Assembly backs greenway protection

East Belfast Alliance MLA Naomi Long has welcomed the fact that the Assembly voted in favour of a motion put forward by herself and Dawn Purvis calling on the Minister for Regional Development to preserve safe pedestrian and cyclist access on the Comber Greenway. Cllr Long has expressed her concern about the potential impact on the Greenway of proposals to use the former railway line for a rapid transit system which was announced earlier this year by the Minister.

Cllr. Long said: “I am glad that we had the opportunity to discuss the proposals for the Comber Greenway given the potential threat that it faces due to the proposals for a rapid transit system along this route. The Greenway has been massively successful and is used by many people who commute by bicycle, as well as many who use it for leisure walking and cycling. In addition to using the path, the local community has a real sense of ownership of it and has worked with statutory agencies and the Council to maintain and develop the area into a really valuable social asset.

“The impact which the rapid transit proposal will have on this is of major concern and I am glad that the Assembly recognized its value and stressed the important contribution of walking and cycling not only to the transport strategy, but also to the health and well-being of the community, in supporting this motion today.

“I remain concerned that the plans for rapid transit could impact negatively not only on those who use the Greenway, but also those who may find the public transport provision along the current arterial routes, such as the Upper Newtownards Road, reduced as a result, which could have a knock-on effect for people wishing to access local services rather than simply commuting to the city centre.

“Whilst I welcome the Minister’s ongoing commitment to engage with local representatives and residents, I know that many people will be disappointed that he indicated that he remains committed to proceeding with the current plans for a rapid-transit system on this route; however, I hope that through discussions with Sustrans, residents and others, it will be possible to find some way maximize protection of the amenity value of the Greenway at the detailed design stage.”


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