COUNTY Councillors have unanimously rubberstamped planning permission for a Midleton to Youghal walking and cycling greenway that has been hailed as a game-changer for east Cork tourism.
The part 8 planning permission is for a 23km east Cork route along the former railway line between the two Cork towns.
Deputy Mayor Mary Linehan Foley said it was the start of something so positive on a derelict site and would be a massive boost for locals and tourists.
The Cork County Council will now apply to the €53m Greenway Government fund for the money to develop the recreational and tourism facility in East Cork and hope to lease the line from Irish Rail.
The greenway is estimated to cost between €10 to €15m.
Fine Gael Councillor Micheal Hegarty said the opportunities for the area were phenomenal, while Midleton Fine Gael Councillor Susan McCarthy said she fully supported the proposal and called it a gamechanger for tourism and for the local area.
Mrs McCarthy also said that Irish Rail was consulted for a significant amount of time about the railway and the possibility of reopening the track between Midleton and Youghal.
“It is absolutely not a viable option,” Mrs McCarthy said.
“To reopen the track would cost between €150-170m and there is a population in Youghal of 7,000.”
Despite this, Mrs McCarthy said that the greenway will be constructed in such a way that if it needs to be reconstructed as a working railway at another time it can be.
“If it was economically viable, I would support it,” Mrs McCarthy said.
Another Midleton Councillor Danielle Twomey said that she thought it would be extremely beneficial to the villages between Youghal and Midleton, while Frank O’Flynn said it would be a huge progressive development for Cork, Munster and Ireland.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Chris O’Sullivan said that not only did he support the motion, but he would like to see a similar project completed in West Cork areas, such as Clonakilty to Courtmacsherry and Skibbereen to Baltimore.
“It will be fantastic for East Cork. When it is completed, it will bring people in huge numbers. This is an area of recreation we need to roll out throughout the county. It is the way forward and I would like to see similar projects in West Cork.”