Plans for a new walking trail within Downhill Forest accepted by Causeway Coast Council
The proposal was accepted by councillors at a meeting of the Leisure and Development Committee on Wednesday, January 23.
The Council’s Tourism Manager, Peter Thompson, said the programme had secured over £273,000 in funding from the Binevenagh and Coastal Lowlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS), with Council matching funding over a five-year period.
A licence agreement will allow for development of the trail, where the local authority will assume maintenance liabilities, for a 25-year tenure.
Sinn Féin Councillor Kathleen McGurk said she had read the report with “great interest” as she was relieved that the council was “finally able to reach an agreement with Forest Services”.
UUP Councillor Richard Holmes questioned the low maintenance budget associated with the trail which is only £2,000 per year, increasing to £5,000 per year after the first ten years.
“I’ve been buying fencing posts and other materials recently,” Cllr Holmes said, “and this amount won’t go to far. So I was wondering what you’re basing the figure on now, in case you need to change the budget at any point?”
Mr Thompson said the budget figure was based on “in-house past experience”, and, as an element of the trail already exists on a forest road which is in good condition, it requires a “very limited amount of path dressing”.
He added: “We don’t want to detract from the landscape we’re encouraging people to go and visit, so we’re not talking about asphalt surface paths. In this case it’s about retaining that forest experience.”