THE FUTURE OF LOUGH NEAGH
Its potential – our shared responsibility?
Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in Britain and Ireland, with a surface area of 383km2. The Lough makes up approximately 125km of shoreline, impacting on the local authority areas of Antrim & Newtownabbey, Mid Ulster, Mid & East Antrim, Lisburn & Castlereagh, and Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon.
It provides water, jobs, minerals, fish, leisure and a rich and varied natural environment. It has local, national and international environmental designations, including:-
- Area of Scientific Interest (1965) re-designated ASSI (1992)
- Ramsar Site from 1973 because of the very large numbers of wintering wildfowl
- 8 Nature Reserves
- Special Protection Area (from 1998) under European Habitats legislation
Yet many see the Lough and its surrounds as a tremendous natural asset which still has much unrealised potential in terms of the economic, social and environmental benefits it might offer local people and communities.
One idea being considered as a way of realising that potential is to follow the community ownership path used successfully elsewhere. In Scotland for example a number of large privately owned estates have been successfully transferred into community ownership to be managed by local people for the benefit of local people. Economic, social and environmental benefits for local communities have followed.
The Department for Agriculture and Rural Development has recently appointed the umbrella body for Community Development Trusts in Northern Ireland, Development Trusts NI, to investigate the possibility of a community based ownership model for Lough Neagh.
If you would like any further information, please visit:
Contact Paul Donaldson at Development Trusts NI
Tel: 028 9031 1132