Maintaining access to more public footpaths and rights of way is the aim of a new collaborative project involving the Department of Infrastructure and Beach Buddies.
Funding worth £25,000 a year over a three-year period has been put in place to enable the charity to progress a successful pilot scheme which took place last year involving people under community service and probation orders.
The Department has a 10-year improvement plan for public rights of way to ensure the most popular routes – namely the Raad ny Foillan coastal footpath, Millennium Way, Heritage Trail and Bayr ny Skeddan – are maintained to a high standard.
More information about the Public Rights of Way Strategy is available on the Government website.
The work to be undertaken by Beach Buddies will supplement resources to enable other routes, which are still regularly used, to be trimmed and tidied on a more frequent basis.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK said:
‘I’m delighted that this project is now underway and that more of our footpaths can be given the attention they deserve. The Year of Our Island initiative encourages people to get out and explore more and the work of Beach Buddies and the Department of Infrastructure will support this.’
‘The funding being provided will ensure value for money for taxpayers in a range of ways. Beach Buddies will engage with volunteers and local authorities from all over the Island to organise work in their area. In addition, people under community service and probation orders will be called upon by Beach Buddies to carry out work, improving the environment and helping them to gain a greater sense of pride for their surroundings and communities.’
Beach Buddies founder Bill Dale said:
‘Teams from community service and probation have been regularly joining Beach Buddies events for some years. It was good to have these people take part in beach cleaning, but it was also clear they had more to offer and could be put to an even better use.
‘We asked whether, over a couple of weekends, they could help repair a footpath at Niarbyl, which had been badly damaged in storms, and they did a really great job. These were people with all sorts of different skills and it just seemed logical that they could take on other projects.’
FIM Capital Beach Buddies invites local authorities, walking groups and interested parties to submit applications for specific footpaths to be attended by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The charity also welcomes contact from people interested in volunteering their time.