“Northern Ireland is the only part of these islands that does not have National Parks”

4 views

The Northern Ireland Environment Minister, the SDLP’s Alex Attwood, may have a shortlist of potential National Parks - the Mournes, the Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens, and the Fermanagh Lakelands – but he doesn’t have the required legislation in place.  As the BBC report notes

The minister said he hopes to designate two of the three as National Parks.

“Northern Ireland is the only part of these islands that does not have National Parks,” he said. “It is time to grasp the opportunity.”

The minister said that if established, the parks “would advertise the scale and wonder of our heritage and create jobs in times of need”.

He is now seeking legislation that will enable him to designate the areas as National Parks.

From the ministerial press release

The Minister said that he believed that now was the time for Northern Ireland legislation for National Parks: “I am circulating a paper to Executive Colleagues recommending they endorse the principle of National Parks legislation. I hope to achieve this before the July holidays.

Hmm…  And from the notes to the editors

  • The enabling legislation will give the DOE updated powers to designate areas as national parks. The designation of particular areas as national parks will take place through subordinate legislation after a further period of public consultation.

Somewhat putting the cart before the horse then…

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Surely to have a national park, you have to definitively a nation, not be only part of a nation. Egos abound

  • alex gray

    The National Park issue has been kicking around since 2001 when it was already about 20 years overdue. Sinn Fein stopped the Mournes scheme to satisfy a few hill farmer voters. The record on this is beyond pathetic.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Maybe he believes he has to put out an idea of what might become a national park to get public support for the legislation????

    What’s the problem with that. People are talking about what they would lower our corporation tax to before the assembly even has the power devolved…

  • cynic2

    National Park …..but what about my bungalow?

  • Old Mortality

    cynic 2

    …or what happens to all the sites for bungalows that I was going to flog off with virtually no capital gains to pay because of the conacre scam.
    But fear not, Attwood has devised a plan to meet “the particular circumstances” of NI which means that you won’t notice there’s a national park at all, except for the signs. There’s no danger of the Mournes becoming like the Lake District.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Somewhat putting the cart before the horse then…”

    More like putting the cart before the main story, Pete, the Minister’s tussle with UNESCO – as reported on NALIL blog and then by Kevin Magee on the BBC and Linda Stewart in the Belfast Telegraph (pp4-5).

  • JR

    The house I grew up in and where my parents live is inside the proposed Mournes national park boundary. We were in the minority in support of the park. I have to say there was alot of misinformation and rhumor at the time.

    Many of the chief objectors in our area would be spouting crap like “We don’t want a return of the landlord” or “people will be able to walk right to your door and tell you to F** Off”.

    I remember a public meeting on it at the time where a lady came to talk to locals about the proposals. A local hothead/farmer and his sons just jeered the whole time, no-one got to hear what she had to say.

    Ther reality is now that house prices have fallen and every farmer in the country no-longer thinks he is sitting on a fortune’s worth of sites objections will fall off.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Can’t help recognising that Nevin @ 11:56 am has fingered the immediate stimulus.

    As to why there are no National Parks in NI, you’d need to go a long way further back than 2001: try the Basil Brooke régime, circa 1949, and its opposition to anything that whiffed of “socialism”.

  • http://jamember.blogspot.com Procrasnow

    National Park is not the only national thingie we dont have..we don’t have a national theatre. england has wales has and scotland has. even Eire has.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “fingered the immediate stimulus”

    Apologies for the delay, Malcolm, but I’ve been busy elsewhere. The blog that I compiled with more than a little help from my friends seems to have caused an element of disarray in the DOE ‘newsroom’; the more recent ones are not good news for the DOE, DETI or DSD.

  • Mourne77

    While originally a supporter of a Mourne National Park in 2003 I am now totally opposed to their creation. This is a result of direct experience and research into other National Parks. I now fear that the National Parks will be for the benefit of a “Verdant Circle” (a Golden Circle heavily disguised with Green Wash). The business model available to the chosen few will be lucrative but unsustainable. simply put the taxpayers will cover most of the costs, but they will keep the (tax free?) revenue. The Giants causeway visitor centre is a case in point. Is a massive building with a token green roof appropriate in the vicinity of a world heritage site? It seems that it would depend on who wishes to build it! The fact that the National Trust also own a number of Hotels is surely a coincidence.

  • JR

    Mourne 77,

    Could you be more specific about why you object to the national park. This golden circle stuff is like all arguments i have herd about the proposed national park typically vague, also the Giants causway is not a national park so what has it’s visitor centre got to do with the Mournes? What has the national trust got to do with it either?

  • Mourne77

    JR

    No problem in being specific, but I have so many (well documented) concerns that it would bore everyone. Firstly the causeway coast is one of the areas short listed and the Mourne Heritage Trust is on record as proposing a ‘network of visitor centres’. The National Trust are heavily involved in the National Park project as you would know if you do even a bit of basic research. You will also discover that the same names keep cropping up. For example, look up the current and past Chairmen of the Mourne Heritage Trust and see how many “hats” they have been wearing. Have you ever attended a Mourne Heritage Trust AGM. If so you will be aware that the Board of Trustees is effectively self selecting and they even ‘squeezed’ an extra member onto the board one year! Note that the MHT is likely to become the National Park Authority if the Mournes are designated. Let me ask you a specific question. Should the Trustees of the MHT or future National Park Authority (or their relatives or organisations that employ them) be permitted to be beneficiaries of the funding that they distribute? If the answer is yes, what proportion of the funding would be acceptable before the public has a right to become alarmed?

  • http://joeharron@yahoo.com joeCanuck

    he doesn’t have the required legislation in place

    Nor, I imagine, does he have the money that will be required to do whatever is necessary to make this a reality. It is a good idea though.

  • Mourne77

    JoeCanuck

    I wish you were right about the money. However if you look at the official consulation document.

    http://www.doeni.gov.uk/consultation_enabling_legislation_for_parks.pdf

    In point 5 under Governance you will see that it is proposed that the management body should have the “flexibility to borrow”.

    As debt is at the root of our current economic problems, I think this is enough reason in itself to oppose National Parks. Anyone care to name a Northern Irish Quango with a reputation for financial prudence?

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    Mourne77 i wonder why you changed from being a supporter of a National Park to being an opponent in 2003. As an earlier question asked – what is it specifically that you don’t like apart from alleged multiple board sitting.

    If the question was put to you in a different light – given that many more people (potentially hundreds of thousands or even higher) are seeking to travel to the mournes for leisure and lifestyle even without a National Park, including the purchase of second homes, with bigger cars and RV’s and that many farmers, ordinary locals and business people are creating services to both cater for the visitors and to attract more, and that the heritage of the landscape of the Mournes is currently claimed to be the preserve of private landholders when it could be argued to be a national asset, albeit in private management, and with a large number of emigrant young from the whole area with no economic prospects in hill farming or construction – what are the management and development proposals would you like to see that help preserve your quality of life or even your way of life (if it is land based) in the Mournes, or that provide an economic vision for the area for all of the residents?

    I have to say I am agnostic on the question and am far from convinced about a National park but I absolutely get fed up with the asinine comments of the NO campaign who talk nonsense with no acknowledgement of the potential merits of a more structured management for the whole are, no matter what it was called or who ran it or how it was funded.

    It might be the fault of the people who held the first consultation but six years of ridiculous letters to the Mourne Observer has done little for the area.

    The “no” campaign might have been vocal but I wager people would change their tune if Causeway Coast received the investment over the next 20 years to the detriment of Ballinaran and Attical.

  • Mourne77

    Michael,

    I originally supported the National Park on the basis that it could attract more visitors, lead to ‘joined up’ management structures working for the good of the area and the opportunity for the local people (who created the landscape that we all cherish) to provide goods and services that visitors genuinely wish to purchase. Unfortunately, the reality does not match the pro National Park rhetoric.

