SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne has welcomed the publication of the Newry Mourne and Down Active Travel Master plan at November’s Council Meeting but voiced his concerns that the document doesn’t go far enough for the people of South Armagh. Cllr Byrne proposed that the Masterplan become a living document that would allow the inclusion of significant infrastructure projects like the Monaghan Way/Lough Ross Greenway and a footpath connection between Culloville, Crossmaglen and Poet’s Glen, Creggan.
Byrne said: “This is an extremely important document for the future of active travel in this district and its ratification falls on the day world leaders meet in Scotland to decide upon the future of this planet. I welcome all that is in the document and of course I’m particularly interested in the proposals for South Armagh and my hometown of Crossmaglen. Whilst I welcome the proposed upgrades within Crossmaglen which will make moving around the town a lot safer, I do feel this document missed the point of active travel and what it means for rural communities.”
“Active travel has been a priority for the SDLP which is why we have set aside £20 million through a Blue/Green Fund for projects that are actually missing from this document. The upgrade of the Newry Road and the provision of footpaths between Creggan, Crossmaglen and Culloville isn’t a new idea, in fact it is a proposal set out in the Councils Village Plan which has yet to be realised. Well used walking routes such as Crossmaglen-Lissaraw and Crossmaglen-Poets Glen must be linked up with safe footpaths if we are to properly encourage active travel in our rural area. Although this masterplan is missing a localised consultation, the majority of the respondents to a study commissioned by the Crossmaglen Chamber of Commerce in 2012 called for improved connections between these three areas. The Monaghan Way/Lough Ross Greenway is also missing which would provide for a long-distance community connection.”
“In some ways, the 2012 village plan masterplan is more ambitious, the footpaths in South Armagh don’t go far enough and neither does this document. My hope that this masterplan will become a living document which can be amended as things change over the next decade. This document needs to be more than just an aspiration exercise, these projects need to be realised if we are to play our part in tackling the climate crisis and truly connecting rural communities.”