Ormeau towpath is set to close for two weeks from Monday as work begins on the £17 million Belfast Tidal Flood Alleviation Scheme.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) project involves the construction of over five miles of flood defences from Belfast Harbour to Stranmillis Weir and aims to provide a long-term approach to tidal flood risk management in the city.

The first two weeks of work will see existing shrubs and trees on the towpath removed before the bird nesting season. However, it is understood that the entire project could take up to five months.

Lower Ormeau Residents' Action Group (LORAG), whose premises lie adjacent the towpath, is to meet the DfI and contractors Lagan Construction Ltd on Tuesday to discuss the plans.

Gerard Rice, LORAG manager, said the local community has raised concerns about potential disruption during the development, as well as the environmental impact of the plans. 

"We want to see Environmental Impact Assessments, the impact it's going to have on the wildlife and the aesthetics of the walkway," he said.

"We also have Grand Central Railway Station at the end of the walkway, so there are issues with noise and pollution and how that's going to be mitigated against.

"The trees and the shrubs that are there have taken 10 years to get where they are. There's also a significant wildlife section between the Gasworks and Maysfield where it's all reeds for nesting birds, so we want to make sure that they're not disturbed."

Mr Rice said that, despite LORAG's proximity to the development area, the community has yet to see detailed plans for the project.

"At the meeting on Tuesday we would hope that we would get the full programme of works and the Environmental Impact Assessment so we can start looking at the designs," he added.

He said community reps will urge Lagan Construction to limit disruption to the local community by keeping the walkway open for cyclists if possible.