Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has given the green light to 1000km of greenways, as he publishes his Strategic Plan to develop a network of greenway paths across the north including cross border connections.
The paths, for use by walkers, runners and cyclists young and old, will be traffic free and many will utilise disused railways, riverside paths, abandoned canal towpaths or flood embankments, reinventing them for use for generations to come.
Speaking during a visit to a potential greenway on a disused railway track outside Dundrum, Minister Hazzard said:
“More and more people are choosing to be active with their travel options and encouraging everyone to lead a more active, healthy life by providing local opportunities is something I and my Executive colleagues are determined to deliver.
“This plan is the pathway to help deliver those opportunities for people across the north, focusing on the development of a 400km primary and 600km secondary greenways network that walkers, runners and cyclists can share. The greenway paths will connect towns and cities to the villages and countryside from east to west and north to south, and will also be integrated with other modes of transport, making it easier for people to leave the car behind.
“Many of the proposed schemes are located on disused railways, riverside paths, abandoned canal towpaths or flood embankments. This will breathe new life in to this redundant infrastructure and create public spaces where people can meet, relax, play or enjoy nature, improving the quality of life for local communities and enhancing the experience for visitors.
“One of my key priorities as outlined in the Programme for Government is to help transform how we travel by increasing the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport which will enhance the region as a place where people want to live and work, to visit and invest.”
Minister Hazzard also announced the local councils who have secured funding to support and develop greenway projects in their area, under a small grants competition. He continued:
“I am delighted that councils have been part of the development process for this strategic plan and I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years. To demonstrate my commitment I have more than doubled the initial funding for the grants scheme from £64,000 to £160,000. This means that feasibility studies can be worked up on twenty different proposals right across the north to help councils deliver greenways in their areas in line with this Strategic Plan.
“The competition received a high volume of quality greenway proposals and I am currently considering a capital grant scheme to assist councils further in the delivery of their greenway schemes.”
Jonathan Hobbs from the NI Greenways campaign said: “It's encouraging to see so many councils proposing visionary greenway projects across the country, with support from the Department for Infrastructure to realise their vision. This is an exciting first step towards creating a world class greenway network, which will be a welcome investment in rural development and active travel, enhancing our tourism offering and creating long term employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.”
Minister Hazzard concluded:
“This plan sets out a framework for a more informed and strategic programme to develop greenway routes across the whole of the north. While the overall target is ambitious and long term, this is a starting point on which to build a lasting legacy for future generations.”
A copy of the Strategic Plan for Greenways can be viewed or downloaded from https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/exercise-explore-enjoy-strategic-plan-greenways.
Notes to editors:
STRATEGIC PLAN FOR GREENWAYS
1. Printed copies of the Greenways strategy are available on request by emailing: email@example.com or by phoning 028 9054 0006.
2. Providing support to councils in the development of greenways helps to increase safety for people using bikes which is a key objective in the Bicycle Strategy. This was published in August 2015 and recognised how councils were developing greenway schemes in isolation with no overall strategic approach.
3. Councils provided information on a number of schemes, all of which are included in the Strategic Plan. However, the information provided by Councils was only one element in identifying an initial network.
SMALL GRANTS PROGRAMME:
4. This is a three stage competition. Under Stage 1 Councils were invited to submit Expressions of Interest. The £160,000 grants will enable successful councils to develop concept design options through a feasibility study for their proposed greenway schemes in Stage 2. For Stage 3 a number of the highest quality feasibility studies will be selected to each receive £25,000 to develop a full business case and detailed design for their proposal.
5. The councils to receive the funding are as follows:
Ards and North Down - three grants (£24,000 in total. £8,000 to each greenway scheme)
- Comber to Newtownards greenway;
- Orlock Point to Donaghadee greenway; and
- Orlock Point to Holywood greenway.
Fermanagh and Omagh - two grants (£16,000 in total. £8,000 to each greenway scheme)
- Enniskillen to Clones greenway; and
- Omagh to Carrickmore greenway
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon - Four grants (£32,000 in total, £8,000 to each greenway scheme)
- Craigavon to Aghagallon greenway;
- Portadown – (North of) Moy greenway;
- Banbridge to Scrava greenway; and
- Portadown – Caledon (via Armagh) greenway.
Newry, Mourne and Down - four grants (£32,000 in total. £8,000 to each greenway scheme)
- the Carlingford Lough greenway;
- Downpatrick to Newcastle greenway;
- Downpatrick to Ardglass greenway; and
- Comber to Downpatrick greenway.
Antrim and Newtownabbey - one grant (£8,000)
- Doagh to Larne greenway;
Lisburn and Castlereagh - one grant (£8,000)
- Carryduff greenway;
Causeway Coast and Glens - one grant (£8,000)
- Ballymoney – Ballycastle greenway.
Derry and Strabane - one grant (£8,000)
- North West Greenway.
Mid and East Antrim - one grant (£8,000)
- Greenisland Greenway.
Mid Ulster - two grants (£16,000 in total. £8,000 to each greenway scheme)
- Clogher Valley Greenway; and
- Ulster Canal Greenway.
6. Media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press office on 028 9054 0007. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
7. See photos from the Department for Infrastructure in our Flickr Collection: https://www.flickr.com/photos/niexecutive/collections/72157669044006236/
8. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra.