PLANS for works to restore and protect Blackhead Path at Whitehead have received the green light from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
The multi-million pound project will see repair works carried out over a year to allow the thousands of visitors used to enjoying this area annually, to explore the entire path in all its glory.
A list of contractors who have passed the first stage of the appointment process is now being drawn up for the tender to go live in January.
The works are set to include repairs along the coastal paths from the Old Castle Road right up to the lighthouse and new steps and handrails.
Work to restore the Golden Steps is already underway and are due to be finished by the end of the month.
Mayor for Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Lindsay Millar, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing that this project has got the green light. Everything is progressing really well and to schedule. After many years of neglect, we now have the support of elected members to get the essential repair works underway.
“We are extremely keen to reopen the path so it can be enjoyed by our local community and tourists. Whitehead is a stunning town with lots of eateries, shops, arts events and beautiful scenery to explore, and I would encourage everyone to make use of this whilst the works are ongoing.
“We will be continuing to work closely with residents and the local community, including Blackhead Path Preservation Society, to get the path open as soon as possible.”
New fencing and signs highlighting the dangers of the collapsing path area are now in place to prevent the public from getting on to the dangerous areas.
The recent bad weather saw more rock fall along the path, the collapse of the bridge along the upper path and further movement of 30mm.
The Mayor continued: “Blackhead Path is a real asset to our tourism offering and hugely popular with the local community, but the safety of users of the path is our priority.
“We would ask any users to respect the signs and gates in place. We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding throughout this process.
“We understand and appreciate that this will be frustrating for those who enjoy this outstanding coastal path, but given the seriousness of the situation we don’t want any tragedies.”
The Council is hoping, weather permitting, that work can start on the path by spring time after contractors have been appointed.
For more information and to keep up to date you can go to www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/BlackheadPath