3pm - 7pm Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow
Kildare Thursday 16th February 2017 3pm - 7pm Clanard Court Hotel, Athy
Laois Friday 17th February 2017 3pm - 7pm Vicarstown Inn, Vicarstown

 

We would ask everybody to attend a Waterways meeting if at all possible and to provide feedback (preferrably in writing) on the proposals to the Waterways representatives. Under the terms of the Aarhus Convention the public have a right to participate in decison-making in environmental matters so please ensure that you register your opposition (this will become particularly important at a later stage of the process).

 

PLANNING UPDATE - 8th Feb 2017

The planning application files are now available online on the Kildare Council web site. Access the Kildare Council online planning file number 1781  by clicking here then search by entering "1781" in the "Planning Number" field then pressing "Find." This will display the Blueway application. Now, select the "Documents" tab located just above the "Registration of Application" text. This will display the list of documents and you can view individual files by clicking on the links on the right hand side.

 

 

OTTER VOICES

Otters are protected by the EU Habitats Drirective (listed in Annex II and Annex IV of the directive). In documentation that we obtained under the freedom of Information Act the Development Applications Unit of the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht comments on the Barrow development by specifying that "a 10m riparian buffer on both banks of a waterway is considered to comprise part of the otter habitat. Therefore any proposed development should be located at least 10m away from the waterway." Of course, as we know the proposed Barrow Blueway planning applications shows that the development  is located well within this 10m otter habitat.

Waterways Ireland address this in the Natura Impact Statement section of their planning application. This is what they say "Direct impacts to Otter are not anticipated as no active Otter holts, breeding or resting places were recorded from the development footprint during the Ecological Surveys undertaken."

Now, we have video evidence of Otter activity within 10m of the river bank  but if you have further video or photographic evidence of Otter activity we would be very grateful if you could send it in to us at savethebarrowline@gmail.com.

 

 

WHICH DO YOU PREFER?

Thanks to Billy Canning for this comparison of the unique wild way before and after Waterways Ireland's latest handiwork:

 

before and after

 

 

SAVE THE BARROW LINE PUBLIC MEETING

Save the Barrow Line with Chairperson and Carlow Ambassador Olivia O'Leary will hold a public meeting in the Abbey Hall, Graiguenamanagh, at 5pm on Sunday 19th February. We will have template letters of objection available at the meeting. Hope to see you all there!

 

IF YOU DON'T BUILD IT THEY WILL COME

Waterways Ireland have installed counters to monitor activity along the towpath and we have received the activity figures from them following a freedom of information request. The Leighlinbridge counter recorded an increase from 18,396 in 2014-2015 to 60,765 in 2015-2016. The St Mullins numbers increased from 47,972 in 2014-2015 to 87,649 in 2015-2016.

What could account for such increases in numbers:

  • maybe the relentless highlighting of the area's beauty by Save the Barrow Line chairperson and Carlow Ambassador Olivia O'Leary in articles such as this one
  • maybe that  in 2015 the judges of the Irish Times Best Day Out in Ireland competition selected the Barrow Way as one of the top five finest and impressive visitor attractions in the country.
  • maybe it's because we wrote to Carlow Tourism in March 2016 to suggest that the Barrow Way be added to the Outdoor Activities section of the their web site. Prior to our request the Wicklow Way had featured.

Imagine what numbers could be achieved if the area was properly marketed for what it is! Santiago De Compostela attracts millions of visitors per year!

 

FUNDS

The Save the Barrow Line campaign is largely driven by voluntary efforts. However, we are now beginning to incur costs associated with accessing professional help with the planning process. If you would like to make a contribution our bank details are available on the Contact page

 

 GUIDELINES FOR MAKING AN OBJECTION

We will publish template letters of objection when we have completed scrutinizing the plans if anyone would like to avail of these. In the meantime these are the guidelines that we will be using in preparing the letters:

·        The letter should be addressed to the local authority department dealing with the application, as stated on the site notice or newspaper advertisement for the planning application.

 

·        The letter should reference the planning application number and a one-line summary including what the application proposes, where it is (the site) and who is proposing it .e.g. Waterways Ireland Barrow Blueway Proposal

 

·        The letter should highlight where the proposed development conflicts with the stated aims of the local authority (e.g. the proposal conflicts with the aim, as stated in the Carlow County Development Plan, to “Protect and conserve those natural, built and cultural heritage features which form the basis of the county’s tourism attraction and to seek to restrict development which would be detrimental to scenic and identified natural and cultural heritage assets”.)

 

·        The letter should highlight where the proposed development conflicts with stated Government policy and/or to planning precedent (e.g. the proposal conflicts with the Tourism Ireland’s Ancient East Marketing Objectives, which state ““Based on comprehensive research in overseas markets, the initiative is aimed at particular market segments overseas (identified by the research) who have indicated they would be more likely to come to Ireland to explore new landscapes, history and culture or simply to take time out from their busy lives and careers to connect with local heritage and nature and their own place within”.)

 

 

·        The letter should make reference to other issues which affect the community as a whole, rather than individual interests (e.g. health and safety concerns, local community opposition).

 

 

PLANNING UPDATES - 3rd Feb 2017

The planning applications have now been validated and we have been able to get copies to distribute to the planning and environmental experts who are helping us to prepare the objections. The environmental reports alone run to 650 pages so it will take some time to comb through completely but we will update as we go. Thank you for your patience and support!

 

MORE WATERWAYS CONTRADICTIONS   

In an article "Planning submitted for contoversial Blueway' which appeared in the Nationalist newspaper earlier this week Waterways Ireland were asked to comment on the response by Gerry Dornan, a senior engineer in Kildare County Council, to the River Barrow Cycling Trail Feasibility and Technical Specification Report.

It's reported that Waterways Ireland said that "it did not participate in this cycle-trail proposal or report and as a result would not comment on its validity."

Now here's the thing. Only last week Waterways Ireland issued a press release where they were more than happy to comment (incorrectly) on the report and the Dornan response - see post "Waterways Ireland respond to report.." below.

