Friday 24 November 2017 04:39:46 PM

Environment Minister Expresses Concerns Over Strangford Harbour Fence
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Environment Minister confirms concerns over Strangford Fence planning application.

Regional Development Minister outlines this is only ‘one option’ says Margaret Ritchie MP. 

Speaking after receiving confirmation from the new NI Minister of the Environment Mark H Durkan that he has asked officials to ensure considerations on the Strangford fence planning application are only concluded when all issues have been fully and properly considered, the MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie said: “The Minister has confirmed that the Department are looking at a number of areas of concern.

Strangford residents and jetty users have been up in arms over a proposal to build a fence on the old harbour area.

Strangford residents and jetty users have been up in arms over a proposal to build a fence on the old harbour area.

“Among these are the detrimental impact on the Strangford conservation area, including adjacent listed buildings; detrimental impact on the natural heritage of Strangford Lough, the existing rights of way, access and views of the Lough and inadequate information on the need for the fence.

“Further to this I have also received correspondence from Department for Regional Development Minister Kennedy whose department is responsible for submitting the application. Minister Kennedy’s reply to me indicates that the fence is only “one option” which would comply with the requirements of the Department of Transport’s Maritime Laws for passenger vessels.

“I will be meeting with Minister Kennedy on this matter in the near future and in light of the concerns highlighted to date I will be urging that the Department for Regional Development accept these very valid concerns, withdraw this application and look at other options that would not infringe on the rights of local residents and the natural heritage of the area.

“This fence would block access to the moorings and would be an infringement of the rights of the community of Strangford. Our tourism industry is important to our local business community. We must achieve a more suitable solution to this problem and one that is not detrimental to local residents and the local environment,” added Ms Ritchie.

A public meeting has already taken place in Strangford on this issue and local residents in Strangford are deeply concerned about the loss of access a fence might bring to the harbour area and the loss of visual amenity.