Farmers not swayed over National Parks

Published Tuesday, 21 August 2012
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The Ulster Farmers Union said it remains opposed to National Parks in Northern Ireland following a meeting with the Environment Minister.

Farmers not swayed over National Parks
The Mourne Mountains in Co Down has been nominated. (© Getty)

The Mournes, the Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens, and the Fermanagh Lakelands, are all being considered for the status by Alex Attwood.

However farmers are concerned about the impact on their business if their land was to become part of a National Park.

Almost 300 UFU members turned out at a meeting with Mr Attwood on Monday.

Afterwards, president Harry Sinclair said: "We were very pleased that the DoE Minister, Alex Attwood, was prepared to attend our meeting and give the opportunity for our members to question and put their views to him directly.

"However, there was nothing to convince the very sizeable turnout of UFU members from all parts of Northern Ireland that they should change their position of opposing the imposition of National Parks.

"We have consistently highlighted that there are genuine and deep-seated concerns from our members across a very wide range of issues particularly on the areas of bureaucracy, additional restrictions, governance, access, liability, and the impact on the social structure of these areas. These very real issues clearly remain."

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK that doesn't have a National Park, but Mr Attwood hopes two can be designated by 2014 if new legislation goes ahead.

He said: "My argument is clear and certain; the scale of our natural heritage is unsurpassed on these islands. It needs protection and management.

"Together with farmers this is and can be done. And in so doing, we create jobs and economic growth. With over 60,000 people out of work, and more to come, I have a responsibility to the entire community to try and help. National Parks offers this chance."

"Our natural environment is one of our greatest resources which we must utilise in a sustainable way for the benefit of all.

"I know that the members of the UFU appreciate this and will work with me to grasp this opportunity for supporting farmers and diversifying their industry."

© UTV News
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