    In the case of attracting more visitors both pro and anti agree that the Mournes have not been marketed effectively. The pro answer is that the National Park brand will attract more visitors. While this is true up to a point, I would point out that Towns like Newcastle and Kilkeel do not have a MacDonalds restaurant. This does not mean that visitors are deprived of good quality fast food. It should also be noted the Legislation IS in place to designate a National Park and if they designated the High Mournes (with the agreement of the Trustees) I would support it. They could also allow adjoining landowners to ‘opt in’ which would result in the National Park growing organically if it is a success.

    I suggest that the reason they want new legislation is to give the management structures more unaccountable power. As I simply do not trust the existing management structure and do not believe that they have the areas best interests at heart, I do not wish them to have more power. As an illustration, the last Chief Executive of the Mourne Heritage Trust left to work for Northumberland National Park Authority when it become obvious that the Mournes were not to become a National Park in the near future. This suggests to me that his career was much more important than his commitment to the area.

    As for investment, if it goes to create ‘white elephants’ that require continuing local tax payers support and infrastructure that forces visitors to pay (to the National Trust or National Park Authority?) before being able to walk in the Mournes. Then, I am happy for it to go elsewhere. The Mourne Signature Project was originally to be the National Park. It was changed when it became obvious that the National Park was not imminent. If you look at the “Programme for Government Projects” under the Mourne Signature Project, it may give you an idea of where the investment will go.

    http://nitb.com/DocumentPage.aspx?path=aedbda88-d741-4bec-b324-36204c735653,9fedbeed-b4be-4637-a8d8-f3b31fdbb53e,0fe4d146-59ee-4ff3-9ae6-54f7c73b3114

    Out of 26 projects only 2 small projects are listed as private and the very department that is pushing the National Park made sure that they will not proceed or be postponed for a very long time. Of course most of the public projects went ahead. So much for local economic opportunity! Indeed in other National Parks the National Trust and Public car parks started charging shortly after designation.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Mourne77 @ 7:37 am:

    I suggest there are two misconceptions there:

    1. What a “National Park” is all about. Essentially declaring a National Park:
    (a) restrains undesirable and unsuitable development — such as the bungalow culture (compare, should you wish, the achievement of Operation Neptune with the ecological disaster that is much of the Donegal coastline);
    (b) gives some degree of protection to those who live there — e.g. limiting house-price inflation and blight from second-homes.

    2. That the National Trusts are just another Quango (though they do have specific legal rights and duties). They are, in fact, charities.

  • Mourne77

    Malcolm Redfellow.

    I agree that there are misconceptions, but I respecfully suggest that they are yours.

    You state that a National Park restrains undesirable and unsuitable development.

    People living in the Mournes do not simply decide ‘lets build a bungalow’ and make a pile of money! They have to apply for planning permission and as there is a plethora of designations, it is extremely difficult to obtain. However, they are often amazed and angry to discover that a big new bungalow is built close by and all the ‘rules’ seem to have been ignored. Who is in charge of planning and the designations? The Department of the Environment!!! The very department pushing for a National Park!! So are you are saying that the DOE has failed in restraining undesirable and unsuitable development but by giving them more power they will do a better job? Perhaps we should give speeding motorists faster cars! It would probably cost less than a National Park.

    What about undesirable and unsuitable development by the very agencies that are charged with protecting the Natural and Built Heritage? Please do some research into the developments that they have undertaken.

    Someone is telling porkies! Local people are being reassured that a National Park will have no effect on planning.

    I do not wish to see undesirable and unsuitable development in Mourne, but this would be best achieved by a fair, effective and transparent planning system.

    You opine that a National Park gives some degree of protection to those who live there — e.g. limiting house-price inflation and blight from second-homes.

    For second-homes, I’ll let the Lake District National Park Authority make the argument for me.

    http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/caringfor/policies/secondhomes-2

    Far from limiting house price inflation a National Park will increase house prices. Although, you have identified one of the advantages to local people of National Park designation. If they own their house and are prepared to move outside the National Park they will have the opportunity to make a capital gain. However, what if that family managed their smallholding in a traditional fashion! Will the newcomer have the ability and desire to continue managing the land in the same way?