Now here's the other thing. In 2014, Waterways Ireland sent us this information "I am writing in response to your query about the status of the project to develop a cycle trail along the Barrow Navigation trackway. The history of this project is that the Leader partnership commissioned a study into the feasibility of developing the Barrow Navigation trackway and part of the Barrow Line towpath into a cycle track. Waterways Ireland, as the owner of the majority of the land, participated in the process ..."

The email goes on to say "Since then the four local authorities have met with Waterways Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife and the various other statutory bodies involved and Waterways Ireland has agreed to formally apply for planning permission to upgrade the towpath (where necessary) to allow it to be used for walking and cycling largely in accordance with the recommendations in the feasibility study." 

 If you feel that these are unacceptable standards from a publicly funded institution please consider contacting your public representatives to hold them to account.

 

 

PLANNING UPDATE - 1st Feb 2017

The planning application is still in pre-validation stage. What this means for us, unfortunately, is that we can only view the application in the planning offices and cannot yet distribute it to the planning and environmental experts who will be helping us to prepare our objections. We hope that we will have full access by the end of the week or next Monday. Details of objection issues will follow shortly after that. Thank you for your patience and your support!

 

 

PLANNING UPDATE - 30th Jan 2017

The planning application is still in the pre-validation phase.

Follow on Carlow Council online planning file number 1718 here

Follow on Kildare Council online planning file number 1781  here (search by entering "Waterways" in the  "Applicant Name" field and clicking the "Find" button)

Follow on Laois Council online planning file number 1737  here

 

A CYCLIST'S VIEW

Another interesting post from Turlough O'Brien's excellent and informational blog Rothar Routes covering cycle routes and pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe. Speaking about the development of the towpath he says "I haven't heard a single objector yet who is anti development of the river. There are other ways to improve access and promote the river and the region that are environmentally sound yet will provide a more sustainable tourism model." 

Responding to Save the Barrow Line Committee chairperson Olivia O'Leary's appearance on George Hook's High Noon radio show Turlough says that Olivia "has never forgotten her roots, nor ever failed to promote Carlow when an opportunity arose. I cannot imagine her opposing something that would be good for the County." Now ain't that the truth!

 

 

EANNA NI LAMHNA JOINS THE CAUSE

The inimitable biologist, author, tv and radio presenter, Eanna Ní Lamhna is the latest environmental and sustainability expert to lend her voice to the Save the Barrow Line Campaign. Speaking of the Barrow and of Waterways Ireland's plans she said:

"It is one of a very limited number of river SACs in Ireland.  At the moment it is enjoyed by those who walk or cycle along slowly on the grassy sod surface of the riverside path.  Introducing a composite surface with limestone dust will have a negative impact on the environment both of the bank and the river, and on the wildlife there.  People riding bikes on this surface will be going faster, and that too will be disruptive and will cause disturbance"

Eanna's voice joins that of respected environmentalist Dick Warner who descibes the Barrow towpath as being of inestimable value and of huge beauty: “It’s a treasure incredibly rich in wild-life”.  He says he is completely opposed to the proposed hard track and says the construction and the subsequent faster traffic on the line would be a real deterrent to wildlife especially otters who will leave a place and never come back if disturbed.

 

 

LINKS TO PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES

The links page has now been updated with lists of Carlow, Kildare, Laois and Kilkenny County Councillors and their contact details.

 

UPDATE - 27 Jan 2017

The Waterways Ireland Barrow Blueway planning application has been lodged with the Council earlier today and it is expected that it will be available for viewing in the Council offices on Monday next.

This followed hot on the heels of an appearance on George Hook's High Noon radio show of journalist, broadcaster, indefatigable Carlow ambassador and Chairperson of the Save the Barrow Line Committee, Olivia O'Leary. Olivia was on the show to discuss Waterway's plans to tear up the grassy sod towpath of what the esteemed environmentalist Dick Warner described as one of the most beautiful walks in these Islands. Olivia outlined how "the grassy bank is unique, it's part of the beauty of this riverside walk, so it seems contradictory to ask people to come and see something that you're partly destroying." George certainly seems convinced and signs off "we'll keep rattling the bars of Waterways Ireland on this issue." High Noon indeed!! Listen back to the full interview here.

Now is the time to have your say! We will have a copy of the Waterways Ireland planning application available for viewing locally (please contact a member of the committee for details or check back here.) We will post details on the objection process in the coming days and we will hold a public meeting during the objection window, which will end on March 2nd 2017.

 

 

WATERWAYS IRELAND RESPOND TO REPORT BY KILDARE COUNTY COUNCIL ENGINEER WHICH QUESTIONS THE SUITABILITY OF THE BARROW TRACK PROPOSED WIDTH & SURFACE

On Monday of this week Mr Art Mooney, representative of the Carlow based Barrow Users Group, featured on KCLR to discuss a document procured by Mr Mooney under the Freedom of Information Act and which represents the response by a senior engineer in Kildare County Council to the River Barrow Cycling Trail Feasibility and Technical Specification Report. Further details of this document and a response by journalist, broadcaster, Save the Barrow Line Chairperson & proud Carlow ambassador Olivia O’Leary, has also appeared this week in the Kilkenny people.

Waterways Ireland's response is now available on KCLR web site.

 Let’s take a look:

“In a statement to KCLR news Shane Browne a spokesperson for Waterways Ireland says that ‘the current proposal is for a shared use recreational path -i.e not exclusively a cycleway – the design and standard of which were not addressed in the engineers assessment which predated the current plan’.

As Mr Mooney pointed out on the radio show the document procured was a response by Kildare County Council engineer Mr Gerry Dornan to the River Barrow Cycling Trail Feasibility and Technical Specification Report. Section 3.1.4 of this document states “the overall specification for the cycle trail which, when combined with the existing walking trail will be a shared use walking and cycling Greenway.” So, Mr Browne of Waterways Ireland is clearly incorrect if he is suggesting that Mr Dornan was not responding to a shared use trail proposal.

Furthermore, a main tenet of the Kildare County Council Engineer Mr Dornan’s response was that the model proposed (a shared use walking and cycling trail with a width of between 2.0m and 3.0m) “will not promote mass cycling or attract international tourists.”

