Alliance representatives John Blair MLA and Councillor Patrick Brown have called for long-term plans to protect and enhance Northern Ireland’s treasured landscapes following a visit to the Mourne Mountains.
Speaking after they attended a meeting in Silent Valley with the Mourne Heritage Trust, Mr Blair and Councillor Brown said they would continue to work both at a central government level and a local level to restore and enhance the resilience of the sites with natural and environmental significance.
South Antrim MLA Mr Blair, Environment spokesperson for Alliance, said: “The recent devastating fires at the Mournes caused shockwaves across the community due to the significant biodiversity loss and the destruction of this scenic area.
“However, it is important we don’t lose sight of the fact many fires across Northern Ireland cause damage on an annual basis. The overall picture is extremely concerning – there here have been several wildfire incidents over the recent exceptionally dry weather, which have destroyed valuable natural habitats.
“We continue to face an ecological crisis and our natural environment is under significant threat. A sustainable approach to landscape management has never been more crucial.”
Councillor Brown, the party’s South Down representative, added his concerns Northern Ireland does not have a landscape strategy, as is the case in other jurisdictions.
“There is a direct relationship between the quality of Northern Ireland’s landscapes and the condition of the local economy. A long-term strategy for landscape management must be a top priority, not just for economic development and growth, but also for environmental value, and this must be recognised by all parts and levels of government, whether or not they have an environmental remit.
“I, along with Alliance colleagues, will continue to press for such plans and the associated governance structures for long-term landscape management.”