FEARS that a scenic walkway in Donegal could soon be closed off to the public have been allayed.
A popular route along the shores of Lough Gartan has been used by many people, particularly walkers, for decades.
Notice that management of the Gartan Outdoor Education and Training Centre have submitted planning permission for a new ‘access control fence’ at the site led to concerns that the route would be inaccessible.
Churchill-based Independent Donegal County Councillor Michael McBride says he has spoken with management at the Gartan Outdoor Education and Training Centre.
“I have been assured that then intention is not to block off the avenue or to stop people from walking or cycling,” Cllr McBride told Donegal Daily.
“Several people have come to me asking what’s happening. A lot of people walk in from Gartan Bridge and around in a loop. Some people will park at the Colmcille Heritage Centre and a lot walk along the lake. The management say that the intention is not to stop people from being able to do this.
“I am assured, after putting in a query, that the intention isn’t to block walkers and cyclists, but to protect the property and the safety of the people using the centre.”
Locals and others who regularly use the route for walking or cycling became concerned when a planning notice was erected on the approach lane to the outdoor pursuit centre.
“Generations of people have enjoyed this walk,” one regular user said.
“There is a lot of concern that the walk, which has been opened for years, will be blocked off. It all looked a bit underhand and heavy-handed.”
The planning application seeks for permission for the provision of a new access control fence with associated gates and landscaping to the edge of the existing access road.
The proposed fence is to be located along the northern edge of the existing road for 625m.
Documents accompanying the application say: ‘The proposal seeks to provide a managed and secure access route to the lough via the existing boathouse or education and training centre.’
Cllr McBride has been assured that leisure activities will still be possible for the general public.
He said: “I spoke to them before the planning application went in and, after the Bank Holiday weekend, I was approached by a lot of people again.
“I am told that the fence will be more in towards the actual building. They say they plan to put a four-foot high fence along the right-hand side of the avenue. It is an ETB building and they have groups there for activities at the boathouse so it seems to be to try and stop the general public from mixing through those groups.”