SLNCR Abbey Loop, Dromahair
Funding for Leitrim's two proposed greenways this year may be impacted by a massive underspend from 2016 funds and a long delay in construction due to ongoing negotiations with affected landowners.
The underspend of €268,196 between the SLNCR through north Leitrim and the Cavan Leitrim Railway project which was revealed by Minister Micheal Ring in the Dáil last week could see Leitrim County Council penalised and future funding delayed or impacted.
However it is anticipated that €600,000 will be announced for the SLNCR route this month from Minister Shane Ross' Department.
Leitrim County Council told the Observer they “are in discussions with landowners within our administrative area that are affected by these projects. Once agreements have been put in place with all the landowners affected, the construction phase of the projects will then begin.”
Supporter of the project, Cllr Sean McDermott, said he was not aware of any delay or issues with landowners and said it would be “very disappointing if there was a delay in funding this year as all efforts are being made to push this project through.”
Minister Ring informed Sinn Féin's Deputy Martin Kenny that the council had been informed “that unspent 2016 funding would be offset against future payments.”
Planning, design and tender for these projects have been completed.
Deputy Martin Kenny asked Minister Michael Ring in the Dail last week for an update on the two proposed greenway funding applications for Leitrim.
Minister Ring told the Sinn Féin TD that in 2016 “Leitrim County Council received €401,354 in funding for three projects under the Outdoor Recreation Scheme, which included €135,000 for the Sligo Leitrim Northern Counties Railway (SLNCR) project and €190,000 for the Cavan and Leitrim Railway Greenway Pilot Project. It is now more than two years since this funding was provided to the local authority.”
He said despite the council being informed that unspent 2016 funding would be offset against future payments, as of April 25 this year, Leitrim County Council reported a total underspend of €268,196 with respect to the SLNCR and Cavan and Leitrim Railway Greenway pilot projects.
Minister Ring said the council have made a case for the delay and this is “under consideration at the moment and my officials will revert to the local authority in due course.”
Leitrim County Council said they are still in discussions with landowners and construction can begin when agreements are put in place.
Last month they said, “In order to advance the 58km in Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan an application seeking developmental costs of €635,000 was submitted and we are hopeful of funding in June.”
Cllr Sean McDermott said a letter from Arlene Foster has been sent to the Minister relaying her support for the cross border greenway and “all efforts” are being made to convince the minister to provide the funding.