About the Project
The Barnesmore Gap Greenway project aims to provide an attractive trail between the towns of Donegal Town and Ballybofey/Stranorlar in County Donegal, mainly to be used for recreational purposes by pedestrians, cyclists and people with impaired mobility. It will also act as a valuable corridor safely connecting rural communities and neighbours as well as providing a safe, green and healthy modal option to/from urban areas and to public and community facilities.
It is anticipated that the provision of a greenway in this location will provide enhanced access to the wider region, enticing users to explore its surrounding towns and villages and further develop the untapped tourism potential within the region. The project also provides the opportunity to highlight the historical and educational significance of such places, whilst promoting the scenic nature of the surrounding area.
Investment in walking and cycling is a key policy objective of the Government. The National Development Plan (NDP) 2021-2030 recognises the importance of active travel not only in reducing carbon emissions, but also in achieving other national strategic outcomes such as compact urban growth and balanced regional development. Other national policy, such as the Climate Action Plan, the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways, and the National Physical Activity Plan highlight the multi-faceted benefits provided by active travel investment, including carbon emission reductions, physical and mental health benefits, tourism and improvements to accessibility and social inclusion.
Seven primary objectives have been developed for the Barnesmore Gap Greenway project, taking into consideration the National Transport Planning Framework and the ‘Five S’ Criteria outlined within the Government’s Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways, namely: Scenic, Sustainable, Strategic, Segregated and lots to See and Do.
Project objectives are as follows:
Provide a high-quality, substantially segregated Greenway linking the settlements of Donegal Town, Ballybofey and Stranorlar, as part of the National Cycle Network.
Improve accessibility in, and attractiveness of, the area for use by people of all age groups and abilities.
Enhance economic growth in the region by increasing
visitor numbers and promoting activity tourism in the area.
Improve integration in the area and create linkages to existing and proposed cycling and walking infrastructure and other public amenities.
Improve safety and security for vulnerable road users by providing a safe, segregated and attractive route.
Minimise, where possible, the environmental impact of the greenway.
Support a transition to a zero-carbon society by promoting cycling and walking.
These objectives will evolve, and be further refined, as the project progresses, and more information becomes available.
What’s Happening Now?
Donegal County Council with the support of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and a technical engineering consulting team, ROD-AECOM, is progressing the project in accordance with the TII Project Manager’s Manual for Greenway Projects.
During Phase 1 Concept and Feasibility, feasible Route Corridor Options were identified taking into account the study area, constraints and feedback received from the first non-statutory public consultation which was held in February 2023.
Following their identification, in accordance with the TII Project Manager’s Manual for Greenway Projects these options were assessed under Engineering, Environment and Economic criteria and a shortlist of Options was developed. These were presented at the second non-statutory public consultation which was held in June 2023.
The Barnesmore Gap Greenway project is currently in Phase 2: Options Selection, which is a 2-stage process. The shortlisted Options were subjected to a multi-disciplinary comparative assessment. This stage has now been completed, having considered feedback received from our previous consultations. These options were subject to a detailed assessment in accordance with the TII Project Manager’s Manual for Greenway Projects, TII Project Appraisal Guidelines and the Department of Transport’s Transport Appraisal Framework.
An Emerging Preferred Route Corridor has been identified and is presented as part of the third non-statutory public consultation.