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2005-03-29 00:29:47
"Pat Vance, F.F.,Wicklow County CouncilWicklow County CouncilEmail: PVance@wicklowcoco.ie" from CaptainVertigo Contract pics
Picture: Pat Vance, F.F.,Wicklow County CouncilWicklow County CouncilEmail: PVance@wicklowcoco.ie (Contract pics)
In mid March 2005 Wicklow County Council agreed to delete a total of 33 existing access routes (including some of the best-known walking routes in the county) from the county development plan.

A special policy committee on planning chaired by Fianna Fail's Pat Vance will make its final report by June when it is expected that the majority of these routes may be inserted back into the development plan
Cllr Vance told council members that a great deal of good work had been achieved since the committee was set up last year and that the vast majority of landowners and interested parties involved were willing to deal with the council in a spirit of cooperation.

'We are consulting with a number of groups and have reached 95 per cent agreement on four to six of the 33 routes already. The major issue that keeps coming up is insurance and maintenance of access routes,' Cllr Vance said.

'We have discussed this with the law agent and reckon we could handle both of those issues which is a big break through. Of course, the insurance and maintenance will only be provided on agreed access routes,' he said.

Cllr Vance acknowledged that a number of difficulties would have to be overcome if all routes were to be agreed upon, but if those involved applied the same attitude as those already spoken to, then Cllr Vance was relatively confident that the majority could be agreed upon by June.

'We are approaching this in the way of partnership and agreement and are not trying to foist access routes on people who do not want them.'

The access routes had initially come before the council last July and were included in the plan by council management much to the annoyance of some councillors.

Proposing their omission from the development plan, Independent Cllr Christopher Fox said a lot of misinformation had been bandied about in relation to the access routes. 'I would like to remove them from the plan and let the committee get on with its job,' he said.

Glendalough based Cllr Pat Casey said the matter needed to be resolved from a tourism point of view. He stated that three other routes not included in the original list of 33 should also be excluded from the development plan.

'There is no point treating these three routes any differently and we should remove them also,' he said. However, this proposal was later rejected by the acting county manager, Bryan Doyle who said that only the routes that had been advertised could be removed from the development plan at this stage.

Meanwhile, Cllr Pat Doran said he was delighted with the progress that had been made to date but argued that a proper code of conduct would have to be introduced to protect both the rights of walkers and those of landowners. 'Without a proper code of conduct we will not get the agreement of landowners,' he claimed. Acting council chairman, Andrew Doyle of Fine Gael echoed the comments of his colleagues by saying a great deal of progress had been made on the issue in recent months.

'I was hesitant about this variation coming forward but I hope that up to 20 of the routes can be put back in by June,' he said.

'They may be called something else but we are hopeful that we can get agreement on them. 'The committee that has been set up is dealing with this in a positive manner and there is a willingness by all concerned to address this in a positive manner,' Cllr Doyle concluded.

The matter was put to a vote and the deletion of the 33 access routes from the county development plan was carried 13 votes for, two against.http://www.wicklow.ie/planning/devplan%20maps/map12B.jpg
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