Sinn Féin Councillor, Cara McShane, has welcomed the Greenways strategy announced by the Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazard, recently.
Cllr McShane had engaged with various organisations in North Antrim since 2014 to discuss proposals for a Greenways project along the former Railway line between Ballycastle and Ballymoney.
Cllr Cara McShane said:
“This ambitious strategy announced by the Sinn Féin Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazard, is a positive step forward in realising the huge healthg, tourism and environmental potential that exists for a Greenways cycling and pedestrian scheme between Ballycastle and Ballymoney.
“Sinn Féin have in the past met with the former Ballymoney and Moyle Councils, Armoy Community Association and Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust, as well as representatives from Space and Place, NI Greenways and other stakeholders and will continue to dupport and push this project.
“I am delighted now that a strategy is in place and also welcome the £8k that has been announced by the Minister to aid Causeway Coast and Glens Council to carry out a feasibility study.
“This particular line has obvious tourism benefits. There are large populations at either end in the two towns and the train link at Ballymoney opens up to the Derry-Belfast-Dublin corridor for potential leisure tourism. It clearly adds an attractive dimension to visiting the Dark Hedges. Overall, the project has the potential to massively extend the tourism pull of Causeway Coast and Glens, as well as encouraging more leisure and positive lifestyle activities for individuals and families.
“While land ownership is a big challenge, there are good examples of how similar issues have been dealt with in the development of Greenways in England. No doubt, there will be huge expense in developing a Greenway between Ballycastle and Ballymoney railway – approximately 15 miles in length, however, the upsides for local economic development are massive. According to Sustrans, for example, the cost of developing the Great Western Greenway in Mayo, a 42k route, was 8 million euros, with an annual payback of 7 million euros.
“Sinn Féin will be working with the Council and all relevant stakeholders to ensure the project is adequately resourced and to secure community support and buy-in going forward.