There's a setback for the ambitious Velo Rail project planned for Kiltimagh.

An Bord Pleanala has ruled that the plan by Mayo County Council to develop the old railway line into a tourist amenity with pedal-powered carriages is NOT exempt from planning permission.

However, it also ruled that work which has already been done to facilitate the change of use of the railway line to a Velo Rail does not require planning permission.

Government funding of over €300,000 from Minister Michael Ring's  Department of Rural and Community Development has been allocated towards the Velo Rail project, which is being developed by Kiltimagh IRD.

It's based on similar projects in France, and Kiltimagh IRD believe it could attract 30,000 visitors per year.

Work has been underway on the tourism project for the past two years, in terms of clearing and preparing the site along the old Claremorris to Collooney rail line.

However, the Western Rail Trail Campaign wants to see the railway line between Athenry and Collooney developed as a greenway.

The campaign, led by Brendan Quinn, referred the Velo Rail project in Kiltimagh to An Bord Pleanala.

In a statement to Midwest News, Mr Quinn said that - despite having attracted almost half a million euro in Government funding - the velo rail project is now effectively back at the starting blocks, and must now be the subject of a planning process, which will allow local concerns to be addressed.

Responding to An Bord Pleanala's ruling that the project is not exempt from planning permission, Mayo County Council said the decision gives clarity , and they're looking forward to advancing the project through the planning process as soon as is reasonably practicable.

The council said they're pleased that the Board has confirmed that works completed to date on the project are exempted from planning.