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Matthews announces progress on Wicklow to Greystones coastal route

Green Party TD Steven Matthews has announced a major step forward in progressing the coastal walking and cycling route between Wicklow and Greystones with the appointment of a consultancy of engineers, planners and ecologists for a detailed environmental assessment and design.

‘The coastal route between Wicklow and Greystones is incredible in terms of scenery and ecological diversity and in places has the highest level European environmental protection for birds and habitats. From the outset of the idea of a coastal route, I was insistent that the route must avoid the environmentally sensitive locations and provide benefit not just to tourists and local businesses but also to residents. Through my colleague, Minister Eamon Ryan’s Department of Transport we secured the funding to carry out a detailed design which should include Environmental and Natura Impact Assessments, public consultations and a route selection to bring to planning permission stage.’

‘If we protect the sensitive habitats, this route can bring tourism opportunity to local business in Wicklow Town, Kilcoole, Newcastle and Greystones. It will also provide a designated route for users and reduce the opportunity to stray into sensitive landscapes and habitats causing further erosion or damage.

Throughout the process over the recent years, I have been engaging with town teams in Greystones and Wicklow, Wicklow County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and interested residents and environmentalists. The priority of this route will be environmental protection and enhancement followed by accessibility, residential amenity, supporting local business and improving the tourism offering Wicklow.

I expect that the full assessment and detailed design to bring a planning application will take 12 months and this also allows for seasonal environmental assessments for certain species but especially for bird species. The Murrough Special Protected Area (SPA) is designated under the Birds Directive for important birds including the Greylag and Brent Goose, Herring Gulls and the Little Tern, whose colony has been brilliantly protected and managed by Birdwatch Ireland over the years. Whilst the Murrough Wetlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protects habitats including Alkaline Fens and Salt Meadows. These areas are well protected under EU law and works are not permitted which would impact on the conservation objectives for the sites. We are in an extreme biodiversity loss emergency, and I am insistent that environmental protection will be the priority of this coastal route.



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