    That the National Trusts are just another Quango (though they do have specific legal rights and duties). They are, in fact, charities.

    You said it, they are just another Quango. That’s one of the main reasons for concern! If you agree that the Mournes are a special place, then they should be managed by people with competence and integrity and a genuine love for the land.

    They have specific legal rights and duties. Try telling them that!

    I was going to let the National Trust speak for themselves but their web page containing the quote I was looking for is no longer available. Luckily, the Department of the Environment have published it.

    “… the National Trust, has an annual turnover of over £5 million placing it amongst the top 1.5% of NI businesses in terms of economic size”.

    http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/valuing_our_environment_summary_report.pdf .

  • Dick Glasgow

    ” .. (a) restrains undesirable and unsuitable development …”

    Doesn’t Unesco already do that & yet look at the massive & surely unsuitable development that Attwood is trying to dump between {& immediately adjacent to} Runkerry ASSI & the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site ~ ” .. a huge amount of built development within a protected area around the Giant’s Causeway.”

    Can anyone tell me how many Golf Courses & Wind Farms there are, within the proposed Mourn site?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “they should be managed by people with competence and integrity and a genuine love for the land.”

    Mourne77, that would seem to rule out politicians, civil servants and developers!

  • Mourne77

    Nevin,

    Not all developers and development is bad. When there is genuine need and the development is appropriate and sustainable I would argue that the developer is providing a public service. However, I fully accept that some developers could be described as greedy speculators that care nothing for our built and natural heritage and ride roughshod over local communities.

    A fact that not many people know about the National Trust, is that although they have been vocal about building on greenfield sites, they are themselves developers who build on greenfield sites! Information about two of their more contentious developments can be found in the links below;

    http://www.rhostyllen.com/home/

    http://www.clivedenvillage.net/

    Would they be major developers in the future National Parks?

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    Mourne77

    It still appears that you are in the fallacy that much of this debate is mired in – about structures. Your arguments swing widely from planning, to quangos, to development, to public good, to property prices. All of these things are relevant. I don;t see why the majority of this debate is centred on a “no” culture when this is clearly a unproductive stance that forces a for and against debate.

    The Mournes are no museum, it is a living landscape but the danger is that the changing circumstances are going to create a locale that holds little that is attractive for anyone.

    The only solution for this place is to bring all of the stakeholders into one room and have them talk face to face. At the end of the day I think everyone has interests that are not that far apart – i.e. the valuing and appreciation of the current amenity provided by the mournes – as a place to work, live, visit, and study.

    The pressures on it from within and without place all that at risk, and if properly managed by ALL the interested parties, it could provide a lovely future for many people.

    The greatest risk for the future is a lack of management of the pressures that are there now and that are there to come.

    An absence of any formal management will not alleviate those pressures. The landscape is degrading year on year – especially with poor stock management by the trustees (over stocking in the high mournes, broken fences and damaged stone walls), access onto the mountains by scramblers, quads, increasing numbers of large events like marathons and charity walks, increasing numbers of fires, encroachment of non-native species of plants like laurel and rhodendendron. Other things are an irritating inconvenience like over crowded car parks, access to the high mournes over high ground, and litter.

    Of course most of the cottages in the Mournes are now “holiday home” projects by Belfast professionals.

    There is no transparency in planning, mostly due to local lobby on behalf of applicants by politicians.

    there is little by way of economic planning to meet the needs of visitors except by entrepreneurial farmers, some of whom on the northern side of the Mournes are doing very well with lots of holiday villages and camp sites doing great business. There is a bit of jealousy I think about these.

    When people agree what they want to see in place for the future – with an acceptance that the status quo is unacceptable so some change in needed, then people can get into structures and what they are called. Ahead of that there is too much mischievousness and lies being told – probably on both sides.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “The only solution for this place is to bring all of the stakeholders into one room and have them talk face to face.”

