Mournes Councillor Laura Devlin brought forward a motion to the full meeting of Newry M0urne and Don District Council.
Local traders and residents had voiced their concerns about the quality of the local beaches in Newcastle and were looking for a solution.
The motion read: ‘This Council acknowledges that NIEA have determined. along with other coastal erosion experts, that due to the construction of the promenade, sand is naturally depleted from Newcastle beach and there will never be enough sand to form a usable beach, and efforts to place sand on the beach would be counterproductive. As such, council will commit to investigate the creation of an artificial beach such as the one developed in Paris, in order to maximise the tourism potential of the area and provide a recreational space for local people as well.’
Cllr Devlin said: “Here we are at the end of the summer season now and due to the prolonged dry weather, Newcastle has been hiving with visitors and locals alike. Many of who comment on the lovely shops, high-end restaurants and superb café culture which has grown and grown in recent years.
“However, if I had a penny for every time I have heard ‘But we need a sandy beach’ I appreciate we can’t have it all. However, if steps could be taken to improve the recreational element on the beach then we need to examine our options.
“I raised this question with the former Environment Director Canice Rourke and I know that he had met with NIEA, and in more recent times Colin McGrath MLA has done the same. Unfortunately, due to the forces of nature we have no way of placing sand on, or improving the beach itself. So I started looking at other options and one was the creation of a temporary artificial beach.
“Many countries throughout the world have them and they work extremely well. Paris has one on the banks of the Seine and has in the past stretched as far as 3kms. Obviously I am not asking members to support a massive beach but one that would be big enough to create that beachy summer feel for the months of July and August.
“I would ask members to support this motion which would allow Officers to go away, examine the seafront, what might work and come back to Council with costings and options.
“We are all agreed that tourism is our biggest economic driver. So, let’s see what more we can do to enhance our tourism product further and also improve the outdoor amenity for our locals too, as this would hopefully encourage more people to be active and healthy, right where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.”