Archive for the 'Kilkeel' Category

Lessons from Northumberland for Mournes National Park

At a special meeting of Down Council on Monday 12th December 2012 to discuss its policy on  Mournes-based National Park, it considered a presentation from Tony Gates, Chief Executive, Northumberland National Park.

Following the presentation  a wide range of concerns were discussed by members present, especially concerning fears expressed at recent public meetings that the local population living in the park could be adversely affected by planning issues and farming practices might have to change.
Tony Gates, a Tyrone man who has lived and worked in the Mournes area, explained that a National Park in the UK has no powers to compel farmers in any way, and in Northumberland the Parks Authority was instrumental in securing Environmental funding payments to farmers who wanted to support the work of the park on a voluntary basis.
Following questioning on planning issues by Cllr Cadogan Enright, Tony Gates confirmed that under the 1949 Parks Act, National Parks could operate as a sub-committee of the Council for planning purposes. Cllr Enright said that this approach might ‘square the circle on the park between its supporters and detractors and ensure that the local populations interests are secured’.
It was proposed by Cllr Eamonn O’Neill that Council management write to Minister Attwood restating the Councils support for the National Parks proposal for the Mournes area. He accepted an amendment from Cllr Enright that the letter of support should firstly emphasise the idea of copying the English 1949 Act and ensure that the National Park operated as a sub-committee of the new ‘Super-Council’ and secondly, reflect the desire of the Irish Minister for the Environment and Louth County Council to have a cross-boarder “Euro-Park” approach to this project.
Council members confirmed existing policy in favour of the park and requested Council Management to write to the Minister in this manner

Councuillor Backs wind turbines 17th oct 2012

Cllr Cadogan Enright supports proposals for a windfarm off the South Down coast in principle, but seek connectivity for local farmers who will help keep the economic benefits of renewable energy in the local area

NATIONAL PARK – letter to Editor at Mourne Observer 5/9/12

Sir,

The issues raised by the opponents to a National Park at the rally in Newcastle last week are not new, and were encapsulated in my detailed submission on the National Park back in 2006. The original Park proposal ignored the lessons of miss-managed Park projects like North Wales and the danger of negative impacts on normal rural development and so forth. (see www.enright.ie/policies/attachment/download-our-submission-on-the-national-park)

While I highlighted these dangers, I also put forward solutions, many of which were adopted in the final report via my predecessor on council Bill Corry who was on the parks working group. Any remaining issues can easily be dealt with given the premise of local democratic control over the Park.

The opportunity for local democratic control was enhanced last week by the publication of the new Electoral Boundaries for the New Down and Newry and Mourne Super-Council. This announcement reflected my submission seeking the transfer of Ballyward, Leitrim and Finnis into the new council are to ensure that the entire National Park will fall within one council area, potentially bound by local planning policy set by the new council.

Having a Parks Authority under the new Super Council would avoid unelected bureaucrats over-ruling our local elected representatives on policy in the park, and would allow the new council-based planning system to set the rules for development in the parks area.

I believe that having the National Park run by a sub-committee of the new Council along with local community and farming representatives would avoid the dangers posed by external rule by a quango or by the Department of the Environment. We may also need representatives from Louth Council, as the Park should include the Cooleys.

Most of the other concerns are of a simple practical nature like insurance for visitors on the land, compensation for maintaining the environment of the park and other details all of which have had solutions identified already.

The President of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce did not get a fair hearing at the meeting last week. Audrey Byrne speaks for all 7 Chambers of Commerce across South Down who have a joint manifesto on this issue. They represent 670 mostly indigenous small to medium sized enterprises, owned locally and with deep roots in the Mourne area. A National Park would be a local asset generating thousands of local jobs that could not me moved at the whim of a multinational company.

The Killarney National Park area on its own has more tourists than the whole of Northern Ireland put together, this is an opportunity we cannot miss.

 

Cllr Cadogan Enright, Down Council

 

Challenging Projected Coverage for RTE and TG4 in April 2012 – 6 months before digital switch-over

Following Digital UK writing to Down District Council last year us last year on the schedule for switch-over, I wrote back to them to them seeking reassurance that widespread concern around Down District that RTE1, RTE2 and TG4 would be available from day one as had previously been announced and as agreed under the Good Friday and Saint Andrews Agreement.

