Council Secures Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Challenge Funding

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has successfully secured funding of £279,500 from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Challenge Fund to implement additional biodiversity and access projects within the Ring of Gullion and Strangford and Lecale (RGSL) Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The funding has been secured to invest in a range of natural heritage projects across the district areas. This funding will assist in the delivery of key environmental outcomes as identified in the AONB management plans which includes; improving wellbeing for all by providing healthy landscapes for communities to enjoy; creating places where people want to live, work and visit. RGSL is committed to contributing to reversing habitat and species decline; improving river and marine water quality; and obtaining favourable management in the AONB designated and protected sites.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Cathy Mason said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a significant increase in the number of people across our district using the outdoors for their health and wellbeing. It is vitally important that we continue to invest in these areas so that we can provide the facilities that are necessary to cope with this increased demand that is being placed on our outdoor spaces.”
She continued and said, “It is also important that we provide the necessary investment to protect our designated sites, habitats and species; so that what makes the Ring of Gullion and Strangford and Lecale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty so special, and so popular with both visitors and locals alike, can be protected and cherished for generations to come. I am sure that this additional funding will provide many opportunities for people to enjoy and connect with their environment in a better way in the future.”
The RGSL Environmental Challenge Fund project will deliver a wide variety of projects over the coming months as follows:
• Advanced Mooring System feasibility and pilot project in Strangford Lough
• ‘Don’t Mow Let it Grow’ in Ards and North Down and Newry
• Mourne and Down; Forkhill Greenspace Project – Phase 2 Welcoming Nature Back
• Ring of Gullion Way enhancement works scheme Gledhu, Ballard Rd, and Forkhill River
• Strategic access connections- bridge over Forkhill river; Slieve Gullion SAC Erosion Control on path corridor to planning stage
• Ring of Gullion Way re-route to planning stage; Carrive summit loop; Forkhill River walk consultation; Ringhaddy Quay, slipway, and car park consultation and development; Access gateways across Ring of Gullion, Strangford and Lecale and the Mournes; Forkhill River
• Blueways feasibility, consultation and development; AONBs Go Digital
• Visitor monitoring – mobile visitor counter
Visit and, and follow the AONB social media accounts for updates on all of these projects as they progress over the coming months.


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