Belfast Telegraph

Protection plea for Ulster's gems

By Nevin Farrell
14 January 2005

Areas like the Glens of Antrim and Lough Neagh should have National Park status, an Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman has said.

Jim Wilson is appealing to the public to campaign for the protection of the countryside and help highlight the need for national park status for some of the areas of outstanding beauty in the province.

He said: "Unscrupulous developers, bad planning practice and, add to this, interference and campaigning by do-gooders who have little knowledge of life in the countryside, are all threats to rural Ulster.

"Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles to have no national parks system. Our neighbours in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic have all enjoyed this privilege for some time.

"A working party has now been established to consider legislation for Northern Ireland's first national park in the Mournes, which is a welcome step in the right direction and I applaud it.

"Here in Co Antrim, however, we have a wealth of natural beauty in the Glens of Antrim and around Lough Neagh and I would like to see ideas progressed about how these areas can also attain national park status.

"National Parks will boost the economy through tourism and careful landscape management plans will help protect farmers and communities steeped in agriculture.

"I am impressed by the efforts of the Ulster Society for the Protection of the Countryside to fortify campaigns to protect rural Ulster.

"Recently they campaigned vigorously to save Wilfred Capper's Ulster Way from being phased out and now they are an influential member of the Mourne National Park Working Party.

"I would urge anyone who has a personal interest in outdoor life and the protection of our environment and its inhabitants to play a more active role by joining such a body."

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