It was clear from the on-line maps they were supplying at the time that large areas of Down District including Downpatrick, Newcastle and Ballynahinch would be left out, I had been seeking improvements to this scenario. Map of Best Case Scenario April 2012 for RTE / TG4 coverage

Very large numbers of people in this district rely on these stations for sports coverage, Irish Language broadcasting and news across the Island of Ireland.

Denis Wolinski, Digital UK’s National Manager in Northern Ireland, wrote to me last October  saying “Beidh RTE agus TG4 ar fáil ar an gcóras nua.  Beidh a thuilleadh eolais faoi seo á fhógairt amach anseo.” (RTE and TG4 will be available on the new system, more information will be announced on this.)

However  significant gaps in coverage emerged (see link above to  map) during the digital switch-over which I  continued to query in a lengthy correspondence with Digital UK

Worryingly, digitaluk’s team here in N.I. have confirmed that only one of the two transmitters in the Belfast area will be carrying the Irish as well as the UK stations. Blackmountain will have both, but the Divis transmitter will only have UK services – most TV’s in Down District receive their signal from the Divis Transmitter.

I have challenged this arrangement both directly myself, and have had Down Council express concerns on behalf of all citizens in the District.

Digital have written to me saying “Our advice to consumers is based on information made available to us from the broadcasters. This indicates that the new Freeview service supplemented by Saorview signals from the Republic will make TG4, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two available to approximately 93 per cent of households in Northern Ireland. Our campaign reminds viewers that Freeview HD equipment will be needed to receive these channels via Freeview.”

 

I am campaigning to make sure we do not end up as part of the 7% who do not get the service.

Click here to see some of the correspondence to both Digital UK and to Saorview in the Republic

 

Councillor highlights RTE signal danger

Councillor highlights RTE signal danger

Cllr Cadogan Enright celebrates £4 Million rates victory

Cllr Cadogan Enright celebrates rates victory by Cadogan Enright

Councillor Cadogan Enright’s 3 year campaign of opposition to what he has described as “excessive cash reserves” in Down District Council at the expense of the ratepayer appears to have been vindicated.
Cllr Enright, a qualified Chartered Accountant, was the only councilor to vote against the adoption of Down Districts Annual Accounts last year. At the time he claimed that the council had over-provided in its cash reserves by at least 3 to 4 million pounds.
Cadogan Enright said “following my defeat last March by a margin of 22 to 1 on this issue last year, I referred the matter to the external auditor, the audit committee and managed with the help of 2 other councilors to have the internal auditor spend time investigating this matter.”
“The council’s turnover was estimated to be £18 million this year, but cash reserves had been allowed to accumulate to well over £10 million. Ignoring specific reserves, our closing current cash balance last year was standing at £4.9 million, compared to Newry and Mourne at £0.6, Ards and Castlerea both at £1.3 and Armagh at £0.1 million. Were we to merge with Newry and Mourne as planned, this would be the equivalent of giving each person living in Newry and Mourne a present of £29 – a £2.5 million ‘hello present”. Said Cadogan.
“In addition to this, I disputed the entire provision of £3.7 million of additional reserves earmarked to decommission Drumnakelly dump. I believe we are only legally and environmentally required to provide for decommissioning for a maximum of 30 years after its closure, not the 60 proposed by management. We are also allowed to recognize the future value of income from renewable energy and, in particular electricity generated from methane at the dump. Newry and Mourne have done this and as a result only have a fraction of our reserves for the same purpose”.
“Having attended audit and strategic resource committee meetings over the last 18 months I am now certain that all technical questions about this matter have now been resolved. The bigger parties are now faced with estimates of 20 to 30% of rates increases over the next 4 years, and have been forced to come round to my point of view to be able to achieve an acceptable rates figure. We have at least £4 million is reserves available to use before the merger with Newry and Mourne.” Concluded Cllr Enright.
Cllr Cadogan Enright also thanked fellow councilors John Doris and Eamon Mac Con Midhe for their support in pursuing this matter, saying “Cllr Mac Con Midhe has proved to be an excellent Audit Committee Chairperson, not afraid to take on the experts and I am grateful for his support”.