The Waterways Ireland response "goes on to say that the current surface is unsuitable for a slow tourism product for all the family and the proposed unbound surface will be suitable for this shared recreational path which will endeavour to promote slow tourism.

Waterways Ireland seems to have completely misunderstood the concept of “slow tourism.” Slow tourism hinges around the values of authenticity, uniqueness and respect for the local environment and the local people. Readers can judge for themselves whether these values would be best served by the existing grassy sod tow path which has existed for hundreds of years or by the proposed surface which Mr Dornan of Kildare County Council describes as “dirty – in dry weather clothes and bikes are partially covered with a layer of dust. In wet weather, the results are worse.”

 

 

PLANNING UPDATE - 24 Jan 2017

Notice of the planning application appeared in the Carlow Nationalist newspaper today so it is likely that the planning application will be lodged as expected on 26th Jan 2017 - though Waterways Ireland will need to update their site notices before Thursday if that is the case. If you live near or are passing a site notice in the coming days if you could please take a photograph and send it to us at savethebarrowline@gmail.com stating when & where the photo was taken that would be a great help.

If the plan is submitted on Thursday then we expect that it will be validated by the Council and available to us early next week so please circle back for updates. We will be also be organising a public meeting in the coming weeks. 

Now is the time to have your say:

Please contact your public representatives (see links page)

Please share the Save the Barrow Line petition and video

Please consider lodging an indvidual objection to the planning application or banding together with a few neighbours and friends to do so (we will post "how-to" details here and send an email when the planning application is finally official). 

 

THE BARROW TOWPATH DEBATE - 23 Jan 2017

Waterways Ireland's proposed changes to the Barrow Towpath featured in several media outlets earlier today. Mr Art Mooney, representative of the Carlow based Barrow Users Group, featured on KCLR to discuss a document procured by Mr Mooney under the Freedom of Information Act and which represents the response by a senior engineer in Kildare County Council to the River Barrow Cycling Trail Feasibility and Technical Specification Report. The document records the Kildare Co Co senior engineer as dismissing the proposed trail as "a sub-standard and low quality facility for cyclists and will not promote mass cycling or attract international tourists."

The contributor to the show representing the supporters of the Barrow Blueway,  unfortunately and once again, resorted to name-calling when confronted by an agrument divergent from his own. Adding to last weeks "emotive" and "elitist" comments the contributor branded those opposed to the Blueway as (ironically) Trump-like, no-sayers and private holiday home owners. The contributor also stated that the Barrow line was currently "not used to any great extent."

Listen back to the debate here and draw your own conclusons about trumpism, elitism, exclusivity and mis-information.

Later in the day the Barrow towpath featured on George Hook's High Noon radio programme on Newstalk where George described the plan to put down a hard surface on what is one of the most beautiful walks on these islands as "disgraceful and quite outrageous. " Referring to the increased speed on the hard surface he said: "you can't walk with people flashing by you on bicycles.What will it do to the ecosystem. To the animals?"

The debate also featured today in the Kilkenny People where further details of the document procured by Mr Mooney under the Freedom of Information Act were revealed. The piece also contains a response by journalist, broadcaster and proud Carlow Ambassador Olivia O'Leary who highlights both the safety concerns and the vision of the Save the Barrow Line Group to develop the towpath in a manner which is sustainable and consistent with both the natural characteristics and actual heritage of the area: "it ensures a pace which is consistent with the calm beauty of this riverside way, and we believe it is this unique beauty which offers the best option for developing the route as a Camino type tourist destination" Olivia says. The Camino attracts millions of visitors per year ! 

 

WATERWAYS IRELAND PUBLIC MEETINGS - 16 Jan 2017

KCLR have confirmed today that the Waterways Ireland Barrow towpath information days have been postponed. "Waterways Ireland say they have now put them back until the validation process of their planning permission has begun. The meetings had been due to take place this week in Carlow and in Graiguenamanagh."

 

 

TOWPATH DEBATE ON KCLR

Chairperson of the Save the Barrow Line Committee Olivia O'Leary was on KCLR on Thursday last, 12th Jan 2017, to voice the widely held opposition to the Barrow Blueway proposal. Olivia represented the thousands of voices opposed to the removal of the grassy path as she highlighted that the grass  is an integral part of the unique value and beauty of the area. The replacement of the grassy way would change the dynamic of the route and would impact on the peacefulness, wildness and appeal. Olivia also cautioned on the safety concerns associated with enabling speed on the narrow riverside route.

Two contributors in favour of Waterways Ireland's proposal who joined the debate used the words  "emotive", "exclusivity", "elitist","lies" in relation to the Save the Barrow Line campaign. There was even some suggestion by one of these contributors that the the Save the Barrow Line supporters do not live in the area. This same contributor also suggested that Waterways were not proposing a hard surface.

You can listen back on KCLR Catch-up and draw your own conclusions about emotiveness, exclusivity, elitism and misinformation.

KCLR Catchup Thursday 12th Jan Part 1

KCLR Catchup Thursday 12th Jan  Part 2

PLANNING APPLICATION UPDATE - 8th Jan 2017 

Contrary to Councillor Arthur Mc Donald’s reported statement on KCLR (2nd Jan 2017) that Waterways Ireland have withdrawn their Barrow Blueway planning application until a public meeting has been held with locals about their plans, Waterways have not yet submitted the application. They have themselves indicated that they are hoping to submit their planning application by the end of January 2017 and they have cancelled their public information sessions planned for the week beginning 15th Jan 2017 (to be rescheduled at an as yet unspecified date.)

Waterways Ireland's statement is largely in line wth the expectations of the Council planning departments who have reconfirmed in the last few days that they are expecting the applications to be lodged "in the coming weeks."  

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Thanks to the Carlow town based Save the Barrow Track group for bringing this to our attention. Butterfly Conservation Ireland says of Waterways Ireland:

"How ironic is it that a body charged with encouraging people to enjoy the beauty of our inland waterways should damage the values it seeks to portray?"

