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Survey shows support for Wharfedale Greenway

What the route could look like - The Nidderdale Greenway (Credit - Sustrans)

The Friends of Wharfedale Greenway (FOWG) have completed a report on the results from an online public survey that attracted over 1,700 responses. 

The survey ran between September and December 2023 and was open to everyone and anyone. 

Chair of the FOWG, Colm McCann, said, “This is unprecedented.  It’s the first time a public online survey has been conducted to gather views on the greenway and we are overwhelmed by the high levels of support for the project.”

In a recent meeting at Beech Hill Church in Otley, local MPs, elected members from numerous Parish Councils, senior stakeholders and decision makers, were brought together to meet with the Friends of Wharfedale Greenway to preview the key findings from the survey.  Some of the headlines include that of 1,705 respondents 95% support the greenway; 3% are unsure and 2% are opposed to it.  Most people (93%) wanted a traffic free walking route within the Wharfedale corridor with many (91%) interested in having increased opportunities for fitness and recreation. Walking and cycling are the most popular uses that people thought they would use the greenway for but there is evidence that many would like access for all users.  FOWG are aware of the issues regarding the differing needs of walkers, runners, horse riders, wheelchair users and prams and propose a ‘Code of Conduct’ based upon good practice from other greenways throughout the British Isles. “This is a challenge to be overcome as the project progresses,” said Neil Sheerer, FOWG Secretary. 

Speaking after the event Anna Dixon, parliamentary candidate for Shipley said “I give my full support to the Wharfedale Greenway. The benefits to communities along its path are clear - providing accessible green space, boosting physical activity, and enabling more people of all ages to adopt active travel reducing congestion on our roads. There is overwhelming public support, now we need planning and funding to make the plans a reality.”

FOWG was set up in 2021 by local volunteers who share the vision of creating a greenway supporting wildlife, leisure, and active travel. They are currently working with local communities and town/parish councils to raise awareness of and support for the greenway. FOWG has a management committee, a public website and regular open meetings made up of local volunteers who give their time to ensure that the group is accountable and runs effectively. The survey was designed to gauge the levels of public interest and the results are clear – public interest is very high. “At the many events we attend each year, the most common question we are asked is, ‘When is it going to happen?’” added Colm McCann. “There’s a real sense of disbelief that it is taking so long”.  

The idea of a Wharfedale Greenway has been around for nearly 20 years so this is nothing new.  As well as strong support for the project, the FOWG report highlights important questions that some members of the public would like to see addressed.  These include the impact upon the environment; how the greenway would be funded; ways of maintaining the route; the specific location of the greenway; and ensuring different users respect each other.  Having established there is evidence of public support for the greenway, FOWG are confident they can work together with key stakeholders to find solutions to each of these legitimate questions.

The full report will be available on line at the FOWG website from 5th April 2024 – please use the link for details  https://friendsofwharfedalegreenway.org.uk/  

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