Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Environment and Regeneration Committee today received a comprehensive update on the implementation of the City and District's Green Infrastructure (GI) Action Plan 2019 – 2032.
The strategy's first annual report was brought before the committee by Council's Director of Environment and Regeneration, Karen Phillips, who said that significant progress had been made across the broad spectrum of objectives over the past year, despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 crisis.
The Derry and Strabane GI Plan provides a blueprint for the improvement and development of green and blue spaces across Derry and Strabane. It's the result of extensive public consultation and the strategy sets out a total of 184 GI actions to be delivered over the short, medium and long term until 2032.
The portfolio of GI projects are being delivered in partnership with the GI Stakeholder Group, comprised of members from the Strategic Growth Partnership, and created in line with the objectives set out in the Strategic Growth Plan and Local Development Plan.
At the virtual monthly E&R Committee meeting, members today heard that of the 184 actions prioritised, 114 have commenced, representing 62% of the overall plan, and 22 actions have already been successfully completed (12%).
Among the completed projects include the development of a new tree management system to manage woodland across Council's 800 ha estate; the planting of St Columb's Park Avenue; the completion of the Kilfennan Valley Park, Ebrington and Clooney Greenways; NW Multi-modal Transport Hub completed; Strabane Canal path upgrade completed, to improve access to Strabane Canal; completion of the Sion Mills masterplan and the development and launch of Council's Climate Adaption Plan. These are just a few highlights of the Action Plan which covers a diversity of environmental areas, divided into themes including People and Place, Economic Prosperity, Biodiversity and Climate Change.
Welcoming the report, Chair of the Environment and Regeneration Committee, Alderman Maurice Devenney, said the work demonstrated Council's commitment to delivering on its environmental responsibilities. "As a Council we have a duty to show leadership and take a proactive approach to such an important and time sensitive issue that impacts on the health and wellbeing of all our citizens. The GI Plan is ambitious, but thanks to the dedication and hard work of Council and its environmental partners, so much has already been achieved since its launch in September 2019.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank all those involved for their commitment to raising awareness of environmental issues, creating new opportunities to preserve and enhance our local area and helping to change attitudes and nurture the spirit of environmental stewardship here. I look forward to seeing the partnership grow and evolve and to the successful completion of the outstanding actions."
Council's E&R Director Karen Phillips thanked members for their positive feedback and stressed that work would continue to deliver on the full vision set out in the GI Plan.
"This has been a particularly challenging year for everyone so I am delighted to be able to provide such a positive report today and to see the hard work already beginning to have a positive impact locally.
"Our green infrastructure has never been more important as we have seen in the past few months as more people have turned to our outside spaces and greenways for exercise and safer social experiences. I think we have all developed a new appreciation for our natural environment and we can see the very real difference that better play provision, greenways and enhanced green and blue spaces and woodland can make to our lives.
"We will continue to maintain the momentum behind the plan together with our partners to ensure we can deliver the cleaner, greener and safer environment we all want to live in."
Council's Lead Officer for Green Infrastructure, Christine Doherty, acknowledged the partnership work that was enabling the delivery of the plan. "I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the Green Infrastructure Stakeholders for their hard work, effort and commitment to continuing to deliver on a wide range of green infrastructure actions, despite the difficulties presented over the last year. Without this partnership approach, it would not be possible to deliver the ambitious green infrastructure plan actions over the short, medium & long term to 2032."
You can find out more about all the objectives set out in the Green Infrastructure Plan for Derry and Strabane at https://www.derrystrabane.com/GI