Please take a look at the photo comparison between a recently hard surfaced section near Kilcock and the Barrow Way (before tampering) and see for yourself exactly what's at stake:

http://www.butterflyconservation.ie/wordpress/?p=5202

Now is the time to have your say:

Please contact your public representatives (see links page)

Please share the Save the Barrow Line petition and video

Please consider lodging an indvidual objection to the planning application or banding together with a few neighbours and friends to do so (we will post "how-to" details here and send an email when the planning application is finally official). 

 

SOME PICTURES FROM THE BARROW LINE

 

One of the Save the Barrow Line's youngest supporters believes that even if it's mid-winter and even if you're in a double buggy with a cheeky monkey - the Grass is Still Fine and We Need to Save the Line! 

Picture of double Buggy

Lest we forget ... one year ago .. this shows the treacherous trench left behind when Storm Frank washed away the hard surface which Waterways Ireland had installed at the Devil's Eyebrow, Graiguenamanagh. In fairness to Waterways they were very quick to re-fill this section but what will happen when it's not a 10m stretch but rather a 100 km stretch that requires their attention. And where is the limestone infill that once constituted the hard surface .. what will happen when there is 100 km of limestone infill silting up the river bed?

Trench left behind by Storm Frank

Now is the time to have your say:

Please contact your public representatives (see links page)

Please share the Save the Barrow Line petition and video

Please consider lodging an indvidual objection to the planning application or banding together with a few neighbours and friends to do so (we will post "how-to" details here and send an email when the planning application is finally official). 

 

JOBS AND TOURISM

Carlow needs jobs and needs to up its tourism game. The portrayal of those opposed to the Barrow Blueway as anti-jobs or anti-progress is erroneous in the extreme. The sustainable development of Carlow’s immense tourism potential, however, requires a vision that goes some ways beyond the  apparent notion that we should implement whatever projects that we can get funding for regardless of the long-term logic of these projects.


The idea that the Barrow Blueway is the surefire and sustainable way to increase tourism in the area ignores the rules of Marketing 101, namely Unique Selling Point. Tourism Ireland’s PromEx Study has recorded the reasons why German tourists find Ireland unique: “the green landscape”, “the unspoilt nature”, “landscapes are fantastic”. The proposed Barrow Blueway will urbanise the route, destroy its uniqueness and have a detrimental effect on the Barrow Valley’s tourist potential.

The idea that the Barrow Blueway is the surefire and sustainable way to increase tourism in the area ignores the fact the Blueway is unmaintainable situated as it is on the bank of a river which floods almost every year.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to develop a cycle track along the old Palace East Line railway track thus creating a new amenity which is not at risk of being washed away? Wouldn’t it make more sense to exploit the towpath’s existing heritage as a pilgrim route along the lines of the Camino De Santiago rather than importing faddish short-term notions? Shouldn’t our elected representatives have learned from the “build and be dammed” days of the Celtic Tiger and be prepared to ask the hard questions about long term suitability, sustainability and value for money rather than just simply putting out the paw?

 

 

RED HERRING SPOTTED IN BARROW VALLEY?

It’s currently being reported on KCLR news this afternoon (2nd Jan 2017) that according to Councillor Arthur Mc Donald “Waterways Ireland have withdrawn their application for the Barrow Towpath .. until a public meeting has been held with locals about their plans.”

Councillor Mc Donald doesn’t appear to be aware of the latest position regarding the application. In fact it was not submitted to the councils as originally planned (on 14th Dec 2016) so its status cannot be described as “withdrawn.”

According to Carlow County Council planning department the status is as follows “further to consultations with Waterways Ireland the planning application is not due to be submitted to Carlow County Council until mid-January 2017. Further notices will be placed in the national and local newspapers closer to the time.”

According to Kildare County Council planning department the status is as follows “we have not received the application as of yet.  It is expected in around the week beginning the 16th January 2017.  It will be on public display in the public area on Level 2 of the council offices here in naas. Keep an eye out on the Council website in the weekly list of 'Received Applications' in the new year as it will be listed in same once received and validated.”

The other implication of Councillor Mc Donald’s reported statement is that Waterways Ireland are actually remotely concerned about local opinions. Although it would be great to believe that Waterways Ireland have had some kind of a conversion on the road St Mullins, the historical evidence would suggest otherwise.

On Dec 12th 2016 KCLR reported that “Waterways Ireland says they’re aware of all the opposition to constructing a towpath along the Barrow Way but they’re going ahead with a planning submission anyway.”

Previously, Waterways Ireland were forced (under the Freedom of Information Code and thanks to the Carlow town based Save the Barrow Track group) to publish the results of their survey to establish the appetite for their proposed Blueway project. The online survey results showed that 84% of respondents felt that the proposal will have no positive contribution to community life, jobs, local groups or businesses. The responses collected at the feedback sessions showed a clear majority in favour of keeping the grassy track.

Prior to this freedom of information forced disclosure Waterways had said in a press release that the response was “overall very positive”. We made a complaint to the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht about this and they have indicated that “Waterways has only made a general statement about the outcome due to lack of statistical significance of the outputs.” In other words, they have chosen to ignore our feedback because they don’t find us statistically significant.

So, please be vigilant and circle back here where we will post updates from the planning departments as they actually happen and please share the Save the Barrow Line video and petition:

Save the Barrow Line video available here

Save the Barrow Line petition available here

COSTS AND BENEFITS

Supporters of  the Barrow Blueway proposal often cite that they are being guided by the success of the Mayo (Great Western) Greenway project. It is self-evident that there is no correlation between the Mayo Greenway, a project which converted a disused railway line into an amenity, and the Barrow Blueway, a project which proposes to fundamentally alter a much loved existing amenity which the Irish Times describes as one of the top five tourist attractions in the whole of Ireland.

If you think that this lack of care and due diligence by Waterways Ireland in the management of our heritage and our tourism assets is unacceptable - now is the time to have your say!

Save the Barrow Line video available here (Please share)

Save the Barrow Line petition available here  (Please share)

 

UPDATE: Waterways Ireland have emailed regarding a cost benefit analysis. They say "The Barrow Blueway will provide, subject to planning approval, 115km of off-road path which will attract international visitors which will further enhance recreational and economic opportunities along the route" and then go on to talk about the Shannon Blueway. This page is being updated accordingly and we will revert to Waterways to confirm if the opinion which they sent us regarding the path attracting international visitors and the information proivded regarding the Shannon Blueway constitiutes their cost benefit anlaysis or whether they have carried out some more robust study specifically focussed on the Barrow Blueway project.  

