Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has allocated £16,000 to Mid Ulster District Council to take forward plans to develop local greenway paths.
The funding, allocated through his department’s small grants scheme, will be used to develop feasibility studies for two greenway projects, including Clogher Valley and Ulster Canal.
The proposed routes are part of a strategic plan for 1000km of greenway development across the north, launched by the Minister earlier today.
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.
Minister Hazzard said: “I am delighted to award £16,000 in funding to Mid Ulster District Council to develop feasibility studies for their proposals for greenways in this district. Developing the Clogher Valley and Ulster Canal greenways will boost not only the opportunities for active travel, but leisure and recreation opportunities and even cycling tourism - all of which should result in a more buoyant local economy.
“Of course, this is only part of the jigsaw and my strategic plan for greenways sets out a plan for pathways across the north and cross border, 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 and this will breathe new life in to this redundant infrastructure improving the quality of life for local communities and enhancing the experience for visitors.”
The Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Trevor Wilson, welcomed the funding: “I am delighted that proposals the Council submitted to the Department to develop feasibility studies for two greenway projects within the district, Clogher Valley and the Ulster Canal, have been approved and allocated this significant funding.
“In the long term, the planned developments to the two greenway areas will improve sustainable transport which will in turn promote a healthier lifestyle for residents, see less trafficked town centres and create an alternative activity/travel experience for tourists as well.”
Concluding 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.
“My strategic 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.
“I am currently considering a capital grant scheme to assist councils further in the delivery of their greenway schemes. Collaborating with councils has been a key part of the development process for this strategic plan and I look forward to working with Mid Ulster in the coming months and years.”
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..