The green light has been given to a planning application for an underground footpath at the world famous Dark Hedges.
The application has been described as ‘innovative’ by DUP MLA Maurice Bradley.
The East Londonderry representative said: “This application will not only attract increased visitor numbers to the area, made famous by Game of Thrones, but it will also protect the historic site.”
The application will see alterations to the internal road layout to provide a one-way system, a pedestrian pathway from a café through an underpass below the Ballinlea Road to the iconic Dark Hedges.
“I heard about this idea some time ago,” admitted Bradley, who spoke exclusively to Causeway Coast Community back in January.
“It is certainly innovative, and will alleviate traffic concerns in the area. I also think it will enhance the overall visitor experience at one of our area’s top tourist attractions.
“It would be good if the underpass is themed highlighting how the iconic trees became a global attraction through the Game of Thrones series.
“These trees are a natural phenomenon, and it is vital that the area is protected. Any attempt to reduce traffic in the area must also be welcomed.
“The over use of this area by buses and cars has already caused damage to the trees – it is vital that they are protected for future generations to enjoy.”
Bradley went on: “I’m confident that this project will benefit tourism and encourage visitors to spend more time in the area.
“At present, coaches are driving up to the trees causing physical damage to branches and root systems, tourist get off buses and out of cars, take a quick snap and go one their way.
“We need to be more inventive to keep tourists in the area, so that they can take advantage of other facilities nearby and I believe that this project will encourage this.
“I have no doubt that this project will make one of our area’s biggest tourist attractions even more exciting, “concluded the MLA.