A new lobby group is calling for the establishment of a looped greenway encompassing the entire Inishowen peninsula and beginning and finishing in Londonderry.
Ronan Gallagher, a spokesperson for the Wee Greenway Initiative, called on the relevant local authorities to liaise with the organisation and local community groups to deliver the proposed 97km route.
The Wee Greenway Initiative has completed a field survey of a 27-km stretch on the proposed route.
Mr Gallagher argues they Greenway should be seen as essential infrastructure for the North West’s development.
“Apart from over 120 plant species that have been identified in this section alone, including a rare orchid not normally found in the area, we have mapped numerous landmarks of cultural and historical importance,” Ronan Gallagher, a spokesperson for the group said.
“There are also habitats of high ecological value, namely semi-natural ash-hazel woodland, undisturbed stream corridors and species-rich dry and wet grassland,” he continued.
“The development of a greenway in Derry and Inishowen has the potential to build on the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, whilst encouraging people to think about how they travel to and from home, as well as offering a healthier lifestyle for users, particularly schoolchildren,” Gallagher concluded.
The Wee Greenway Initiative was established in 2014 to develop the idea of building a flagship greenway around Inishowen.
The plan is for a segregated route that would allow people to cycle, run and walk in a safe environment.
It is coordinated by Mr Gallagher (Moville) and the team includes Blaise Harvey (Carndonagh) and Margaret and Alan Tees (Culdaff).
On social media, the campaign has 2,000 supporters. It is the intention of the group to formally establish in winter 2015 and to further lobby both the Derry City and Strabane District and Donegal County Council to make funding available for the project.
You can find out more about the group and support it at www.facebook.com/InishowenGreenway or https://twitter.com/GreenwayPlease.
The group believes a looped greenway encompassing the Inishowen peninsula - that begins and finishes in Derry - has massive potential, not only to be an important piece of infrastructure for local users and community groups but also as a ‘go-to’ destination for visiting tourists.
The group’s call comes following a site survey of 27kms on the route.
The survey, examining a prospective route between Buncrana and Carndonagh, was completed.
The survey, which was carried out on behalf of the Wee Greenway Initiative by Groundwork NI, was funded by Donegal County Council’s Strategic Development Fund. It will be published later this year as part of a wider report on the project’s viability.
Mr Gallagher has vowed to continue to lobby local and central Government to fund a route that would further open up Ireland’s northernmost peninsula and expand its already rich tourist and environmental offering.