Navan Cycling Initiative recently made a submission on the Boyne Greenway Public Consultation 2, detailing the Navan to Oldbridge Emerging Preferred Route
We are writing to you on behalf of the Navan Cycling Initiative (NCI), a community-based group advocating for improved active travel infrastructure in Navan and surrounding areas. NCI is a member of the Irish Cycling Campaign (formerly Cyclist.ie), the national advocacy network, which is the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation (www.ecf.com). Our aim is to make cycling in Navan and surrounding areas safe, enjoyable, and popular.
2 General Comments
Navan Cycling Initiative (NCI) warmly welcomes the Boyne Greenway, Navan to Oldbridge Emerging Preferred Route. We are very supportive of the overall Boyne Greenway project, and have campaigned for its delivery over the last number of years. Sections of the proposed Boyne Greenway in Navan, Slane and Drogheda have long since been a much-treasured trail for locals and visitors alike to enjoy and connect with the beauty the magnificent River Boyne has to offer.
Overall, NCI are supportive of the Emerging Preferred Route as presented during this public consultation and agree with the route in full. We commend Meath County Council and the consultants, Atkins, for the clearly defined maps and accompanying documents, as well as the website and video created for the route. We were also delighted to see and attend the recent in-person public meeting for the project in Slane.
We also agree with the decision to decouple the greenway project from the development of the Boyne Navigation restoration, as unfortunate as that is, given the time constraints and complexities involved. We do hope to see the latter progress at a later date.
We have some minor suggestions for the Emerging Preferred Route, outlined below.
2.1 Section A – Andy Brennan Park Navan to Broadboyne Bridge
This section is already well in use and very popular with walkers, cyclists and other users from the Navan ramparts as far as Broadboyne/Stackallen Bridge. We would also hope to see the north bank of the river (previously route A.2) developed at a future date for the people of north Navan and Blackcastle estates to easily access the greenway (this would require an additional bridge to join with the south bank).
We would also like to see the potential fast-tracking of this Navan-Stackallen section. This would naturally depend on the full route being awarded planning permission with all required assessments complete, as well as the availability of funding. But considering how much of this section is already developed it could potentially be delivered ahead of other sections.
2.2 Section B – Broadboyne Bridge to Slane
We agree with crossing over to the north bank at the Broadboyne Bridge and following the original canal and tow path. At Carrickdexter Castle we would like to see access from the greenway to the castle site and potentially an exit/entry point to the N51. Continuing on the north bank gives access to the grounds at Slane Castle which has the potential to be an excellent destination on the route. We note the exact location of the bridge to return to the south is yet to be determined but the location on the provided maps opposite the grounds south of Slane Castle would be preferable. The route then cuts inland before Slane Castle Lock, which is understandable in order to avoid the floodplain. We note, however, that this route has no direct connection to Slane village. We would recommend that the proposed Slane Bypass and Public Realm Enhancement Scheme includes safe, segregated cycling access across Slane Bridge and up Mill Hill (N2) to ensure that Slane businesses and residents can benefit in the best possible way from the greenway.
2.3 Section C – Slane (N2 Bridge) to Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre
Following the existing tow path, the preferred route cuts inland further up after Morgan’s Rosnaree Lock, which is understandable given the geographical restraints and gradient down to the river opposite Knowth. Where it rejoins the main Newgrange road, just after Rossnaree House, it is unclear if the greenway runs on or alongside the main road. This is a steep downhill and we would strongly recommend a fully segregated route alongside the main road as far as the Rossnaree Walk car park. The route then follows the existing tow path.
At the Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre, it remains to be seen what access, if any, will be permitted to the north bank. We understand the nature of keeping the preferred route on the south bank away from sensitive lands of the world heritage site in order to protect the archaeological and cultural landscape of the region. However, at the same time, the attractions of the three passage tombs locations at Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth are world-renowned historical landmarks along the route of the greenway, and as such we would strongly welcome some future consideration on how access to this area could be accommodated.
2.4 Section D – Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre to Oldbridge Estate
We note there are plans for the Boyne Valley National Park, at Dowth, and a future access point from the greenway to the park along this section, at a suitable location, would be a fantastic addition.