 

POLLS & PLANNING

There’s a disappointing trend in the current Kilkenny People Poll on the Blueway proposal. It is unfortunate that this is an anonymous poll and the barrier to voting multiple times is set very low.

On the other hand, the petition to save the grassy surface has around 4K signatures and climbing. It’s also notable that Waterway’s Ireland own poll on the Blueway indicated that that 84% of respondents felt that the proposal will have no positive contribution to community life, jobs, local groups or businesses.

Kildare County Council have now indicated that they expect the planning application to be submitted "in around the week beginning the 16th January 2017.  It will be on public display in the public area on Level 2 of the council offices here in naas." When the plan is finally made available we will ensure that a hard copy of the plan is made available locally also and we will be on hand to help anyone who would like some assistance with preparing and lodging an objection

Save the Barrow Line video available here

Save the Barrow Line petition available here

 

WATERWAYS PLANNING APPLICATION: 19.12.2016

There appears to be some confusion as to when the Waterways Ireland application for their proposed Barrow Blueway project will be lodged.  This was expected to be lodged with the councils on December 14th 2016. However, Carlow County Council have indicated to us that the application is not now expected to become official until mid-January 2017

As soon as the plan comes available we will publish details on how to access the plan and will publish our letter of observation (the grounds on which we are objecting to the proposed removal of the grassy surface). We will also ensure that a hard copy of the plan is made available locally and we will show people how to object if they want to. The committee will do all we can but we can’t do it alone. Now is the time to have your say! 

Save the Barrow Line video available here

Save the Barrow Line petition available here

 

ACTOR GABRIEL BYRNE OPPOSES PROPOSED BLUEWAY

The Hollywood star Gabriel Byrne has voiced his opposition to Waterways Ireland's proposed Barrow Blueway project. Mr Byrne said "I think to damage what's been there for some 300 years, to damage the banks and disrupt the species, would be something that anyone who cares about the environment wouldn't want to see." Read the full article "Actor Gabriel Byrne says proposed Blueway route through Kildare would 'damage' area" here.

 

A CYCLISTS VIEW

The following email is from a Save the Barrow Line supporter and keen cyclist who kindly took the trouble to write to us to share their experience of the grassy towpath as an ideal cycling route .... 

"Hi there

My husband & I are keen cyclists .... we've been on many types of biking adventures including trips to America, Mallorca, Cyprus, UK, Scandinavia, etc. But our cycle from the Grand Canal Docks along the Grand Canal & turning off onto the Barrow Way, taking in 3 days of cycling this summer, was by far the most enjoyable & memorable adventure of them all.

Turning into the grassy but well manicured banks of the Barrow took us back in time & we found ourselves at one with nature. It happened to be raining but this wasn't an issue for us, as cycling on grass prevents the wet spray that a cyclist usually gets from tarred roads. The trees also provided some shelter & wind break. The route was so scenic and varied & we even managed a swim along the way!

I was gutted to hear that there are plans to tarmac this beautiful historic pathway. The grassy route is home to much wildlife, protects the river from run off & pollution & acts as a carbon sink for green house gasses. We need to protect our heritage.


The grassy bank also serves as a forgiving walking route for locals & tourists who find walking on harder surfaces a burden on the joints. Cyclists can use mountain bikes or cyclocross bikes to enjoy this terrain. I found when cycling along the Grand Canal with its tarmac surface, I was more interested in clocking up mileage & gaining speed than taking in the surroundings. The Barrow Way's wonderful flat & grassy bank encourages the cyclist to slow down, take it all in & appreciate the surroundings. Getting rid of this bank has so much more negatives than any positive I can genuinely think of.

I believe the funding for the development of the Barrow Way should go into marketing this wonderful amenity. Apart from spreading the word that this facility exists, signage is also something much needed on the banks as when crossing roads i was unsure at times which side of the bank to take by bike.

Many of my friends heard about my trip after and asked how we heard. I found the route via irishtrails.ie .... so many don't know it exists!! We need to get the message out there but the route also needs to be served by public transport so it is accessible to all ... transport which carries bikes & allows for hopping on & off to complete some or all of the route.

I truly hope this trail will be preserved for many others, like I, to enjoy into the long & distant future."

 

 

WATERWAYS APPLY FOR PLANNING PERMISSION:

 

The time has come to save the line!  

Waterways Ireland have given notice that they intend to submit planning applications for their Barrow Blueway project to the councils of Carlow, Kildare and Laois. At the time of writing the applications are expected to be received by the councils on Wed 14th Dec 2016 and any observations/objections are expected to be required to be submitted to the council within 5 weeks of this date.

The Save the Barrow Line group opposes Waterways Ireland’s proposal to get rid of the towpath’s quiet grassy surface and replace it with a gravel track for cyclists. The existing grass surface, which is so beautiful, accommodates cyclists, walkers, anglers and joggers alike.  It ensures a pace which is consistent with the calm beauty of this riverside way and we believe it is this unique beauty which offers the best option for developing the route as a Camino type tourist destination.

The Camino de Santiago in Spain attracts millions of visitors per year and recent research has been uncovered which suggests that pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela followed the Barrow route to reach their ship at Waterford and furthermore that the route from Leighlinbridge down to St. Mullins was part of Slighe Chualann, one of the five ancient roads of Ireland.

The Waterways planning application will become available in the councils in the coming weeks and is also expected to be available online. The Save the Barrow Line committee will publish details on how to access the plan and will publish its letter of observation (the grounds on which we are objecting to the proposed removal of the grassy surface). We will also ensure that a hard copy of the plan is made available locally and we will show people how to object if they want to. The committee will do all we can but we can’t do it alone. Now is the time to have your say! 

