Clarke welcomes DARD response to Castlewellan Forest Park

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Sunday, January 20th, 2013
Alliance Party South Down spokesperson Councillor Patrick Clarke has welcomed a written ministerial response from the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill MLA regarding the ongoing works to the derelict glasshouses in Castlewellan Forest Park. In early December 2012 Clarke had written to the DARD Minister seeking clarification on the £130,000 that was being spent on repairing the historic glasshouses. The estimated £130,000 Clarke believed would not adequately or properly fully restore the glasshouses to the high standards that would be expected and asked O’Neill to confirm if the works being carried were only to make safe and secure the glasshouses until larger capital funding is secured to fully refurbish the deteriorating glasshouses. Clarke stated, “The DARD Minister has now confirmed to me that the NI Environmental Agency had requested DARD to undertake specific works with some urgency, to the glasshouses at Castlewellan Forest Park. “The works requested and estimated at £130k, extend only to the removal of vegetation, partial reglazing and other miscellaneous repairs are aimed solely at securing the structures from further water penetration, and not complete refurbishment which will take place in the future.” “I welcome the Minister’s interest in facilitating further works, including the Arboretum and glasshouses in particular through the Jobs and Economy Initiative, which DARD has now secured £4 million pounds to help with the development of recreation and tourism projects in Forest Parks to upgrade visitor provision in forests.” Clarke added, “A memorandum of understanding is already in place between DARD and Down District Council for the development of recreation and leisure products with Down Council area, which will provide an excellent framework and opportunity such as Castlewellan Forest Park to be taken forward.”
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