2.5 Section E – Oldbridge Estate
Remaining on the south bank and following the canal and well-used tow path around Oldbridge Estate is preferable. A developed access point to Oldbridge Estate from the south west boundary, just before Oldbridge Guard Lock, where there is an existing gate (pictured below), would also be beneficial to give greenway users an option to continue through the Battle of the Boyne site (with the permission of the OPW).
The first non-statutory Public Consultation for this section of the Boyne Greenway was published in March 2021. According to documentation in those plans, this second public consultation (the Emerging Preferred Route) was planned to take place around ‘Q3 2021’. However, this second public consultation was significantly delayed and published in December 2023, which is approximately two and half years behind the original schedule.
The 2023 Boyne Greenway EPR brochure states:
‘Following the completion of the Options Report and the identification of the Emerging Preferred Route in the end of 2021, the Approving Authority of greenways was changed from the Department of Transport (DoT) to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). Due to changes in the approval process, the scheme was halted for a certain period of time. In May 2022, TII undertook a peer review of the Feasibility and Options Assessment Report with comments and suggestions to be incorporate in an updated report. One of the main outcomes from the peer review was the requirement to undertake a flood modelling exercise of the potential flooding risk of the Emerging Preferred Route and its year-round availability. A flood modelling exercise was then carried out and a Flood Modelling Interpretative Report was prepared in May 2023.’
While we understand the significant importance of flood modelling, especially for a greenway of this nature, we question why it took this amount of time, and why this data was not fully completed in the original constraints and feasibility studies.
3.1 Official Plans
Official plans for the Boyne Greenway go back to 2010, when the National Cycle Network Scoping Study (subsequently developed in to the 2013 Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network) officially identified a key 52km greenway from Drogheda to Trim as ‘Corridor 13’ of the National Cycle Network. Following on from that, later in 2010 Meath County Council carried out a feasibility study for developing a greenway from Drogheda to Trim. Yet, since then, we have only seen 4km of the greenway complete, from Drogheda to Oldbridge, officially opened in 2014. Coupled with the latest delay to the second public consultation, it is now over 14 years since plans were first carried out for the Boyne Greenway.
It is clear that, in the past, this greenway has not been prioritised or given the proper attention it warranted by Meath County Council. We sincerely hope that now, 14 years later, with this emerging preferred route, the greenway will finally be given the utmost attention it deserves. Needless to say, greenways in Ireland have been one of the biggest success stories in recent years and have brought transformative economic and health benefits to local communities as well as a huge boost to tourism, and in terms of the Boyne Greenway, we firmly believe we have the jewel in the crown of Irish greenways. It is beyond time to deliver it.
3.2 Need for the greenway
In terms of the ‘Identification of Need’ and the need for the greenway, following the ‘Five S Criteria’ (Strategic, Scenic, See & Do, Sustainable, Segregated) outlined in the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways, we would argue that no greenway project in Ireland comes as close to satisfying these needs as the Boyne Greenway does.
Strategically, the full Boyne Greenway route will link with the East Coast Trail in Mornington and the Royal Canal Greenway / Dublin-Galway Greenway at Longwood, and connect to the Boyne Valley to Lakelands Greenway in Navan, and play a vital role in the National Greenway Network. In terms of Scenic and See & Do, the sheer amount of historical and heritage sites along the route has been well documented at this stage. Sustainably, the route will not only provide considerable health and social benefits, but provide a key transport link between the likes of Drogheda and Navan for commuters and encourage more people to cycle as a mode of transport.
The demand for the greenway from the people in Meath and Louth can also not be overstated enough. The Ramparts in Navan and Slane, for example, are extremely popular, yet these represent less than 10km of the overall 26.5km route from Navan to Oldbridge. There is a clear desire for people to be able to reconnect the river, and care for it, yet the majority of the river remains cut off from the public and runs predominantly on agricultural land. Having the greenway on or close to the river can help create a vegetated buffer between that land and the riparian zone, thereby improving its overall health and protecting its biodiversity.
Navan Cycling Initiative supports the Emerging Preferred Route as presented during the public consultation and we agree with the route in full. We have some minor suggestions for the Emerging Preferred Route, which we have outlined above.
We are very supportive of the Boyne Greenway and believe it to be a project of extreme importance for the region. We believe it can become the jewel in the crown of Irish greenways, and sincerely hope to see it progress through the next planning and design stages as soon as possible.
Navan Cycling Initiative