 

THE IRISH WAY OF ST JAMES :

Writer and Historian Damien McLellan is the Guest Speaker at Graiguenamanagh Historical Society's gathering in Graig library at 8:00pm on Friday 21st October 2016 with a talk entitled "A historical & practical evening on walking the Camino to Santiago De Compostella including the medieval Irish Pilgrim's Way via Graiguenamanagh & St. Mullins."

Mr McLellan's article “Reclaiming an Irish ‘Way of St James” was published recently in History Ireland and provides compelling evidence that the Barrow Way is in fact part of an Irish tributary of the Camino de Santiago.

 

A CYCLIST'S VIEW:

We read with interest the thoughts of Turlough O'Brien whose excellent and informational blog RotharRoutes provides a personal account of bike routes and journeys both in Ireland and abroad. Turlough has spent most of his Saturdays over the past few months mapping cycles route across Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Laois and Kildare; he has spent time exploring Blueways on mainland Europe. His conclusion: "Give me a choice and I would pick the Barrow Track as it now is."

"Having spent many years cycling on the Barrow Track I am very familiar with every kilometre of it. It is simply the best off road cycling route in the country. The Barrow Track is a unique resource – no other river has a 70km walking path along it’s bank. It is a an area of natural beauty and national significance, a pristine wilderness, full of wonderful flora and fauna. A real living Green Way.
Any ‘development’ that exploits or damages that for the intention of economic development truly is ill judged and misguided.... if the intention is to maximise the resource for the benefit of local communities then the plan must surely be to enhance and not interfere with the local environment.
To replace the grassy bank with a hardcore surface can only be described as an act of vandalism."

Read the full text of Turlough's excellent blog here

 

PILGRIM WALK TO DUISKE ABBEY

The Save the Barrow Line Committee are very pleased to see a pilgrimage walk planned for the Barrow towpath on September 11th (walk from St. Moling’s Well starts at 1.30). ‘This is exactly the sort of thoughtful meditative walk which suits the grassy Barrow track and which respects the ancient monastic traditions both of Graig and St. Mullins’ said broadcaster Olivia O’Leary, committee chairperson. ‘It joins up the medieval Cistercian Abbey of Duiske and the early Christian settlement of St. Moling.’   

There have also been suggestions of a link with the famous Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage of St. James.  Writer and historian Damien McLellan has claimed that it is no coincidence that the ruined church on the St. Mullins site is dedicated to St. James and that the Patron Day in St. Mullins is held on the Sunday before the feast of St. James the Apostle on July 25th.  He has suggested that pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela in Spain used to come this way to reach their ship at Waterford and that the route from Leighlinbridge down to St. Mullins was part of Slighe Chualann, one of the five ancient roads of Ireland.

The Save the Barrow Line committee opposes Waterways Ireland’s proposal to get rid of the towpath’s quiet grassy surface and replace it with a gravel track for cyclists.  The existing grass surface, which is so beautiful, accommodates cyclists, walkers and joggers alike.  It ensures a pace which is consistent with the calm beauty of this riverside way.  The Waterways planning application has not been lodged yet and the committee will keep people informed of its progress on this website.

 

BARROW VALLEY BLOG

Congratulations to Save the Barrow Line supporter James Burke who's website http://barrowvalley.net/ has been shortliseted for the Irish Blog Awards 

 

A TOURIST'S VIEW:

“This is special: we have to guard against copycat ideas that would make it ordinary; just like any suburban canal track. We have to save the grassy magic of the Barrow Line” - Olivia O'Leary

There is much evidence that it is precisely this grassy magic that attracts visitors to the Barrow Way. Here's just one confirmation of that fact sent in to us by Paul, a visitor from Northern Ireland who explains,

 "Following a recommendation from a member of a forum I not only found a B&B to stay in near Graiguenamanagh, but enjoyed it so much that we have been back numerous times since and, most recently this month, introduced new friends to the experience. I estimate that between us we spent over €1200 over the four days we were there, in B&B accommodation, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and entrance fees to gardens etc. We visit Carlow three to four times each year, spending more or less the same each time. This is money that would be lost to the local economy if the plans go ahead as we wouldn't be travelling down to walk a gravel path."

 

MORNING IRELAND 7th JUNE 2016

The Waterways Ireland proposal to turn the Barrow Way into a hard surface cycle track featured on Cian McCormack’s recent Ancient East series on RTE Radio's Morning Ireland. The Save the Barrow Line chairperson Olivia O’Leary represented the thousands of voices opposed to the removal of the grassy path as she highlighted that the grass frames the river and is an integral part of the unique value and beauty of the area, “it’s just like a carpet, it absorbs all sounds, when you’re walking down along here you won’t hear a car, you won’t hear the sound of your own footsteps.” The replacement of the grassy way would change the dynamic and beauty of the route and would impact on the peacefulness and the wildness. Olivia also cautioned on the safety concerns associated with enabling speed on the narrow riverside route.

When asked if it was a case that Olivia and the Save the Barrow Line supporters wanted to keep “this little treasure to yourselves” Olivia replied that she has been writing articles “about what a wonderful, wonderful walk this is for the last 40 years.” In fact Olivia has recently been awarded the title of Carlow Ambassador at the Carlow Business Awards for bringing ‘Brand Carlow’ to a national stage.

Olivia suggested a vision for the development of the Barrow Line which doesn’t compromise its natural integrity and beauty. Not only would a Camino style pilgrimage have the potential to attract visitors in huge numbers, it is also consistent with Failte Ireland’s Ancient East campaign especially considered in the context of research by Damien McLellan published recently in History Ireland. His article “Reclaiming an Irish ‘Way of St James” provides compelling evidence that the Barrow Way is in fact part of an Irish tributary of the Camino de Santiago. He speculates that after leaving St Mullins “going north or home as a pilgrim, you will continue alongside the Barrow through Graignamanagh to Leighlinbridge.”

How the Waterways Ireland Barrow Blueway proposal fits within the Ancient East designation is much more problematic; a point which Declan Rice, CEO of Kilkenny Leader Partnership and a supporter of the project, recognised as “a challenge.”  He believes that a heritage site such as Duiske Abbey “is not going to attract an awful lot of people.” “Duiske Abbey, in-out you’ve done it in half an hour. You’d want to be a real sort of a dweeb to be there for, you know, an hour and a half and buy a meal, you know, or contemplate buying a meal.”

