Flagship Navan to Oldbridge Greenway link moves closer

A PLANNING application for the proposed Boyne Greenway linking Navan with Oldbridge is expected to be lodged towards the end of this year.

Meath County Council is proposing a flagship tourism scheme "of regional, national and international significance which will showcase the wealth and diversity of cultural, industrial and built heritage within the Boyne Valley."

The route will be adjacent to some of Ireland’s most significant visitor attractions on the East Coast including Slane Castle, the Battle of Boyne site and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Brú na Bóinne.

The project will also include the restoration of the Boyne Navigation from the canal harbour in Navan to the Oldbridge Guard Lock.

Meath County Council has appointed WS Atkins consultants to design "a safe, attractive and environmentally sympathetic canal and river walking and cycling route" between Andy Brennan Park in Navan and the main gates of Oldbridge Estate, Drogheda in tandem with the restoration of the Boyne navigation route.

The completed scheme will provide "a high-quality walking, cycling and navigation route with connectivity to key towns and villages which will encourage physical activity and create a sense of ownership among the adjacent communities."

The stretch of the Boyne Greenway is approximately 26.5km in length and will also link with the Athlumney to Trim Road Cycle and Pedestrian Scheme.

The scheme is currently at route option identification and canal condition identification stage and public consultation, in relation to the Greenway Route Options, will take place this month.

"This development is a game changer for the entire Boyne valley region in terms of developing local tourism and the associated economy," said Cllr Edward Fennessy.

"The Greenway route takes in some of the best scenery and historic sites we have to offer in Ireland, I'm in no doubt it will be a huge draw for international tourism."

Cllr Tommy Reilly said the Greenway and Navigation would be a massive tourist attraction and surrounding areas and he hoped it would be progressed as soon as possible.

"Money was allocated for that project as far back as 1994 when Noel Dempsey was Minister, but the Government fell and it never went ahead."

Cllr Padraig Fitzsimons said it was a very important project for Navan and all along the route. "It would be a major bonus to tourism but also for local people."

The consultants have been tasked with progressing the plans to oral hearing and Meath County Council has promised there will be consultation with stakeholders and the public.

It is currently expected that a planning application will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala in late 2021.

To date, study area identification, data collection in the form of topographical surveys and walk-over surveys, and constraint identification have taken place in addition to ongoing stakeholder and landowner engagement.

Overall funding requirements have not yet been fully established and no application for funding for construction will be sought until after the planning process has been completed.