Glenveagh parking pressures must be addressed – Doherty

It’s emerged the car park at Glenveagh National Park reached full capacity on 24 occasions this year, meaning cars were being turned away at the gates.

After getting the statistics in answer to a Dail question, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty says that urgent action must be taken to ensure that locals, and those who wish to visit the National Park, are accommodated.

Minister Darragh O’Brien told him a draft Visitor Experience Development and Management Plan is being drawn up.

Deputy Doherty says that’s welcome, but must be progressed speedily………..

 

Full text of question and answer –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 11/11/2021
Question Number(s)273 Question Reference(s): 47908/21
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: Pearse Doherty T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the number of times that Glenveagh National Park had to close in 2021 as a result of the car park reaching capacity; and if his Department has liaised with the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works to discuss the need for the expansion of the car parking facilities at Glenveagh National Park and to explain the adverse impact the current car parking limitations are having for tourism in the north-west.

REPLY

Glenveagh National Park is managed and owned by the National Park and Wildlife Service of my Department. The OPW has no role whatsoever in the management of car parking at this site.

At no point during 2021 has the National Park had to close as a result of the carpark being full. The car park itself, however, reached full capacity on 24 occasions during 2021, meaning for a limited period (usually less than 2 hours and generally between 12.30-2.30 pm) no further vehicular access was possible to the site, which remained open. Plenty of advance warnings were given through use of road signs and information on social media and our website.

My Department is well aware of the value of Glenveagh National park to the economy of the North West via tourism and it attracts more than 200,000 visitors to the region per annum. As the Deputy will appreciate, the National Park is first and foremost an area of high ecological natural heritage value and beauty. Capacity challenges in National Parks, nature reserves and scenic protected areas cannot simply be addressed through expanding car-parking alone. Any measures to reduce such pressures on habitats and natural amenities must be sensitive to their protected status and to the carrying capacity of the site itself.

In this regard, my Department has developed a draft Visitor Experience Development and Management Plan (VEDMP) for Glenveagh National Park  in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, working with a multi-disciplinary team at Consarc Design Group. The Plan will facilitate improved visitor access and address visitor capacity issues. The key objective of the VEDMP is to create a sustainable balance between enhancing Glenveagh as a major visitor destination based on outdoor recreation, trail networks, and direct experiences with nature, and conserving its natural, built and cultural heritage.  The VEDMP plan has been designed to be rolled out in interconnected phases over a number of years.

The range of features within the Plan is truly ambitious. They include, to name just a few:

  • a new visitor Gateway Hub and trailhead at the entrance to the Park;
  • repurposing of the existing visitor centre and of several historic estate service buildings;
  • construction of a new contemporary restaurant, shop and visitor services building;
  • enhancement and extension of trail network;
  • conservation and restoration of historic rooms at Glenveagh Castle;
  • expanded parking capacity.
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