Wicklow People (West Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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