Green Party Cllr Cadogan Enright welcomed that the rates estimate for the current year will include a provision for 25% (£11,000) for a biodiversity officer, with the balance of funds coming from the DOE and Newry and Mourne Council.
Cllr Enright said “Given the importance of the Tourism Industry to Down District this move is long overdue. If we are to grow tourism in a sustainable way we have to know how to manage our resources and plan accordingly. Down District has the best resources in NI or indeed in Ireland as a whole, but regrettably have failed to protect and develop these resources in a systematic way in the past”
Cadogan Enright claimed that Newry and Mourne were now ahead of Down District Council in respect of bio-diversity management. He said “Newry and Mourne have completed their bio-diversity plan, so the new officer will have the responsibility of implementing it the Western end of the new county council area. Whereas in Down District the bio-diversity officer will have to put our plan together for adoption by the council.”
“Given the fantastic skills and knowledge of people in the community in the district, this should be an easier task than in other areas. Our NGO’s, local community groups and even council-funded organisations like the Strangford Lough (SLMAC) committee are the best in NI and will be able to help.”
Cllr Enright continued “This will be the best £11,000 we have spent for many years in terms of the generation of long-term sustainable income and wealth as defined in the widest possible terms. It will create a product for our children and our children’s’ children for years to come and assist in building a vital database of knowledge.”
“Anyone who has seen the visitors coming to Killard point nature reserve for the butterfly population, or the water-birds around our coast from Strangford around the Lecale Coast to the Mournes will know what I am talking about. You don’t have to have any interest in the wall brown butterfly or the Irish Lizard at Sheeplands near Ardglass, or in the seals at Minerstown or Ballykinlar to understand the huge economic benefits that arise from visitors around Europe being aware of what we have to offer in this district and being prepared to spend their money here.”