Green light for repairs at popular coastal walks in Ballycastle and Portballintrae
A viewing platform on Ballycastle Beach, which was destroyed by vandalism in July 2021 and a footbridge that forms part of the very popular coastal walking route from Runkerry Beach to the Giant’s Causeway will be replaced by Causeway Coast & Glens Council at a cost of £40,000.
The footbridge, which connects Runkerry Beach (Portballintrae) to private lands at Runkerry House, was removed by the council in December 2021 after storms left the supporting structures in a very poor condition leaving the bridge in an unsafe condition.
A report brought before Members of the Leisure & Development Committee noted: ‘Officers believe it is necessary to agree a licence to site the footbridge on private lands, design and build a new footbridge conforming to present day Health and Safety requirements. The estimated cost of this project is circa £20,000.’
Asking if there was a timeframe for the completion of the work, SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop said:
“I know there was complete uproar when the Runkerry footbridge was removed but the health and safety of the public is paramount.”
Head of Tourism and Recreation, Peter Thompson replied:
“We have the design which has been done in-house by Estates and it is ready to be put out to tender as soon as we get approval from elected members.”
Councillor Dermot Nicholl pressed the officer for a timeline, to which Mr Thompson added: “We will do it as fast as we can to get it built and installed within a couple of months.”
The Ballycastle beach boardwalk viewing platform which was destroyed by vandalism in July 2021, was part of a project to install a new boardwalk at Ballycastle Beach.
The estimated costs of replacing the structure as per the original specification, including a larch finish for the walls of the viewing platform and treated softwood for the remainder of the structure in line with what was previously constructed will be around £20,000.
UUP Alderman Joan Baird described it as a ‘great facility’, stressing the importance of having it reinstated.
“I’ve had numerous people talk to me about this and it was very, very sad that it was destroyed by some vandals,” she said. “It’s especially important for people with prams and children and also disabled people to get on to the beach.”
Welcoming the report, Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop added: “I know the public was devastated when the viewing platform was vandalised.”
Concurring with previous speakers, Sinn Fein Councillor Cara McShane said:
“This was a boardwalk which I campaigned for for many years in Ballycastle and it was delivered within Causeway Coast and Glens.
“It has massively increased access to Ballycastle beach not only for people with prams but also wheelchair users, increasing accessibility to the extent I had actually been lobbying strongly for an extension to the boardwalk.
“When it was recklessly burned in the middle of the night last summer it caused a complete uproar within the community. Not only was it an eyesore but it took away that access to Ballycastle Beach for so many people.
“Given the huge focus on the outdoors and people accessing our beaches and countryside much more as a result of the pandemic, there is a huge pressure on myself and others locally about when the council will have this reinstated. Can we have that timeline?
Mr Thompson responded to the Glens DEA councillor:
“We already have a design for it in-house due to the fact it was originally built and we plan to replace it with the exact same materials that were high quality and used before.
“Part of the reason for the delay is we had enquired through our Infrastructure team about getting it replaced before now but there was an issue about the supply of materials. We were told we simply couldn’t get the larch in the qualities and quality that we wanted.
“We believe now we can get those so we will go out to procurement with a view to replacing the structure as per the original specification and quality that was provided when the scheme was completed in 2019.”
The recommendation to advance the replacement of both the viewing platform in Ballycastle and the Runkerry Footbridge passed unanimously.