When you take a minute to consider the fact that there are millions of visitors to Santiago de Compostela and its Cathedral each year Mr Rice's "dweeb" comments would seem not only disrespectful but also extremely shortsighted and very wide of the economic mark.

LISTEN BACK HERE.

 

PLANNING STATUS UPDATE MAY 2016

A pre-planning scoping request has been received by the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht in relation to Waterways Ireland's Barrow Blueway proposal. It is expected that a formal planning application will follow shortly. We will post further updates here over the coming weeks.  

 

BARROW LINE ARTICLE

Save the Barrow Line Chairperson Olivia O'Leary presents a passionate case for maintaining the grassy fabric of the Barrow Line IN THIS RTE ARTICLE. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Waterways Ireland provide a less than helpful response.

Don't forget to check out the SAVE THE BARROW LINE VIDEO

 

AFTER THE FLOOD

In the closing days of 2015 Storm Frank battered the country resulting in severe flooding along the Barrow Line. The importance of the grass and roots systems for bank reinforcement was all too obvious as stretches of the Line where Waterways Ireland had previously replaced the grass surface with hard-core were simply washed away. See the sorry results here.

 

CARLOW AMBASSADOR

Congratulations to Save the Barrow Line Chairperson Olivia O'Leary who was recently awarded the tilte Carlow Ambassador at the Carlow Business Awards. In addition to the 18 business categories, Olivia was among three individuals who were recognised for their contributions to Carlow life. Specifically, Olivia was awarded Carlow Ambassador for bringing ‘Brand Carlow’ to a national stage.

 

THE BARROWLINE @ NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Thanks to Fergal Byrne of Best Foot Photo for featuring the Barrow Line in the National Geographic's Sacred Landscapes assignment.

See Fergal's beautiful feature here.

 

WATERWAYS IRELAND HERITAGE PLAN

Waterways Ireland have prepared a Draft Heritage Plan 2016 - 2020 and it is currently out for public consultation. The stated intention of the plan is to identify, raise awareness of and promote the conservation of the built, natural and cultural heritage of the inland navigable waterways. The natural heritage is stated to include flora, fauna, habitats, ecosystems & landscapes.

Whilst the plan contains a lot of welcome aspirations, unfortunately, it also attempts to put Blueway projects (which include, in the case of the Barrow Blueway, the removal of the grass surface from the Barrow towpath) forward as heritage initiatives. Specifically, section 3.3 outlines an aim to:

 "Continue to develop the potential of our natural, built and cultural heritage in a positive manner to develop sustainable heritage amenities i.e. walking trails, cycling routes and blueways etc."

Now I don't know about you but I'm at a complete loss to understand what the replacement of the grassy towpath with a hard surface track could possibly have to do with conservation or with any notion of heritage. Indeed, the esteemed environmentalist Dick Warner has indicated that the Barrow Blueway development will have a hugely negative impact on the Natural heritage of the area.  Mr Warner has said he is completely opposed to the proposed hard track and says the construction and the subsequent faster traffic on the line would be a real deterrent to wildlife especially otters who will leave a place and never come back if disturbed.

The proposed Barrow Blueway is not a heritage amenity; nor is it a sustainable amenity given that Waterways Ireland CEO has informed us that there is no funding available to maintain the hard surface.

Given the multitude of important ecclesiastical and pilgrimage sites along the Barrow (which includes St Faicre's at Ullard & St Moling's at St Mullins) and given Failte Ireland's wish to promote a unified and cohesive vision of an Ancient East wouldn't it make more sense to promote the Barrow towpath as a Camino de Santiago de Compostela style pilgrimage destination.

The heritage and tourism potential is immense. Visitor numbers to Santiago have risen from hundreds in the late 1970s to millions of visitors currently.

The Waterways Ireland heritage plan is avilable here and Waterways are holding a public consultation event on Thursday October 15, 2015 from 2-7pm at the Lord Bagenal Hotel (Gallery Room) http://www.lordbagenal.com/location.html

 

 

GABRIEL BYRNE LENDS HIS VOICE TO CAMPAIGN

Long time Barrow towpath lover Gabriel Byrne went on KCLR this week to voice his dismay over Waterways Ireland's proposals to replace the grassy sod with a hard surface track. The Hollywood star said that to "damage the banks and disrupt the species would be something I think that anybody who cares about the environment wouldn’t want to see” and he went on to stress how once this kind of damage has been done it is irreversible.

See the kclr article here: http://kclr96fm.com/top-irish-actor-adds-his-voice-to-save-the-barrow-line-campaign/

Listen back here: http://kclr96fm.com/kclr-live-thursday-august-6-2015/ (starts around 6 mins in)

 

SUPPORT

If there are two people who understand the art of presenting the best of what this glorious country has to offer to a world stage then it is surely Moya Doherty and John McColgan of Riverdance fame. They were joined in Tinnahinch by long time Barrrow lover the wonderful Gabriel Byrne to lend their support to our campaign to save the grassy surface and keep the Barrow Line the wild and wonderful place that it is.

John Mc Colgan & Moya Doherty want to Save the Barrow LineGabriel Byrne supports the campaign to Save the Barrow Line

 

BEST DAY OUT

The judges of the Irish Times Best Day Out in Ireland competition have chosen the Barrow Way as one of the five finest and impressive visitor attractions in the country. Deemed suitable for walking, cycling and kayaking the judges reported that "the grass path is well maintained, the banks themselves are allowed to flourish in their own fashion. On a hot day you could be in the south of France.”

 

PLANNING PERMISSION LATEST

Waterways now say that they are carrying our further work on the planning permission application over the summer months and intend to submit the application in September.

 

PLANNING PERMISSION

At a recent presentation by Waterways Ireland to Kilkenny County Council, Waterways indicated that they are in the process of completing an Environmental Impact Study and finalising engineering designs in preparation for the planning persmission application.

If you have provided your email address to us when signing our online petition then we will send you an email to let you know when the planning application is made. If you have not yet provided your email but would like to be informed of the progress of the planning application then please let us know at savethebarrowline@gmail.com.

