Kildare County Council Planning Authority,

Aras Chill Dara,

Devoy Park,


Co. Kildare

Re: Planning Application #1781, Waterways Ireland proposed development on the Barrow Navigation

Dear Sir / Madam,

I write in connection with the above planning application. I wish to strongly object to the development proposed on the following grounds:

·        The grassy Barrow towpath was selected by the Irish Times in 2015 as one of the top five finest tourist attractions in the whole of the island. Tourism Ireland’s PromEx Study has recorded the reasons why German tourists find Ireland unique: “the green landscape”, “the unspoilt nature.” As it is the stated policy of Kildare County Council in the County Development Plan “to protect tourism amenities within the county from insensitive or inappropriate development, particularly any development that threatens the tourism resources and tourism employment in the county” this planning application, which seeks to fundamentally alter this unique tourism asset and amenity, goes against the development plan for Kildare.

·        The proposed development will create health and safety difficulties. As it is cyclists, walkers and anglers all share the towpath and the current surface dictates a pace which accommodates all users. This proposed development will enable speed and create conflict between walkers and cyclists. This point is confirmed by the response by Mr Gerry Dornan of Kildare County Council to the River Barrow Cycling Trail Feasibility and Technical Specification Report. Specifically Mr Dornan states that a 2.5m shared use trail will “create conflict with pedestrians as a result of inadequate space for cycling.”

·        The National Trails Office Guide to Planning and Developing Recreational Trails in Ireland indicates that a sustainable trail is required “to be valued and supported by the local communities”. The Save the Barrow Line petition to save the grassy sod surface has approximately four thousand signatures proving that the Blueway proposals are not valued. In addition the results of the WI survey carried out to coincide with their public information sessions were that 84% of respondents felt that the proposal will have “no positive contribution to community life, jobs, local groups or businesses” (WI have omitted this detail from their planning application – see section 6.3 of their “Supporting Information document.)

·        Furthermore, the National Trails Office states that “sustainable management (for trails) is defined as - meeting the needs of today without negatively impacting on future generations’ right to enjoy the same.” The Barrow Blueway will negatively impact on future generations: it is unmaintainable, situated as it is on the bank of a river which floods almost every year. Indeed the Irish Trails guidelines are explicit in this regard “Flash Flooding Areas that are subject to occasional or seasonal flooding should be avoided.”

·        Otters (Lutra lutra) are protected under the Wildlife Acts and listed in Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive. The pre-planning scoping response for this planning application by Mr Michael Murphy, Development Applications Unit of the Department of Arts Heritage, states 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.” Furthermore, the NPWS Otter Conservation Status Report indicates that localised reduction of Otter habitat happens with “clearance of riparian vegetation.” As the development is proposed within the 10m buffer and involves removing riparian vegetation the proposal will negatively impact on the Otter and Otter habitat.

·        The pre-planning scoping response to this proposal by Mr Michael Murphy, Development Applications Unit of the Department of Arts Heritage, states that “care should be taken to ensure that green infrastructure involves greening existing infrastructure rather than adding built infrastructure to existing biodiversity corridors”. This proposal is in contravention of the EU Green Infrastructure Strategy as it removes green infrastructure and replaces it with built infrastructure.    


Yours faithfully,