DAERA commits £650,000 for outdoor recreation projects

Date published: 10 October 2019

DAERA has announced the commitment of £650,000 for projects to make it easier for people to connect with the natural environment.

Left to right - Joe Cassidy (Bann Valley Community Group), Aidan McPeake (Bann Valley Community Group), Mark Hammond (NIEA).

The projects will be delivered by not-for-profit organisations and councils working in partnership with local communities and landowners. 

Announcing the funding, DAERA Deputy Secretary for Environment, Marine and Fisheries Group, David Small said: “We are delighted to support the development of these opportunities to explore, connect with and enjoy our living, working, active landscape across Northern Ireland – our coasts, mountains, farmland, designated sites, suburban green space and rivers. The funding will enable development of 14km of walking trails and recreation infrastructure being created, restored or improved.  In addition it will facilitate development of a website to help scuba divers explore our marine habitats, opportunities for angling and research to shape the future development of outdoor recreation facilities.”

For the Bann Valley Community Group, this will enable the extension of their very well used community path network developed under a previous Environment Fund grant.

Welcoming the announcement, Bann Valley Community Group’s Aidan McPeake said: “Bann Valley Community Group are delighted to have been awarded this grant aid through the Environment Fund. Our Greenway Project has been a huge success so far in creating almost 3.5km of off road, safe pathways to walk, run and cycle through our community. The project initially set out to open up old paths which had been used for children getting to school in years gone by and was enhanced by the addition of new river walks to link up the path network.

“The scheme could not have happened if it wasn't for the partnership working which took place with all the landowners, Clady Angling Club, Mid-Ulster Council, local schools, Bann Valley Community Group and DAERA our funders. The next phase of Greenway will help link the two villages, Inishrush and Clady with the pathway, to increase accessibility and user numbers and enhance the health and well-being opportunities for all the people of our Community.”


Notes to editors: 

1. The Environment Fund is a grant programme to enable and incentivise not-for-profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental priorities across Northern Ireland.

2. The list of projects being awarded funding is as follows with a further two projects under consideration:

  • Accessible Portstewart Strand - Provision of fully accessible bathroom facilities to allow Portstewart Strand's Blue Flag beach (ASSI and SAC designated) to be enjoyed by people with additional mobility needs - National Trust - £44,867.
  • Arney Battlefield Community Trail - Creation of a 1.8km off-road rural walking trail linking community facilities, with interpretation about the Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits - Outdoor Recreation NI - £50,000.
  • Cabin Wood  - Improvements to the 1.9km of paths and visitor infrastructure Cabin Wood, Cookstown - Woodland Trust - £34,879.
  • Creggan Bog Local Nature Reserve Boardwalk - Creation of a 1.1km boardwalk to provide access across a 9 hectare raised bog along with interpretation to improve public understanding of species and habitats - Creggan Education and Research Services (An Creagán) - £35,200.
  • Dive Northern Ireland - Development of a new online resource to provide natural and historical heritage information about scuba diving sites around Northern Ireland's inshore marine waters - Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) - £40,000.
  • Greenlough Greenway Project - Construction of 1km pathway, incorporating 3 disabled angling points to make the final connection with Clady, Inishrush and the looped pathway - Bann Valley Community Group - £44,325.
  • Improving Access: Threemilewater Park - Creation of a 1.5km all-ability trail loop through a woodland linking the east and west sides of Threemilewater Park - Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council - £50,000.
  • Improving Accessibility in Crumlin Glen - Widening of the bridge spanning the Crumlin River to provide all ability access from the town centre to the trails in Crumlin Glen, along with interpretation - Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council - £15,000.
  • Mourne Path Improvement Project - Repair of erosion damage along the Glen River path on Slieve Donard, supporting conservation of the designated ASSI/SAC habitats, along with habitat restoration - National Trust - £40,460.
  • Murlough Boardwalk Restoration - Replacement of sections of boardwalk at Murlough National Nature Reserve to make them safe, provide suitable access for wheel chair users, and reduce visitors straying onto the surrounding habitat - National Trust - £22,760.
  • New Mossley Woodland Walk - Land acquisition and construction of 1km of pathways at New Mossley estate - Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council - £50,000
  • Outdoor Recreation Data and Research - Collection and analysis of data to enable future decision making for the priorities for the development of outdoor recreation facilities and resources across Northern Ireland - Outdoor Recreation NI - £48,960.
  • Slievenacloy and Balloo Wetlands walkways - Upgrade of 1 km paths and signage at Slievenacloy Nature Reserve in the Belfast Hills and restoration of 1/2km of paths at Balloo Wetland in Bangor to enable the site to be reopened to the public - Ulster Wildlife - £42,300..
  • Smith's Strand Nature Walk - Development of a fully accessible nature walk at Smith's Strand near Lisnaskea - Share Discovery Village - £41,422.
  • The Wildflower Way - Construction of the Wildflower Way / a 1.3km trail within Knockbracken Healthcare Park = The Advantage Foundation Ltd - £31,195.

3. Captions:

Photo 1 - left to right.  Mrs A Riddell (Local Walking Enthusiast), Willie Evans (Vice Chairman Clady & District Angling Club), Councillor Martin Kearney (Mayor of Mid-Ulster Council), Mark Hammond (NIEA), Aidan McPeake (Bann Valley Community Group), William Whyte (Landowner),  Frank McGill (Chairman Clady & District Angling Club), Thomas McErlean (Local Historian), Ciaran McAllister (Plotbox Survey & Drone Specialist), Joe Cassidy (Bann Valley Community Group),  Ms S Riddell (Local Walking Enthusiast), Front Row - Ella McPeake (Pathway Cyclist). 

Photo 2 – left to right., Joe Cassidy (Bann Valley Community Group), Aidan McPeake (Bann Valley Community Group), Mark Hammond (NIEA).

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5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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