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Council backs move to extend Monaghan’s multi-million Euro greenway

Further progress has been made in plans to create a new local greenway which would link Middletown and Tynan, Armagh I can reveal.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has agreed to support an application for funding by Monaghan County Council for the further development of the greenway – a safe cycle and walking trail away from roads and traffic – in the south.

And it has agreed to spend £15,000 towards commissioning a multi-disciplinary team to develop the northern element of the project.

A greenway is a name used all over Europe and the United States to describe such trails, which typically use abandoned rail lines and canal banks.

They offer people of all ages and abilities access to the countryside and have proven to be very popular with tourists across Europe, with the Great Western Greenway – between Westport and Achill Island – attracting over 200,000 users each year.

Monaghan County Council has already developed 4.2km of greenway through Monaghan town; it opened in November 2013 and has been used by nearly 50,000 people to date.

Working in partnership, with the Blackwater Regional Partnership, the ABC Council and Monaghan County Council, it is hoped to develop a greenway from Monaghan Town to Tynan using the Ulster Canal Corridor and the disused railway line.

This would then link existing greenways in other parts of the country at a later stage – namely Newry Canal Way, and via Belfast to the Comber Greenway and Connswater Greenway. This will allow visitors to travel from Belfast to Donegal, Sligo and Galway, using safe, purpose-built greenways encouraging a modal transport shift.

It is proposed the land required for the greenway will be leased, with a clause that the land must revert back to the owner if the greenway is not successful.

Initial research carried out to date shows it is currently not feasible to take this project beyond Tynan, but councillors have been told that, by not proceeding with this initiative from the border to Tynan, it would have a major detrimental impact on Monaghan’s ability to attract substantial Interreg V Funding.

Monaghan County Council will be establishing a greenway from Mongahan town to the border at Middletown, which will lead to an investment in excess of €2 million.

Councillors have been informed that this certainly should have benefits for the local tourism and leisure portfolio within Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

It would be the intention to support Monaghan County Council in their bid by developing a greenway from the Middletown border to Tynan, and by doing so, establishing the cross-border element, and enabling the submission of a Funding Application to Interreg V.

This would require commissioning the services of a multi-disciplinary team to assist with the development of the greenway, its route and technical specification.

Officers have suggested this would require a budget in the region of £15,000 which could be recovered if the funding application was successful.

As Armagh I previously reported, Monaghan County Council has been working with councils north of the border to extend the greenway – which currently runs for two miles through Monaghan town – from Castlesaunderson and on to Clones, Monaghan, over the border to Middletown.

It had been hoped to go from there via Tynan to Blackwatertown and Charelmont, and from there, to link via Loughgall to the Armagh-Portadown greenway.

But it now seems, for the present, it would only stretch to Tynan – initially at least.

Picture: Children enjoying the greenway in Monaghan. (Picture courtesy of www.monaghantourism.com)

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