Corporate Section

Ulster Canal Cycle trail: The aim of this project is to link National Cycle Routes 91/95 in Northern Ireland with the Kingfisher Trail in Co. Monaghan. The route extension will be approximately 65km long using minor roads; linking Peatlands Park, (Craigavon Borough Council) to Benburb (Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council) via Charlemont and Blackwater (Armagh City & District Council), and also linking Tynan (Armagh City & District Council) via Caledon (Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough) with Clones in Co. Monaghan. The link was originally envisaged as part of the extended National Cycle Network and is indicated on the Sustrans Belfast to Ballyshannon route map. This extension will provide:

  • A direct route from Belfast to Carrick-on-Shannon
  • Three circular extensions to the National Cycle Routes 91, 94 and 95
  • A circular extension to the Lough Neagh trail

BRP will work closely with Sustrans (Sustainable transport charity) and Road Service NI and Monaghan County Council. In addition the route, cycle trails and public participation within the catchments will be actively promoted.

The finer details and requirement for the route are currently being defined with the aid of Sustrans and on completion of this BRP and Sustrans will work at local level with Road Service NI and Monaghan County Council to develop the trails.

Blackwater Transboundary River basin Action for Community and Environment (TRACE)

Introduction

The Blackwater River is a major inflowing river to Lough Neagh and has a cross-border catchment area of almost 1,500km2. This land area is mostly agricultural but with small towns and settlements and individual dwellings. Combined, this landuse pattern can, unfortunately, impair water quality due to, for example, over-use of fertilisers and slurry which can be washed off fields during rain storms, leaks from farmyards, and discharges from sewage works and septic systems. Blackwater TRACE was established as a pilot project to identify the sources of water quality problems and putting in place mitigation measures in three small catchments.

Project Aims and Objectives

The aim of Blackwater TRACE is to demonstrate a stepped improvement in water quality in three sub-catchments in Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan (~5km2) using total phosphorus as the main water quality indicator. An important element of the project is tracking the baseline conditions of water quality in the catchments and identifying improvements that can be made with the help of upgrade work. The upgrades have taken the form of soil nutrient management planning following soil testing, promoting farmyard infrastructure improvements and septic system improvements

Soil nutrient management

Farmers recorded fertiliser applications throughout the project and are given recommendations to reduce fertiliser use. As a result of this many farmers purchased zero or reduced phosphorus fertiliser. This resulted in a reduction of 1.8 tonnes of phosphorus into the catchments in the first year.

Farmyard infrastructure improvements

In the 3 catchments in this project the TRACE project funded farm upgrade work including: This has ensured the protection of river bank from soil erosion caused by cattle accessing streams and releasing nutrients into waters. Although taken at different times of year the images below show the level of poaching which will now be prevented all year round. This has ensured the protection of river bank from soil erosion caused by cattle accessing streams and releasing nutrients into waters. Although taken at different times of year the images below show the level of poaching which will now be prevented all year round.

Almost 4 miles (6.4km) of fencing

This ensured the protection of the riverbank from soil erosion caused by cattle accessing streams and releasing nutrients into the river. The evidence gathered proves a significant reduction in poaching
916 yards (838m) of guttering

This means that more rain water is diverted from potentially dirty farm yards into storm systems and therefore reduces volume of slurry to store.

Septic tank improvements

With rising rural housing density septic tanks and their effluents are a source of nutrient loss. 113 Septic tanks were surveyed in the 3 catchments and as a result recommendations were made for the improvement of the highest risk systems.