On the 20th July 2018 we were delighted to see the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Shane Ross officially launch the national Greenways strategy.
The Strategy sets out how National and Regional Greenways in Ireland should be planned and constructed and is backed by a fund of €53m for the years 2019 to 2021.
Minister Ross said: “I am delighted to be launching this Strategy today in our Hidden Heartlands. That brand, and indeed our other tourism brands all identify activity tourism as a key sector for sustainably growing tourism numbers in Ireland. This Strategy, is, I know, eagerly awaited around the country. People have seen the benefits that have accrued to towns along our Greenways to date, examples such as Newport on the Great Western Greenway, Kilmacthomas on the Waterford Greenway and here in Moate along the Old Rail Trail. Our goal is to replicate the success of those towns and those Greenways in other locations around the country. That is why we are focussing our investment on projects of scale, the common denominator of successful projects to date is that they are in the order of 40km and thus provide the opportunity to overnight in a new area.”
The Strategy sets out the importance of early and widespread consultation with landowners and communities along and adjacent to proposed Greenway routes. The Strategy also emphasises the need to minimise the impact on landholdings by minimising severance as far as possible and providing accommodation works such as fencing and underpasses where required. The Strategy also sets out the importance of access to Scenery and things to See and Do in order to attract tourists.
Minister Brendan Griffin stated: “We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country and Greenways provide an opportunity to experience that beauty up close and at a slow pace. Our Strategy will help us fund the spine of a network of greenways that can, over time, provide links to the rest of the countryside through quiet roads that will prove attractive to many people cycling. I know that Longford County Council is looking to identify a quiet route from the end of the Royal Canal Greenway in Clondra to Athlone, this will provide a wonderful triangular route from Mullingar along the Royal Canal to Clondra and then to Athlone returning to Mullingar on the Old Rail Trail.
Minister Griffin continued: “we must also remember that Greenways are for more than people cycling, statistics from our current Greenways show that in towns such as Moate there are more people walking than cycling and the important health benefits that accrue to users are another huge benefit for our country.”
Minister Ross concluded: “I am looking forward to examining the many worthwhile project proposals that we expect to receive over the coming months under the funding call, and I would urge local authorities and state agencies to consult widely with landowners and communities along proposed routes to bring agreed routes to fruition. This Strategy sets out how that consultation should take place and suggests the components that make for a successful Greenway.”
Ministers Ross and Humphreys launch EU INTERREG VA funded Ulster Canal Greenway Project between Smithborough, Co. Monaghan and Middletown, Co. Armagh.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, have today launched the EU-funded €4.95m Ulster Canal Greenway Project which will see the development of an off-road sustainable travel route between Smithborough, Co Monaghan and Middletown, Co Armagh.
The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project is also supported by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The project partners, led by Waterways Ireland, are Monaghan County Council, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and East Border Region Ltd.
Minister Ross stated “This is a wonderful initiative. Greenways connect communities, promote healthier lifestyles and encourage engagement with the outdoors. They also offer active travel opportunities for both pedestrians and cyclists and have proven to be a major attraction for visitors.
I’m very pleased to be launching Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Greenway here today. Creating a new Greenway involves years of planning, construction and goodwill from those in surrounding lands. But it’s a commitment that delivers back to the community in spades. This Greenway promises to be a major asset to surrounding areas, as it brings the old towpaths of the disused Ulster Canal back into use and extends the Monaghan Town Greenway by 22km in a very welcome cross-border project. By 2020, the Greenway will link Smithborough, Co Monaghan to Middleton, Co Armagh.
I very much look forward to making use of it in the future and I encourage you all to do likewise.”
The Ulster Canal Greenway (UCG) Phase 2 project is a pioneering move to develop the first sustainable transport alternative for cross-border commuters between Smithborough, Co. Monaghan and Middletown, Co. Armagh. Monaghan to Northern Ireland is the second highest of all South-North commuter flows, and Armagh to Ireland is the third highest of all North-South flows. The project valued at €4.95m aims to construct 22km of new cross-border Greenway by 2020 and actively to promote commuter behavioural change through a targeted community engagement programme. It will result in a 4.5% increase in the number of cross-border journeys via walking / cycling by 2023. The project is designed to connect with the completed Phase I section, which utilises the disused Ulster Canal to provide a highly strategic route linking the east/ west sides of Monaghan.
