THE ENNISKILLEN to Sligo greenway has been given a boost in the latest round of cross-border funding from the Irish government.
Nicknamed the ‘Marble Arch Greenway’, the proposed 72km walking and cycling route follows the former Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway (SLNCR), connecting Enniskillen to Sligo via Belcoo and Blacklion.
It is hoped the €11 million greenway, which it is estimated will take seven years to complete, will be just as successful of other projects elsewhere in the country, such as the Mayo greenway, and will prove a major asset to both locals and tourists alike. It will also provide a link between Fermanagh and the phenomenally popular Wild Atlantic Way.
Last week the project was awarded €150,000 in the latest round of grants from the Shared Island fund.
The money is to go towards an economic assessment of the potential of the greenway, assessing the business and job creation opportunities it could create. The funds are also to be used to identify the infrastructure and other supports needed to ensure it would bring an economic benefit to the area.
Work has been continuing on the project on southern side of the border in recent months, with Cavan and Leitrim councils already preparing the way for its construction on their end.
In August Cavan County Council cathaoirleach, Cllr John Paul Feeley, signed a Section 85 agreement with Leitrim County Council “allowing them to exercise the functions of Cavan County Council within our county for the purpose of bringing the Greenway to construction stage.”
Cllr Feeley said “extensive” public consultation would now be taking place in Cavan, including with landowners and the wider community, regarding the greenway’s final route.
“The timeframe for this next phase will be eighteen to twenty four months, at which point the project will be shovel ready and ready for capital funding,” he said.
Cllr Feeley noted the SNLCR Greenway would link in to other trails in the area, such as the sections of existing greenway near Ballyconnell, Belturbet and Cavan town. He added he was also hopeful that, in the long term, it would also link to local sites and attractions, such as the Shannon Pot and Cavan Burren Park, which are part of the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark.
Plans for the greenway have been in the pipeline for sometime, and while progress has appeared to be increasing in recent years, it has mostly been on the southern side of the border.
Back in early 2019, Fermanagh representatives, including then First Minister Arlene Foster, travelled to Glenfarne to mark the opening of a demonstration stretch of the greenway.
There has been concern that, without funding being released by Stormont, the greenway could continue to progress in the southern counties then stop at the Fermanagh border.
In January this year, then Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced the SNLCR project was to be included in her £2 million greenway fund, however no specific funding announcement for the project has been made by the Department since.
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