The good weather always brings people outdoors, and this year residents of Belfast can walk, run, cycle, rollerskate and skateboard along a new linear path stretching between East Belfast and the town of Comber.
The Comber Greenway is a 7-mile traffic free route that officially opened in November 2008.
Developed by Sustrans, the UK's leading sustainable transport charity, the Greenway follows the route of a former railway line and provides an exemplar of successful urban rejuvenation. It provides an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to access the outdoors in a safe and accessible environment, close to their homes.
It is great to see so many people, who may ordinarily lead sedentary lives, getting outside and enjoying outdoor recreation. The benefits of taking part in some form of physical activity are well documented and include improved mental and physical well-being. However, the future of the Greenway appears to be in jeopardy.
The Department of Regional Development (DRD) in Northern Ireland, spent £250,000 on the project, but is now proposing to use 5 miles of the Greenway (from the Holywood Arches to Dundonald) as a £147m Rapid Transit Bus network instead. The use of the route as a Rapid Transit Bus link will mean the route is no longer available for recreation in its present form.
A DRD spokesperson said the work to the picturesque Greenway was undertaken "in the full knowledge that the line would in the future be used for rapid transit... We took a decision that walkers and cyclists should benefit from the space in the meantime and that we could build an interim pathway that people could enjoy whilst the rapid transit proposals were being developed."
A Sustrans spokesman summed up its opposition to the scheme: "Whilst Sustrans wholeheartedly supports improvements to public transport, we have concerns if these improvements are made to the detriment of walking and cycling.”
Concerned residents, nature lovers, walkers and cyclists have set up a campaign group to secure the future of the Comber Greenway with a dedicated website www.combergreenway.co.uk
A selection of dining tables from Dunelm Mill, a home furniture and accessories retailer.
Immediate Media Co
The licence to publish Countryfile Magazine was acquired from BBC Worldwide by Immediate Media Company on 1 November 2011. We remain committed to publishing a magazine and website of the highest editorial quality, in accordance with BBC editorial and commercial guidelines and connecting with BBC programmes.