Northern Ireland

NI greenways plan 'needs major investment'

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard and Jonathan Hobbs from NI Greenways walk along the old railway track near Dundrum, as the Minister launches his plan to develop 1000kms of greenways paths across the north, 9 November 2016 Image copyright Michael Cooper
Image caption Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard is making £160,000 available to councils which want to bring forward detailed proposals

A charity that campaigns to get people out of their cars has welcomed proposals for 1,000 km (620 miles) of greenways, but says major investment is needed to make them a reality.

Sustrans says the network of walking and cycling routes could have huge benefits.

It adds it will take "long-term capital investment" by the Stormont Executive.

Sustrans was responding to the launch of a strategic plan for a path network in Northern Ireland.

Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard is making £160,000 available to councils which want to work up detailed proposals.

Image caption Comber Greenway is one of five traffic-free paths, used largely by cyclists and walkers, that already exist in Northern Ireland

The greenways would see the development of abandoned railway routes, canal towpaths and flood embankments.

They include some with a cross-border element.

Mr Hazzard said: "While the overall target is ambitious and long term, this is a starting point on which to build a lasting legacy for future generations."

Ten of the 11 councils have been approved for grants worth between £8,000 and £32,000 to run feasibility studies on their plans.

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