Councillors have been told that an Outdoor Recreation Strategy has identified several forest sites within the borough which are “under-utilised and have potential to be developed to increase outdoor recreation provision”.
These are Glenarm Forest, Woodburn Forest, Carrickfergus; Ballyboley Forest and Portglenone Forest. The local government authority has been offered funding through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA’s) Environment Fund.
Councillors have been told that first, this will facilitate the development of a “multi-use” trail in Portglenone’s Bracknamuckley Wood and link path to the council-owned marina at a total cost of £420,000 to include funding by the local authority of £232k.
The development of the trail for cyclists and walkers is expected to be completed by the end of March 2024. The site is owned and managed by Forest Service NI.
A report presented to last week’s council meeting said: “The site is used at present by local mountain bike enthusiasts who already undertake some low level management of the site and have created informal trails.
“There is significant interest in seeing this project delivered both with local residents and visitors. If successful, it is envisaged that further funding opportunities could be sought to enhance Portglenone Forest.”
This project will be followed by plans to be drawn up for Woodburn and Glenarm Forests and a “masterplan” for Ballyboley at a cost of £100k.
Speaking at the council meeting, Braid DUP Alderman Beth Adger MBE said: “This is something that was brought up quite a number of years ago by some of the councillors who are no longer with us in the council. It is great to see that it is going to happen now.”
The Deputy Mayor, Bannside TUV Ald Stewart McDonald proposed a recommendation to accept the offer from DAERA, seconded by Bannside Sinn Fein Councillor Ian Friary.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter