DTNI consultation recommends the establishment of a Development Trust for Lough Neagh.
Development Trusts NI (DTNI) will today, 29 April 2016, complete a seven month consultation exercise undertaken on behalf of the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), to test the feasibility of a community ownership model for Lough Neagh (privately owned by the Shaftsbury Estate).
The intensive seven month programme of work involved engagement with over 300 participants including users, stakeholders, communities and businesses who engaged in a series of meetings, public events, and a ‘Future Search’ conference held earlier this year. Common areas and commitments were made by stakeholders across habitat, economy, tourism, community vision, recreation, navigation and waterways safety, and the need for good governance for Lough Neagh. All involved in the process agreed that consideration should be given to the management and acquisition of Lough Neagh by way of the establishment of a Lough Neagh Development Trust.
Commenting on the report and its recommendations, Chair of Development Trusts NI, Nigel Kinnaird, said;
“Lough Neagh is important to us all, it has a huge community of users, and many see it as an under developed asset. This report looks critically for the first time at community acquisition on a scale not previously envisaged and its findings and recommendations come at the end of an intensive seven month period of work. We are heartened by the level of support we have received along the way, and the willingness by which individuals, communities, public and private interests have engaged openly and debated vigorously the proposal brought forward for investigation. This involved considering the viability and commitment to establish a development trust to acquire, own and manage the bed of Lough Neagh.
This document is just the beginning. We must now encourage stakeholders, communities, local authorities and statutory agencies to incorporate these management recommendations into their forward work programmes, thus securing a sustainable and bright future for the Lough Neagh Wetlands”, Nigel concluded.