A file photo of joggers on the Boyne Trail boardwalk at Oldbridge.
The development of the Boyne Greenway, or Boyne Trail as it is called, received a considerable boost today when it was announced that it is to receive funding of €200,000.
The Boyne Greenway is one of 78 projects nationwide to benefit to the tune of almost €11 million from today’s announcement by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD and Ms Orla Carroll, Director of Strategic Development with Fáilte Ireland from the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
Geoff Fitzpatrick, one of the founding members of the Committee which first mooted the idea of the Boyne Greenway some seven years ago, was very upbeat about the prospects for the project this morning.
He told Drogheda Life that he looked upon this latest round of funding as a huge vote of confidence in the project. The Boyne Greenway received €92.5K under the same scheme this time last year.
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He said that the money would bgo to Meath County Council who are the lead local authority on the project and would be used in their preparatory work to get the 7km Mornington to Drogheda section of the greenway “shovel ready” and hopefully ease its passage through the planning process.
This, he said, would open up the whole of the Meath coast area and upstream along the Boyne as far as Oldbridge and hopefully as far as Newgrange and beyond. “At long last it’s coming together!” he said.
He said that the Council had been making good progress on the project and he expected the planning application would be going in very shortly.
Fitzpatrick predicted that, now that Fingal County Council has signed up to a greenway along the coast from Balbriggan, the whole idea was getting a lot more attractive to government bodies.
“If it goes to part eight of the planning process, which it looks like it will, it will get through very quickly” he said. “If it has to go to An Bord Pleannala however, nobody knows, it could take a year or more."
If everything goes to plan it could all happen very quickly because the case is now proven now thanks to the huge success of (similar projects) at Westport and Dungarvan which have both been very successful.
Mr. Fitzpatrick said that he had visited the Dungarvan walkway last summer and, although it had been open for less than a year, it had completely transformed the whole area. "It has been off the scale in terms of the effect it has had” he said.
Making the announcement today, Minister Ring said there has been a huge increase in the number of Irish and overseas visitors enjoying the many Greenways, blueways and walking trails which have been developed around the country in recent years generating income for rural areas and helping to create more jobs in the hospitality and leisure sectors.
“Figures available from Fáilte Ireland reveal that in 2017, 26% of all overseas tourists engaged in some level of hiking or cross-country walking. This equates to 2.3 million tourists, spending an estimated €1.3bn during their stay in Ireland. A further 451,000 overseas tourists took part in cycling activities.
Local TD Fergus O’Dowd said that he very much welcomed the significant funding made available by Minister Ring TD for this and two other projects in County Louth, the Rampart Blackwater Riverwalk in Dundalk which received €100,000 and the Riverside walk in Ardee, which received €88,000.
“This funding will greatly enhance our outdoor recreational facilities for local residents and tourists alike” he said.