Notice of the planning application will also appear in one or more newspapers. In the case of applications to Carlow County Council this will be one of Carlow Nationaslist, Carlow People, Irish Independent, Irish Times, The Irish Examiner.

Also, planning applications are available to view online e.g. at:

Carlow County Council: http://193.178.30.218/eplancarlow/searchtypes.aspx

Kilkenny County Council: http://planning.kilkennycoco.ie/

Kildare County Council: http://webgis.kildarecoco.ie/PlanningEnquiry/

Laois County Council: http://www.laois.ie/eplan41/SearchExact.aspx

Councils always request objection representations within a time limit, which may be as little as three weeks, from the application being made. We will post guidelines on submitting a planning objection here soon and please don't hesitate to contact a committee member or write to us at savethebarrowline@gmail.com if you would like further information.

 

 

WATERWAYS IRELAND HERITAGE AND BIODIVERSITY SURVEY

A lot of people were sorely disappointed that they experienced various problems submitting to the Barrow Blueway Proposals Survey last week. Waterways have another survey which is currently open if you would like to provide feedback regarding the heritage and biodiversity impacts of the Barrow Blueway proposal. Waterways have advertised a submission "deadline of Monday 12 Jan 2015". Rather confusingly, this means that you must make a submission on or before Sunday 11th Jan 2015.

This survey doesn't involve the complicated submission procedures that the Barrow Blueway proposal survey suffered from. The link to the submission page is:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z6FH37W

 

WATERWAYS INVITING FEEDBACK UNTIL 5th JAN

Waterways are inviting feedback to their Barrow Blueway proposal until the 5th Jan 2015. Unfortunately a lot of people have contacted us to say that they had trouble submitting feedback to Waterways Ireland via their web site so we've compiled this guide to help with the rather long winded process.

 

SAVE THE BARROW LINE VIDEO

“This is special: we have to guard against copycat ideas that would make it ordinary, just like any suburban canal track. We have to save the grassy magic of the Barrow Line”

These are the words of the The Save The Barrow Line Chairperson Olivia O'Leary in this video which captures just how much the grassy towpath has to offer, just how much is on the line. The video also shows examples of the types of surfaces that are being proposed by Waterways.  Please take five minutes to have a look here.

 

WATERWAYS PUBLIC CONSULTATION

Waterways Ireland held four public information events in late Novemeber and early December. It was confirmed at these meetings that no cost benefit analysis has been done for the project. A mix of surfaces types were presented including bound, an unbound mix of stones and crushed limestone (currently in place north of the bridge in Tinnahinch) and reinforced grass (grass sown through a plastic mesh). Examples of the types of surfaces being proposed can be seen in this video. There was no definitive information as to which specific surfaces were proposed for which parts of the Line.

In general, what Waterways describe as a shared use trail (but which was clearly labled as a cycleway in the designs presented) is required to be set back at least 1m from the water's edge and is 2.5m in width. Asked about the safety implications of this design Waterways indicated that no safety reports have been produced.

The Waterways Ecological Study Report is available from their website. The 170 page report dates from 2012, contains no conclusions and only one recommendation concerning the provision of artifical nestiing sites for the kingfisher. It contains statements such as "the scrub, woodland and bankside vegetation that is currently present along the River Barrow is of extreme importance as cover for Otter" and yet Wateways indicated at the meetings that the (not yet complete) designs would have no negative ecological impact.

Waterways Ireland intend to apply for planning permission early in the new year. They have indicated that they would like to receive feedback on their proposals from local communities and will accept feedback until the 5th January 2015 .

 

 

BANK HOLIDAY WALK UPDATE

It was an exciting October bank holiday weekend in Graig; the gods were smiling and the sun was shining as hundreds of Save the Barrow line supporters gathered in Tinnahinch. A selection of silverware, including the Liam McCarthy cup, was on display thanks to Rackard Coady, Lester Ryan and Walter Walsh. The crowd listened to rousing words from our very own Olivia O'Leary and rousing sounds from the pitch perfect Graig Brass Band before setting off on the walk to Carriaglead Lock and back.

Later in the Abbey Hall the Save the Barrow Line committee chairperson Olivia O'Leary and committee members Larry Butler, Owen Doyle and Billy Hoare addressed the crowd and gave details of the protection orders for the Line that have been submitted to Carlow County Council. Local Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein councillors, TDs and senators were present to lend their support. 

Minister Phelan was delayed at another engagement but we really appreciate that she made it to the Abbey Hall to inform us of an upcoming meeting being held in Graig by Waterways Ireland. As we are still awaiting answers to fundamental questions which we have posed to Waterways multiple times (e.g. has a cost benefit analysis been carried out, when will planning permission be sought?) we would very much welcome some answers to these questions at that meeting if not before.

Thank you to everyone who made the the day such a huge success and thanks to Fergal Byrne, Ann Hayden and David Flynn for capturing some highlights from the day which can be viewed here.


 

PAINTING

Thanks to Ann McLeod for sending us this beautiful painting of the Barrow Line:

SLIDESHOW

Thanks to Andrew Jones for providing a beautiful Save the Barrow Line slide show on youtube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J0UGJAcCJg


PUBLIC MEETING

The Save the Barrow Line committee held a public meeting in the Duiske Inn, Graiguenamanagh on 8th August 2014. A huge thank you is due to all who attended and expressed overwhelming support for the committee in its efforts to save the grassy Barrow towpath and in its efforts to have a protection order included in the Carlow County Development Plan. 

A huge apology is also due to all those who couldn't get in to see the proceedings.The turnout was far bigger than we had planned for and for this we offer sincerest apologies. The speech delivered by the Save the Barrow Line chairperson Olivia O'Leary on the night is available here

 

SAVE OUR HEARTLAND

Our friends at www.saveourheartland.com are on a mission to protect the foothills and valleys of Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs from the threat posed by the Grid Link (pylon) project. They plan to hold two meetings in early September covering the Carlow County Development Plan. Please keep an eye on the "Save Our Heartland" twitter and facebook pages for updates.