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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Council take first step in funding bid for new forest walking trails

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has taken a step towards developing forest walking trails in the borough.

The local authority has agreed to explore a partnership with the Forest Service over Rea’s Wood, Tardree Forest, between Antrim and Templepatrick and Randalstown Forest with a view to seeking funding to improve access for walkers.

A report to councillors indicated recent investment in improvements along the council-owned section of the path at Rea’s Wood, at Antrim Lough Shore including viewing platforms and improvements to the path which took place recently.

However, the report stated that “the Forest Service section of the path has not had any investment in recent years and it is therefore proposed that, subject to approval by the council, that Rea’s Wood is the first area which is prioritised for improvements to the path and signage, subject to securing funding”.

Commenting at a meeting of the borough council, Antrim Ulster Unionist Councillor Jim Montgomery said: “Any investment we can get for these three woods would be very welcome.”

He was advised that there is “no commitment at this stage”.

Antrim SDLP Councillor Roisin Lynch commented: “This is a great first step. I welcome an opportunity for us to draw down further funding to enable development of these areas.

“Open spaces played such a vital role for residents over lockdown. It is important to have cross-chamber support for the number of forests we have in our area and develop them to leave a lasting legacy. I would want to encourage others to come and see what we have to offer.”

Glengormley Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Goodman noted that the Woodland Trust has planted 35,000 new trees at Cavehill.

“It would be a good opprtunity to begin discussions with the Woodland Trust about their future plans for that site and develop a safe walk way through that forest.”

He was advised that the council has been negotiating with the Woodland Trust over the authority’s commitment to plant one million trees in the borough.


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