    A very sensible suggestion, Michael; it ought to be the norm rather than the exception in a vast array of settings, not just National Parks. And they need to be brought together at the beginning of the planning process, not near the end.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    I tried to respond to Mourne77 @ 6:47 pm, but my cackhandedness, or VirginMedia, or the gremlins of cyberspace lost those great thoughts. Michael @ 12:36 pm, with whom I largely agree, reboots me to try again.

    Of course the NT is a developer: Mourne77 chose not to mention such operations as Dunham Massey. “Heritage” is expensive, and not something to decay painlessly or be preserved, regardless of cost, in architectural and ecological aspic. Were it not for “developing”, the NT would rapidly be another great intention lost in destitution.

    Or must anything the NT touches uniquely be excluded from the universal pressures for new housing?

    Take Mourne77‘s two examples, both of which have generated NIMBY resistance — for good or ill.

    Cliveden Village amounts to the existing Roundwood building and an extension on previous development (the occupants of which are the main objectors). We are deep in expensive and exclusive South Bucks, so have your bottomless money bags and trust-funds to hand.

    Cliveden itself is a Sir Charles Barry Italianate monster (financed from wealth inherited from Highland clearances, should one wish to reflect thereon). Since the Astor passed it on to the NT, the main house seems to have bankrupted a whole procession of hoteliers — though you may still book into Spring Cottage, where Profumo “entertained” Miss Keeler (or — ahem! — vice versa). What Cliveden isn’t is “beautiful”, though its position is, and the interiors opulent enough (remember the £100 sandwich?) for any jet-setter looking for a crash-pad convenient for Heathrow.

    No. I can’t get exercised over that one.

    As for Rhostyllen, I think the Erddig development was aborted; but let’s go through the hoops on it all the same.

    Erddig is all that Cliveden isn’t: an astonishingly-fine house, which the NT had to rescue from mining subsidence. Back in the ’70s, even after a tranche from the NCB, the NT had to flog off 60-odd acres to finance the repairs (something like £1m at ’70s prices, as I recall). Again, the occupants of that earlier development now want to pull up the drawbridge.

    The subsidence was a collapse of Bersham Colliery shafts (the last working pit in the Denbigh field). Two further factors are involved:
    — Rhostyllen is ideal for commuting into Wrexham/Wrecsam;
    and
    — the Bersham Coal Company built its tied cottages in good Ruabon red brick — tasty stuff for the upwardly-mobile in a “character area”.

  • Mourne77

    Malcom Redfellow,

    I’m pleased that you acknowledge that the National Trust is a developer. A lot of people do not realise this and many would be very angry at their hypocrisy if they did. You appear to be an apologist for the National Trust and I don’t see the benefit of a slagging match over details. However, you may be kind enough to answer the following questions.

    1) If the people of Rhostyllen are mere NIMBY’s then how were they able to persuade so many National Trust members to support them?

    2) The National Trust is a charity, yet so many people despise them in so many different parts of these Islands. Why?

    3) Do you believe that the National Trust will be major developers in the newly designated National Parks?

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    “Acknowledging” an obvious truth is hardly a great concession.

    Nor am I an “apologist” for the NT or anybody other than myself.

    So, to respond:

    (1) had less to do with Rhostyllen than enormous national affection for Erddig (see second paragraph here).

    (2) is a value judgement on your part. Quantify and justify it.

    (3) A sustainable “developer”, subject to all local planning constraints, quite possibly. “Major” is, again, your pejorative value-judgement.

  • Mourne77

    Michael,

    I am not part of a “no” culture. I was sold one concept of a National Park and said yes. On closer inspection I discovered that the National Park we are getting is not the one that was advertised. I also discovered things that led me to develop serious concerns about the integrity of the sellers. Unlike PPI we will not be able to get compensation for “mis selling” and we will not have the option to get out. However, convince me that the originally advertised concept is available and I will reconsider.

    How can I simply be saying no and my arguments be swinging widely when I am discussing issues that you agree are relevant? I can’t control in what way other people will respond. If you think that one of my arguments is fallacious, respond to it. The issue of Quangos is central, as the National Park Authority will be a Quango. Also, the Quango mooted to become the “Mourne National Park Authority” is not trusted by a significant proportion of key stakeholders. In Northern Ireland of all places we should realise that an organisation that is not trusted by a significant proportion of stakeholders cannot be effective.

    I totally agree that the Mournes is not a museum, it is also not a theme park and ‘disneyfication’ will destroy the genuine heritage that we have. I think you need to explain what you mean by economic planning. If you mean some state controlled central plan, then I would suggest that this would destroy the local economy. Entrepreneurs catering for visitors are needed (farmers or otherwise) but they are soon discouraged by the same ‘officials’ that are pushing for a National Park. A few do manage to overcome the odds at great personal cost, and (in the cases that I am familiar with) would not have been able to do so in a National Park. I have attended a number of meetings attended by prominent members of the “no camp” and none were against farmers (and others) seeking business opportunities from tourism. There is anger about ‘quangocrats’ that have repeatedly got significant funding through their own quango for their own tourism related businesses. Are these the businesses that you are referring to? I would hardly describe “sailing through” the planning process with the backing of your own quango as being particularly entrepreneurial! Of course the ones that battled the odds to open their tourism related businesses seem to be studiously ignored.

    I have been in the same room as the pro National Park people on numerous occasions and each time I come away more disillusioned. They have selective hearing, when you agree with something on their agenda they jump on it, when you disagree or bring up possible solutions to some of the problems you have mentioned they ignore it. They do not even provide an explanation, although on some occasions they fob you off with disinformation or promises they do not keep.

    As for the status quo, the no camp would say “if its not broken, don’t fix it”. However, I do believe that the status quo can be improved upon. However, with such a unique and precious resource we need to be absolutely sure that any changes will be beneficial as the process of National Park designation is effectively irreversible. The proposers have not demonstrated that it will be beneficial and their motives appear to be completely selfish. Unfortunately, I believe that the decision to designate the Mournes has already been made.

  • Mourne77

    Malcom Redfellow,

    I will respond to your post in more detail later. However, in the meantime you may find it informative to read this;

    http://tyntesfieldestate.com/tyntesfield/?p=107

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Mourne77 @ 7:09 am:

    No! No! Don’t aggravate yourself further, per-leeze!

    I’m quite happy to accept individuals and groups have “issues” with the NT. Since the NT conserves over 300 buildings, and you’ve currently ticked off just three, you could keep us here all summer — as Ken Dodd tells the audiences at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre for the 52nd year running.

    There are far more important matters to fret upon (e.g. does Nessy “prove” creationism? — that, at least, has a tangential bearing on the topic in hand).

    Anyhoo [© Pete Baker], how NT houses across the English regions relate to land-management at either the Causeway Coast or the Mournes eludes me. Unless, of course, you have conceived this notion that the NT is inherently evil.

    If you want to talk the talk about that Gothic revival horror at Tyntesfield, can we start with the basis of the Gibbs family fortunes — guano. Seems appropriate, somehoo [© M. Redfellow].

    Now, excuse me. I have an appointment at a book-signing.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Anyhoo [© Pete Baker] > somehoo [© M. Redfellow]”

    Does it logically follow that suttonhoo is © National Trust? ;)

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    Mourne77
    The fallacy in your argument is your intense focus of objection being centred on a structure – that a structure (in this case a National Park Authority) is ineffective or malign.

    My point is that it is not the structure that is the real issue but the management of the Mournes for all the stakeholders of which landowners are but one among hundreds.

    Any structure that is created has to have the sympathies of the locals to work, but so does it have to have the sympathies of visitors, and funders, and government. In that regard the most important element of the structure is its mandate – what can we agree that needs to have extra support and management?

    Even before that we need to agree that management of the Mournes is needed and that it needs to be way better than it is today. It would be even better if you could acknowledge that the pressures on the mournes will increase over time. And it would be amazing to agree that the Mournes could provide livelihoods for many more people in the future – if, and only if, they are managed properly.

