29/07/2005

Minister gives go-ahead to family cycling projects

The development of new family cycling trails at Castlewellan Forest Park, Gosford Forest Park and Castlearchdale Forest has been announced.

NIO Minister Jeff Rooker said the trails would improve the forest visitor access across the three locations and said it also reaffirmed a commitment to widening still further the use of forests for other recreational activities.

However, the Minister responded to concerns that the Forest Service had resisted attempts to create mountain bike trails in Northern Ireland, by warning that any such proposal must be carefully worked through.

"The Forest Service remains committed to finding solutions that would allow wider use of forests for cycling and other types of recreation," the Minister said. "However, in terms of mountain bike trials, the responsibility lies with cycle trail promoters to establish that their proposals are practical and affordable.

"The significant difficulties with the existing proposals for funding cross-country and downhill trails cannot be resolved in the time available to the potential funding bodies."

Mountain bike trails exist at Gortin Glen Forest and Moneyscalp Forest (beside Tollymore Forest Park), while construction and management of a trail by a cycling group at Belvoir Park Forest is currently underway.

Development of a trail at Florencecourt Forest Park with Sustrans and Fermanagh District Council is also in progress.

(MB/KMcA)

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