Belfast Telegraph

Full steam ahead for clean-up

Green warriors get stuck in to litter-strewn and overgrown old railway halt

By Linda Stewart, Environment Correspondent

The old platform at Knock Station has long been lost beneath the encroaching grass and brambles — but now it has finally seen the light again.

Volunteers sprucing up the Comber Greenway, which runs seven miles from inner east Belfast to Comber, have unearthed the historic platform which once served the Belfast and County Down Railway.

Staff from highways company Amey joined forces with volunteer rangers from Sustrans to revamp the greenway, which runs along the old Belfast-Comber railway line.

Not only did they dig out the old railway platform so that it can be used as natural seating by walkers exploring the route, but they cleared up litter along some of the worst hotspots, put up bat boxes to encourage the tiny pipistrelles that flit along the path in the evenings, and planted trees to boost wildlife.

Among the litter found strewn beside the busy crossroads at Tullycarnet were a dumped TV, a barbecue, a child’s umbrella, traffic cones and a broken deckchair. One copse of trees was awash with litter, including bags of rubbish, drink containers and even a discarded bag of potatoes.

Last year more than 2,000 people took part in 55 clean-up events organised as part of the Big Spring Clean, a drive by the Belfast Telegraph and Tidy NI to tackle the litter blighting our towns and countryside.

This year we hope to beat last year’s efforts, mustering more green warriors than ever to battle litter in April’s Big Spring Clean.

Gareth Lindsay, highways engineer with Amey, said 60 staff members will help Sustrans to spruce up its walking and cycling network as part of a major corporate responsibility drive.

“We’re involved with highway maintenance so can supply the skills and expertise to help Sustrans and maintain a sustainable transport network,” he said.

“Today’s work activities included graffiti removal, litter picking, clearance of the old railway platform to provide natural seating and some tree planting. We planted wild cherry, crab apple, hawthorn, blackthorn and guelder rose.

“We’re used to working on high-speed motorway and dual carriageways so it’s nice to get a bit of peace and quiet. Amey is pledging 60 work days to help out Sustrans. The guys enjoy a day out of the office and getting a bit of fresh air.”

Sustrans has won funding from Northern Ireland Environment Agency to carry out work to encourage wildlife and survey the flora and fauna.

Steven Patterson of Sustrans said the work is part of ongoing environmental enhancement which will also involves maintaining the wetland at Dundonald.

“It’s the responsibility of Roads Service to do litter picking and we would encourage them to litter pick more. Like any green space its needs management but with the numbers that use it, it’s worthwhile,” he said.

lstewart@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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