    With those basic steps in place people can talk, without them they can shout at each other till the cows come home and then when investment, jobs and visitors go elsewhere – we can all complain about who caused what to happen.

    I am not pro National Park and i think a lot of people are ambivalent but they are sympathetic to the notion of improved management, greater numbers of visitors, and an amenity secured for future generations.

    I am not sure what you were sold as a proposed National Park which was then taken away from you. I never realised that there had been a concrete proposal. Indeed I thought it was the lack of detail in the proposal that allowed people to fill in the blanks with their own preposterous assumptions such as:

    “You won’t be able to hang your washing outside”
    “you won’t be able to bring hay into the Park from outside to feed the animals”

    along with one bit of real insight I heard at a public meeting

    “what about planning – we won’t be able to sell sites off if this comes in”.

    You spend a lot of time making accusations about the MHT and I am intrigued. I can do one of two things:

    1. dismiss your accusations as an attempt to discredit the organisation by promoting it to (inept) Park Authority status and then by association discrediting the notion of a National Park
    2. take your accusations seriously and ask why you haven’t taken these accusations to the police as they look to be worthy of investigation

    It’s not a great strategy on behalf of the No people becuase it runs out of credibility after while – a bit like the cry wolf fable. If your repeated accusations of the worst that could happen never appear to be true then people stop believing you and I get the feeling that this has already happened.

    All the politicians locally have now jumped on board and I have to hand it to Alex Attwood for creating a bit of competition between the regions because what politician wants to be answerable to a majority who are broadly sympathetic of the aims of a Park Authority and who will hold them to account on the possible loss of funding and jobs in the area.

    The idea that the status quo is ok and can be tweaked to create improvement is probably ok on the short term. It is clearly not an option for the long term. Most people know this and are OK with it.

    If an opportunity to go into a room and discuss the future of the Mournes becomes possible I’d take it because change will be imposed if it isn’t adopted and when that happens you lose control.

    Your views are as equally worth hearing as anyone else’s and as such you need to be inside the debate rather than outside with a placard shouting.

  • JR

    Mourne 77,

    As far as I can make out from the litriture I have recieved the National trust and the mht are just two of the consultees in the process, two of many including the farmers union.

    You are under th impression that the locals “created the landscape that we all cherish” But is is the other way arround. The landscape created the people.

    There legitimate pro’s and cons to the park and there is a sensable debate to be had arround park structures, boundries, attractions, rules etc but at the moment the space for debate is filled with rheortic and nonsence.

    My main hope for the park is it will attract falg ship conservation projects to the moures like the Golden eagle project in Glenveigh national park or the White tailed sea eagle project in Killarney. I hope it will bring upland habitat restoration to severly degraded habitats and some afforestation with native trees and an end to the current forestry pracitces of clearfelling and planting tree species which do not support any local wildlife. I hope that i will be able to look under any of the bridges near my home and not see piles of old computers, Tv’s, kids toys, old carpets etc. I hope some of the local trades, crafts and arcetecture will be supported.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    It does, Nevin @ 11:54 am, it surely does.

    And I though that was a pun too esoteric to be recognised.

    Beneath a crescent moon I stood
    Upon a meadow damp with dew
    Beside the fluttering tree branched wood —
    The roots run deep at Sutton Hoo.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Though/ thought. Of course.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    and ballyhoo is © The Commentariat, Malcolm, whereas Aghnahoo is a place but certainly not © of an illustrious MLA.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    One last thing …

    Had Mourne 77 really, really wanted to get the boot in on the NT, he would have directed us to Jasper Fforde’s website and the map and glossary to the UnUnited Kingdoms.

    For those unacquainted with Fforde’s fictions, featuring Thursday Next (a further thrilling instalment due 10th July!), the Nursery Crimes Division (DCI Jack Sprat and DS Mary Mary) or his two-thirds incomplete Shades of Grey trilogy, it’s not too late. As for anyone feeling themselves too old, too sophisticated for the marvellous “juvenile fictions” involving Jennifer Strange, “the last dragonslayer”, you deserve to be pitied.