Minister Heather Humphreys in who’s constituency the Greenway will run, said at the launch
“I am delighted that Waterways Ireland, an agency under the remit of my own Department, have agreed to act as the lead partner for this flagship cross-border project. The first phase of the Greenway, here in Monaghan, already attracts over 100,000 users per year and has been a fantastic success since it opened in 2014. The further expansion of the Greenway will strengthen cross border relations by directly linking communities North and South of the border. The provision of this landmark recreational amenity will also provide a huge tourism boost for County Monaghan and the wider border region. “
Speaking at the event Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer with the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “When completed this cross border project will help to meet some important targets under the sustainable transport objective of the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme. It will encourage more people to get out of their cars and increase the number of cross-border journeys made by walking and cycling, thereby helping to reduce our collective carbon footprint.
“Not only will this produce many benefits for the region, but the project is also making a contribution towards the EU’s ‘Europe 2020’ strategy which has been specifically designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help safeguard the environment,” she continued.
Also attending the launch on the day were children from St John’s Primary School, Middletown, Co Armagh and Gaelscoil Ultain, St Marys Boys School and St Louis Girls School The extended Ulster Canal Greenway route will create the first cross-border greenway that will enable cyclists and walkers commute to work and study in future years.
The Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council Cllr Cathy Bennett stated ‘The 4km Monaghan Town Greenway has been a huge success and it attracts over 100,000 users annually. I am delighted that the INTERREG VA programme is supporting the next 22km section of the Ulster Canal Greenway. This new phase of the greenway will join communities north and south of the border, bringing huge benefits to our area and encouraging even more people to get out walking and cycling on a daily basis.’
Alderman Elizabeth Ingram, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council stated “A key facet of our vision is to engage and support initiatives that protect and safeguard our environment for future generations to come that is why we are delighted to partner up on the EU funded Ulster Canal Greenway project. Bringing about substantial environmental benefits whilst enhancing the quality of life in the area, this pioneering project will deliver an alternative and sustainable pathway for cyclists and walkers to commute between both sides of the border. The collaborative project highlights our commitment to growing a connected, welcoming and healthy community.”
The project will also contribute to a deepened level of partnership between key stakeholders and to the development of expertise and dissemination of best practice in delivering cross-border projects.
We’ve commissioned a short video to mark the launch of the Ulster Canal Greenway Project.
We’re excited that so many of you are so excited about our project!
And to help you to keep up to date with where the project is at in terms of its progress, we’ve put together a newsletter.
You can view the very first issue by clicking on the link below.
The Department of Transport Tourism and Sport has published a public consultation paper on a “Strategy for the Future Development of Greenways” and is inviting submissions from interested parties on the issues raised in the paper by 14 July.
Minister Shane Ross says:
“ The paper discusses a wide range of issues surrounding the development of greenways and poses a number of questions to prompt further debate and inform the development of an overarching Strategy for the future development of Greenways. The public consultation paper sets out the policy context for Government investment in Greenways, including their value from an economic, health, community and rural and regional regeneration perspective. It also references the significant tourism benefits that can accrue as well as providing a more sustainable transport option for many communities. Importantly, the paper seeks views from interested parties on some of the more contentious issues that have arisen in the development of some greenway projects and asks what approach should be taken to such issues in future.”
“Since becoming Minister I have been inundated with requests from all around the country for funding for Greenways. It is important that we target our investment in greenways that will deliver the most for their communities and for the country at large. The outcome of this public consultation will inform the development of a new Greenways Strategy to ensure that future funding is spent on the right projects, in the right areas and at the right time. To make sure that we take the right approach in future we need as many people as possible to give us their views during this public consultation process.”