1,000km of traffic-free bike paths for Northern Ireland planned
Up to 1,000km of greenways across Northern Ireland are set to receive investment.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard gave the green light for the funding as he unveiled his strategic plan to develop a network of greenway paths across the North, including cross-border connections.
The paths, for use by walkers, runners and cyclists, will be traffic-free and many will utilise disused railways, riverside paths, abandoned canal towpaths and flood embankments, reinventing them for use by generations to come.
Speaking during a visit to a potential greenway on a disused railway track outside Dundrum, Mr Hazzard said he hoped to encourage everyone to lead a more active, healthy lifestyle with the initiative.
"This plan is the pathway to help deliver those opportunities for people across the North, focusing on the development of 400 kilometres of primary greenways and 600 kilometres of secondary greenways that walkers, runners and cyclists can share," he added.
"The greenway paths will connect towns and cities to the villages and countryside from east to west, north to south, and will also be integrated with other modes of transport, making it easier for people to leave the car behind.
"One of my key priorities as outlined in the Programme for Government is to help transform how we travel by increasing the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport, which will enhance the region as a place where people want to live and work and to visit and invest."
Jonathan Hobbs, from the NI Greenways campaign, said: "It's encouraging to see so many councils proposing visionary greenway projects across the country with support from the Department for Infrastructure to realise their vision.
"This is an exciting first step towards creating a world-class greenway network, which will be a welcome investment in rural development and active travel, enhancing our tourism offering and creating long-term employment and entrepreneurship opportunities."
Mr Hazzard also announced the local councils who have secured funding to support and develop greenway projects in their area under a small grants competition.
The greenways set to receive funding via local councils include sections from Comber to Newtownards, Orlock Point to Donaghadee, Orlock Point to Holywood, Enniskillen to Clones, Omagh to Carrickmore, Craigavon to Aghagallon, Portadown to (north of) Moy, Banbridge to Scarva, Caledon (via Armagh), Carlingford Lough, Downpatrick to Newcastle, Downpatrick to Ardglass, Comber to Downpatrick, Doagh to Larne, Carryduff, Ballymoney, North West Greenway, Greenisland, Clogher Valley and the Ulster Canal Greenway.