A new leisure amenity designed to give East Cork an economic boost and aid a healthy lifestyle, has been shot down by Council top brass.
The plan is a concept drawn up by a group of up to 20 members currently working to create the new route, with public meetings due to take place shortly to gauge public interest in developing the scheme.
Cork County Council, on Monday (9 September), ruled out developing a Blue Way to complement the MY Way biking and walking trail, which is set to break ground along the Midleton to Youghal railway line.
The Executive made the statement following a Motion tabled by Sinn Fein Cllr Daniele Twomey seeking the establishment of the new amenity.
Blue Ways are multi-activity routes which incorporate both water and land based activities, offering something for everyone.
A number of Government Agencies are involved with Waterways Ireland in developing a network of Blue Way trails, including Canoeing Ireland, Sports Ireland Trails, Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities.
The Sinn Fein Cllr said, with the recent announcement by Tourism Minister Michael Ring and Bórd Failte of an €11million fund for the development of outdoor recreational projects, Council should “jump at the opportunity” to develop a Blue Way for East Cork.
Cllr Twomey said the slow tourism and public amenity, would complement the Greenway, stretching from Youghal’s Front Strand along the East Cork Coastline to Ballycotton and onto Ballinacurra’s South Quay.
Loops would be developed along the route to suit all abilities and disabilities, with a guide pointing out the heritage of the area, its flora and fauna.
Sections of the intended leisure track date back to 1826 and include a 20km looped walk between Ballycotton and Roche’s point, used by the Coastguard service to try and prevent the smuggling of wine and tobacco.
However, Council Director of Municipal District Operations and Rural Development, Niall Healy, in a written report to Council said “there are no immediate plans to develop a Blue Way in East Cork.” He said “the Council’s recreational priority is the Midleton to Youghal Greenway.”
Cllr Twomey said, while she was disappointed with the Council’s response, she would like to see a feasibility study on the proposed route which could be developed in the future.
Cllr Noel Collins, backing Cllr Twomey’s Motion, said “with protective fencing, if implemented, it would prove a very pleasant and recreational therapy particularly for the elderly.”
Green Party, Cllr Liam Quaide said “a Blue Way would be a major benefit for health and wellbeing, safeguard our waters from pollution, and our woods and walking trails from illegal dumping.”
The Midleton based Cllr said the initiative would also assist in areas such as Rostellan and Whitegate, realising their true tourist potential.
Fine Gael Cllr Susan McCarthy said “while Council is pushing forward the Youghal – Midleton Greenway, a Blue Way would complement that and is something that Council should proactively look at.”
East Cork Municipality Chairwoman, Cllr Mary Linehan, agreed with her fellow Cllrs stating that she, too, was “100% “behind the initiative.
The East Cork Municipal District is to discuss the project further next month.