Inishowen has fared poorly under the 2023 Active Travel Grants scheme announced last week by the National Transport Authority.
Donegal County Council received €4.5 million in grants for 36 projects across Donegal.
However, only €250,000, a measly 5%, will be spent in Inishowen’s two local electoral areas (LEAs).
Active Travel Grants are used by county councils for the development of segregated cycle lanes, widened footpaths, new walking and cycling bridges and new pedestrian crossings.
The NTA last week announced €290 million for around 1,200 projects across the country.
Of the 5% for Inishowen, the largest chunk, €160,000, will be spent on new footpaths in Carndonagh, Moville, Bocan-Culdaff and Newtowncunningham.
There’s also €50,000 towards the development of safe routes to school at Scoil Colmcille in Newtown, while two grants of €20,000 each have been set aside for active travel schemes at Culdaff and at Slavery in Buncrana.
Big allocations elsewhere
Donegal’s biggest allocations have gone to active travel projects in Donegal Town (€650,000) Fintown (€415,000), Lifford, (€350,000), Portsalon, (€225,000) and Letterkenny (€200,000).
Notably, that’s one major project in each of the five local electoral areas
outside Inishowen. Which rather raises the question of what councillors in
those districts are doing to develop big projects to enhance those areas that their counterparts here in Inishowen are not.
Inishowen’s largest active travel scheme, the 28.7km Buncrana- Bridgend-Newtowncunningham greenway, the main component of a major cross-border network, was mothballed last year when it became apparent that it wouldn’t be completed in time to draw down EU Interreg grants allocated to it six years ago.
More than €10 million in EU funding was then re-directed to greenways at Lifford and Quigley’s Point for fear of losing the European money altogether.
No replacement funding from the National Transport Authority has been secured for the south Inishowen greenway, no environmental impact assessment has been completed and no planning permission has been sought.
Donegal County Council previously told the Inishowen Independent that, subject to planning consent, the route will be fully operational by 2028.
Ever declining funding
Getting less than its fair share has been commonplace for Inishowen under the Active Travel grants scheme, with the proportion of grants coming here dropping from 15% to 10% to 5% over the past three years.
Inishowen received €543,000 of the €5.6 million allocated to Donegal County Council in 2022, and €802,000 of the €5.3 million allocated in 2021.
While Inishowen is losing out, the town of Letterkenny is powering ahead with projects there receiving €1.23 million in 2022 and €1.33 million in 2021.
Last summer Moville-based Michael White, the Green Party’s chairman in Donegal, criticised Donegal County council for failing to spend €3 million of the €5 million in Active Travel grants allocated to it by central Government in 2021.
The council said that it expected the money to be carried over and spent during 2022.