Transport Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced a small grants programme for the development of greenway projects across Northern Ireland.
This competitive scheme is aimed at providing support for councils to work up projects that will be able to deliver a step change in greenway provision.
“I am delighted to be able to announce this new initiative. As a user of the Comber Greenway I recognise the value of greenways. They are an excellent way to enable people to incorporate activity into their everyday routine – whether as a means of travelling or for recreation and leisure. These off-road traffic-free routes provide a safe environment to give people the freedom and confidence to use the bicycle for everyday journeys.
“A number of councils have already undertaken work on greenways in their areas and I believe there is great potential to do much more. Providing support to councils in the development of greenways is one of the objectives set out in the Bicycle Strategy and this small grants programme is aimed at doing just that.”
The small grants programme will be a three stage competition to encourage councils to develop detailed designs and feasibility studies for local greenway projects:
Councils will be invited to express interest in the programme with a brief outline of the project or projects they would like to develop.
Up to eight of those projects will be selected and provided with a small grant of up to £8,000 to enable them to develop concept design options, a feasibility study and a business case.
Up to four of those projects will be selected and provided with a small grant of up to £25,000 to develop their designs in more detail and to provide a fully worked up project bid for assessment.
The Minister added:
“Work is continuing on a Strategic Plan for Greenways for Northern Ireland and I expect it to be available around the end of April. This plan will provide a framework to assist Councils in developing their proposals for this competition and I will be writing to them with details of the small grants programme for greenways after Easter.”
Excellent news as the greenways vision for Northern Ireland gathers momentum towards the 2016 Assembly elections.
There are at least four of 11 local councils already actively engaged in feasibility studies or with project plans at advanced stages, so this competition can help to encourage more areas to consider the economic possibilities of greenway development.
I understand the Department will look to ‘devolve’ the creation of greenways to councils, while retaining an overarching role in standardisation of route quality, signage and so on. Exciting times for Northern Ireland.