STAKEHOLDERS MEET TO DISCUSS PLANS FOR GREENWAY
PLANS TO EXTEND GREENWAY TO 42KM AFTER €5M FUNDING SECURED
THE major stakeholders behind the Blessington E-Greenway met on Friday to discuss the next step in the development of the project, which recently secured €5 million in funding.
Currently 6.5km long, the completed greenway will cover 42.4kms of walking and cycling routes, mostly through forestry and woodlands, and will offers spectacular views of the lakes.
It is envisaged that the project will take around two years to complete, making the region Ireland’s first ‘E’ destination.
Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, thanked everyone involved with the project.
‘The funding of this project is a significant achievement for the Blessington Community and the county. This project will provide economic benefits to Blessington, west Wicklow and indeed the whole region. Working in collaboration with the Blessington Community and the ESB, this greenway will deliver a unique visitor attraction to ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ region, attracting local and international visitors to this idyllic County,’ said Mr Curran.
The E-Greenway encircles the Poulaphouca Reservoir - a major sustainable source of electricity generation. It will offer E Bikes as a major attraction with charging points along the route and forms part of a wider countywide project to promote E Cycling.
John Horan, Chairperson of Blessington Town Team, said: ‘It is really good news that Wicklow County Council is being allocated €5m towards the development of the new Blessington E-Greenway. Conservative estimates are that this new development will attract over 300,000 visitors annually from both home and abroad with a significant positive impact on the local, regional and national economies.
‘This is exciting news for Blessington and Wicklow for ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’. It is the culmination of many years of work by the local community led by Blessington Forum together with strong support from Wicklow County Council and the ESB. Well done to all involved. I look forward to continuing to do whatever I can to ensure that this new national and international tourism attraction is brought to fruition at the earliest possible date in 2021.’
Jim Dollard, ESB Executive Director, Generation and Trading, also welcomed the funding announcement.
He said: ‘As owners of 99 per cent of the land surrounding the Poulaphouca reservoir, ESB is proud to play our part in the next stage of the Blessington Greenway project. ESB has always been deeply rooted in the communities we serve and we are also making available the services of our engineering, property and other sections to help this exciting project come to full fruition. ESB’s involvement in the Greenway project is entirely in step with our values that seek to build a brighter, more sustainable future. I have no doubt that the extended greenway when completed will be enjoyed by the local community and visitors from further afield.’
It is estimated that for every €1 million of tourism revenue created by the greenway, 27 local jobs in the locality will be supported.
Cllr Irene Winters, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, said: ‘This investment is a huge boost, not only for Blessington, but for the whole of County Wicklow and the surrounding region.’
Speaking after Friday’s meeting, Health Minister Simon Harris said: ‘It was fantastic to meet the key stakeholders today and be able to confirm this multi million euro allocation to our County. This significant Government funding will transform tourism for west Wicklow. We know that greenways in other parts of the country, for example the Waterford Greenway, have transformed their regions. The benefits to local tourism and the local economy are phenomenal and these, added to the health benefits make a Greenway an invaluable community amenity for West Wicklow. This is a massive economic and social boast for our county.
‘Having organised and chaired many round-table meetings with the key stakeholders on this project, I am delighted the hard work of so many people dedicated to their community is coming to fruition. I want to thank the Blessington Town team and Wicklow County Council who have worked extremely hard on this,’ said Minister Harris.
John Horan of Blessington Town Team, Frank Curran, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Minister Simon Harris and Pat Fenlon, Director of Finance at the ESB, at last week’s gathering.