  • Mourne77

    Michael,

    I’ll start with the most important point first. The quote below is what was advertised to the people of Mourne by the Mourne Heritage Trust itself in October 2000. I have no problem saying yes to such a model.

    “The key elements of what the Trust terms as a ‘Celtic’ National Park model are that management would remain by local people, a bottom-up form of management, as opposed to the often top-down management approach in England and Wales. Social and economic considerations would have an equal status alongside environmental concerns to ensure a sustainable and vibrant future for Mourne.”

    http://www.mournelive.com/espanol/news/news/viewdetails.asp?newsID=18

    I have no idea whether they were genuine or if it was just a ruse to get a National Park designated and then resort to the top down model. I have no problem agreeing “that the Mournes could provide livelihoods for many more people in the future”. My problem is that I am absolutely positive that without the existing “management structures” we would have progressed much further in terms of sustainable development. In my view giving them more power will result in even less sustainable development and result in an effective cartel that enjoys generous public subsidy and little or no effective competition. The probable result is that visitors will vote with their feet and go where there is better value for money and more choice.

    I am not making accusations about the MHT I am simply stating facts that are in the public domain and published in their own and government web sites. Simply go into the MHT and ask them, they will confirm that funding that they ‘administered’ has went to their own Trustees and their families and organisations. In some cases it is substantial and they have benefited more than once. I don’t know if it is illegal, but many regard it as immoral. Personally, if the same type of assistance had been perceived to have been spread among the community based on the merit of their proposals, I would not have a problem with it. If you are considering reporting it, I would draw your attention to the Northern Ireland Events Company. This Quango is costing us almost as much to investigate as it lost!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18123500

    I’m not ideologically against the MHT. Indeed I think it is a shame that the Rangers potential is not reached due to their organisations propensity to alienate landowners. Well not all landowners, the National Trust is pleased to use their services to pull ragwort.

    http://www.mournelive.com/deutsch/news/news/viewdetails.asp?newsID=458

    Note that this is in mid August when visitors are at their peak and they are probably walking past litter, discarded tents and alcohol containers. Now if you think that pulling ragwort is a good use of their time, then why not offer to do it for other landowners who cannot avail of the generous government funding available to the National Trust? Who knows perhaps they would have made a few friends!

    The above is a perfect illustration of the cultural attitude that I fear will prevail in a future National Park. While bemoaning the fact that they do not have the funding for more Rangers, they prefer to provide an extremely rich organisation with free menial labour than provide the service to visitors and local stakeholders that we (the taxpayers) paid for.

  • Mourne77

    Malcolm Redfellow,

    I think we may be closely in agreement in the major points.

    1) We both agree that one of the fundamental reasons for National Park designation is to constrain local development.

    2) We both agree that the National Trust will move in to fill the ‘development gap’.

    The difference is that you believe it to be beneficial, while I believe it to be appalling and unfair to local people. Not to mention a blatant abuse of their human rights.

  • Mourne77

    JR,

    Do you really believe that the National Trust and Mourne Heritage Trust are simply two of the consultees?

    The landscape created the people! Perhaps, when the glaciers receded they revealed a network of Mourne walls, species rich grass and moorlands and lovely little white stone cottages with farmers all signed up with management agreements!

    Perhaps, once a National Park is designated the individuals who fly tip will wake up and say to themselves “I was a very naughty person, I will now go and pay to get my rubbish disposed correctly according to the correct legislation”.

    The Forestry Service is part of government, as will the Mourne National Park Authority.

    Take the livestock away and you will have natural forest much faster than most people appreciate. However if the farmers did this, they would probably have their land taken off them or subjected to a huge fine.

    Local crafts usually need buildings and they must conform to current building regulations and health and safety law. Getting such buildings is problematic at present, in a National Park I suggest it will be almost impossible for the ordinary person.

    Red Kites have been reintroduced into South Down, why does it have to be a National Park? Perhaps the Sea Eagle that flew over my house will settle here when it sees the National Park signs!