McShane in Portnareevy funding talks

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peter.winter@thechronicle.uk.com

Sinn Féin councillor, Cara McShane has met Stormont officials in a bid to secure funding for the redevelopment of Portnareevey viewpoint.

The popular beauty spot near Ballintoy is earmarked as a key 'trailhead' in a council plan to build a walking trail along the entire length of the North Coast.

Last year councillors approved plans to create a “world class walking route” between Portstewart and Ballycastle that would remove some of the existing diversions along main roads.

At Portnareevy, the plan is to create a section of trail almost a kilometre long connecting the car park with Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and a safe footway at a dangerous pinch-point on the coast road.

The path would also be diverted around the perimeter of the site taking advantage of spectacular views westward over the rope bridge and east towards Fair Head.

Another phase of the scheme involves creating section of coastal path on land occupied by caravan park on Clare Road, Ballycastle which enjoys panoramic views of Rathlin Island, Mull of Kintyre and north to Islay.

Last week Cara McShane held discussions with representatives form DEARAs' Rural Development Programme (RDP) - a key potential funding body for the walking trail project

Afterwards she said: "The proposals near Ballintoy and Ballycastle are exciting, but will take significant investment.

“The Rural Development Programme’s Co-operation Projects scheme is a possible funding opportunity and we have been meeting with RDP representatives to discuss options.

Cllr McShane explained that colleagues on Causeway Coast and Glens Council have already agreed to proceed to the design and appraisal stage, in order to make an application for funding.

She added: "Sinn Féin will be pushing these projects to help develop the tourism experience on the North Antrim Coast.

She continued: "The schemes at both sites will involve a significant improvement to the infrastructure of the Causeway Coast Way by enhancing pedestrian safety, linking up existing Public Rights of Way and including an improved viewing deck overlooking Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.”

"Under the Causeway Coast Way blueprint approved by Council last year, it sets out the strategic direction and proposed interventions to develop an iconic and international way-marked walking trail along the coastal perimeter of the Council area,” concluded Councillor McShane.

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