Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan visits the Connswater Community Greenway

Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan yesterday (Tuesday 26th May) visited east Belfast to view at first hand the transformation of parks, open spaces and rivers along the new Connswater Greenway route.

Supported by funding from DOE’s Challenge Fund, the Connswater Community Greenway team and Field Studies Council have developed outdoor classroom materials for schools, colleges and community groups to access. With bespoke, curriculum-based, environmental education materials developed and over 40 teachers trained, schools are already utilising the new Greenway as a valuable educational resource.

Minister for the Environment Mark Durkan MLA said: ‘This is an excellent example of how the reinvested proceeds of the Carrier Bag Levy are directly benefitting the local community and helping them to learn, care for and enhance their own environment. The community pays the levy and I am determined that the community gets the benefit of it.

“It was great to see, at first hand, the new Connswater Greenway, an area where significant re-growth and renewal is taking place. The Greenway is a place where our children and young people can increase their knowledge and appreciation of their environment and represents a valuable investment in our future.”

Speaking during the visit, Wendy Langham, Connswater Community Greenway Programme Manager said “Developing a brand new urban greenway through the heart of east Belfast has only been possible with the support and advice of key partners such as the DOE’s Northern Ireland Environment Agency. We are delivering a truly transformational living landmark, bringing the rivers back to life connecting the green and open spaces along the way.

We have also been able to implement two amazing educational programmes based on the Greenway thanks to the DOE Challenge Fund and the Field Studies Council. This has enabled us to develop bespoke educational resources for our parks, train local teachers in how to utilise these resources and develop our parks as outdoor class rooms with interpretive signage, educational materials and other field work resources.

It was fantastic to have this opportunity today to show Minister Durkan the much improved Victoria and Orangefield Parks and the relocated Knock River.  During the visit we shared our vision and ambitious aspirations for environmental improvements on the Greenway and invited the Minister to return once Phase 2 on the Greenway is completed in 2016.”