The North West Greenway Network, a network of 46.5 km of cross-border cycling and walk routes, has been launched by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross.
It is hoped that the €14.85m project will help reduce carbon emissions by encouraging commuters to leave their cars at home.
The project is the largest of three separate greenways to be funded under the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
The network was officially launched today at An Grianán Hotel, Burt.
Route 1 runs from Derry via Pennyburn and the Bridgend border to Buncrana and Letterkenny via Tooban junction. The 32.5km route this includes a link from Inch Nature Reserve to Newtowncunnigham. Route 2 will be a 10.5km route from Muff village to Derry via Culmore.
The third route is a 3.5km section from Strabane to Lifford via Lifford Bridge.
Project partner Sustrans has appointed an Active Travel Officer who will undertake a widespread engagement programme with local schools, workplaces and community groups to raise awareness of the greenway, during its construction, and encourage more sustainable methods of travel.
A catchment area has been identified within which route corridor options are being appraised and a final road map for the project will be agreed upon over the coming months. Throughout the spring and summer, route options will be presented to the public, for comprehensive feedback, at a series of widely publicised public engagement events to be held in venues across both council areas.
Match funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland.
While welcoming the launch of the cross-border North West Greenway Network, Mr. Shane Ross said: “We have an opportunity, through our commitment in the Programme for Partnership government, and in our new National Planning Framework and National Development Plan to build more greenways throughout Ireland and to provide more localities with the opportunity to benefit from such investment in the same way as communities in Mayo, Waterford, Monaghan and Armagh. On the day that’s in it I must also acknowledge and thank all those involved in delivering this initiative; the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), my officials in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council and Sustrans. I very much look forward to making use of it in the future and I encourage you all to do likewise.”
The Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Gerry McMonagle also welcomed the official launch of the greenway initiative saying: "The greenway network is another tangible example of both councils working closely together to deliver growth and sustainability to the north-west region. He concluded: "The Project Partners welcome this cross-border collaboration and SEUPB’s commitment to Donegal, Derry and Tyrone."
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