The concept of shared services is high on the political agenda throughout the European Union and is a priority for both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. Although much of the impetus for collaboration on the sharing of services amongst local authorities is derived from financial constraints and declining public resources, the opportunity for neighbouring authorities to work together to improve connectivity and enhance their tourism offer is particularly apparent in relation to the creation of regional greenways. The success of the Great Western Greenway and the ongoing expansion of the National Cycle Network in both jurisdictions can undoubtedly be further enhanced through the creation and linking up of cycle and greenway routes on a cross-border basis. Moreover, the potential to tie into the wider EuroVelo network (www.eurovelo.com/en), and to attract substantial financial support from the European Union, provides added impetus to those seeking to progress the development of the regional greenways idea.
ICLRD is working closely with local partners in the border region to progress a regional greenways pilot initiative under the Shared Services thread of the Cross-Border Spatial Planning and Training Network (CroSPlaN II) programme. The pilot is initially focused on the mapping of existing and proposed greenways and the identification of gaps within the network that could conceivably be addressed in the future. Following the mapping exercise, it is proposed that a brief analysis is undertaken of greenway-related policy and academic literature (predominantly from the island of Ireland) with a view to drawing out key themes and emerging issues and ultimately contributing towards the development of a draft greenways strategy for the border region. It is the intention that such an analysis proves invaluable in assisting local authorities and others in preparing proposals and funding bids for the creation of a regional greenway network on a cross-border basis.