All-island greenway network plan to be announced by Taoiseach

Major green cross-Border initiatives to be confirmed at Shared Island event

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to outline his plans for major green all-island projects including new cross-Border greenway routes. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to outline his plans for major green all-island projects including new cross-Border greenway routes. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin will on Thursday outline his plans for major green all-island projects including new cross-Border greenway routes and an all-island plan for hydrogen buses and lorries.

At the Shared Island forum in Dublin Castle, Mr Martin will set out his plans for the use of National Development Plan funding for joint projects North and South. Funding for cross-Border initiatives totals €1 billion until 2030 as part of the €3.5 billion committed to existing all-island projects. *

In his speech to the forum on Thursday afternoon, Mr Martin will disclose a number of new cross-Border projects, including a network of EV charging points on both sides of the Border that will be interoperable and uniform for motorists from both the State and Northern Ireland.

He is also expected to promote an all-island greenway network for cycling and walking, with routes extending from one jurisdiction to another. Already plans have been mooted for a greenway to link Sligo to Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, and to Lough Neagh. However, the new initiative would also see greenways running, for example, from Donegal to Derry; from Louth to Down, and from Monaghan and Cavan to Armagh and Tyrone.

‘Green hydrogen’ plan

The other substantial initiative to be floated by Mr Martin is a “green hydrogen” plan for the road network focusing primarily on buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

Current battery technology cannot fully power larger vehicles that are in frequent use and undertake long journeys.

Mr Martin will say the Government will invest in a pilot project to develop hydrogen technology in this regard. There is potential to produce hydrogen from excess energy generated by wind turbines, primarily on the western seaboard, and then store it as gas or in battery cells. A Belfast company, Wrights, manufactures hydrogen-powered buses and Bus Éireann already has a small number in service in Dublin and Meath as part of a pilot project.

“I’ll set out the next steps for the Government’s Shared Island initiative, including all-island strategic investments to improve connectivity, support enterprise and education opportunities, and tackle the climate emergency facing the whole island,” Mr Martin said in advance of the Shared Island event.

* This article was amended on December 9th, 2021