Emotions ran very high recently at a meeting of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council when the county manager informed councillors that he would be appointing a consultant to look at the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s (NPWS) objections to the proposed cycle and walkway, known as the Sutton to Sandycove (S2S) route.
Councillors agreed that appointing an environmental consultant to review the environmental constraints relating to the original project did not go far enough or reflect the objections of councillors to the Department of the Environment and NPWS’ refusal to allow the S2S to run along the coast between Blackrock and Booterstown, due to environmental issues around sand dunes and local birds.
The S2S would involve three local authorities, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council constructing a 22km cycleway running from Sutton on the north side of Dublin all the way to Sandycove on the south side.
Blackrock councillor Niamh Bhreathnach (Lab), who favours the S2S going ahead, told The Gazette: “The Department of the Environment is the lead department responsible for overseeing our adherence to EU directives.
“Once the bay was designated a conservation area new standards for protecting natural habitats came into force. Birds are winning hands down in Dun Laoghaire. Of course a full environmental impact assessment should be commissioned and a balance established.”
At a council meeting on June 10, another Blackrock councillor, Marie Baker (FG), said: “Looking at the Blackrock Local Area Plan we notice that the S2S has fallen off the page and given that we’ve a considerable amount of coastline in Blackrock, this is worrying to all. Is it that birds win over the people?”
Cllr Barry Ward (FG) spoke of the negativity he found among council officials in relation to driving the S2S project ahead: “Don’t let it [original S2S project] fall because of bureaucracy.
“Bringing the S2S inland at Blackrock Park is not a solution and defeats the idea of this promenade.”
County manager Owen Keegan replied that: “Nobody is more disappointed at the failure to advance this project than I am.
“I find it distasteful that councillors are blaming officials for designations made by two state agencies. That is very unfair.”