Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd met with Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Finance Minister Conor Murphy today to discuss how departments can collaborate more on active travel opportunities and greenway development.
The Ministers agreed to set up a cross-departmental working group where officials can work together to identify and maximise opportunities for active travel and greenway development which can boost tourism as well as connecting communities and assisting with health and wellbeing through increased opportunities for walking and cycling.
Speaking after the meeting Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said: “Setting up a cross departmental working group is a tangible outcome that should help drive these initiatives forward in a collaborative way to bring a better outcome for citizens.
“Tackling the climate crisis is an obvious driver for a change to our approach and the way we do things. Making it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle is good for an individual’s health as well as the environment. We agreed today that by coming together as government departments, local government and community and voluntary organisations we can make a difference. There are many good local examples to demonstrate the merits of this approach and we should seek to build on this for the benefit of local communities.”
Finance Minister Conor Murphy commented: “Tackling climate change is all our responsibility and it’s important we work together to examine ways to help reduce our carbon emissions. As a major employer, the Civil Service has a role to play in helping staff to reduce their impact on the environment. Supporting staff in the civil service and other organisations, as well as businesses, to access active travel can have a positive impact on the environment, our health and wellbeing and local communities.”
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey added: “I am pleased to see this new phase in our collaborative approach to delivering for people. The development of active travel and greenways is key to connecting communities. It follows on from the significant work already taking place on several public realm projects, City Deals and place shaping initiatives to ensure active travel initiatives are considered and, where appropriate, included to ensure that the environment is enhanced for walking, cycling, wheeling and public transport.”